Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 28 November 2011

  • from ‘Smoke’

    In order to revive the orange age, you must assemble all of the witnesses, all those who suffered, those who laughed and even the youngest and those who were furthest away.

                You must rekindle your grandmothers; make them come with their great crucifixes of cinnamon in tow and well-nailed with those large aromatic cloves, just as when they lived surrounded by fire and syrup.

                You must interrogate the gillyflower and harass her with questions, until not a single purple detail is lost.

                You must talk with the butterfly, seriously, and savage roosters with their hoarse voices and great silver talons.

                And the veronicas shall come from way back when, pale veronicas—wandering among the flowers and smoke and trees—and the face of sugar, the portrait of the figs shall return.

                And advise the wisteria so that they bring their old resemblance to grape. And the populous pomegranate, and the procession of yuccas, and the guardian of the loquat tree, yellow and hateful, and my mane of hair from that time, all of it full of witches and planets, and the wandering livestock and the angel of the hills and of the amethysts—with one pink and one blue wing —and the lemon blossoms, as big as spikenards.

                And all of the silverplated cages shall come and all of the colored bottles and the keys and the fans and the Christmas cake standing on its cherry stilts.

                In order to revive the orange age, you cannot forget anyone, you must call everyone, most importantly the smoke man, who is the most serious and the most delicate and the most beloved.

                And you must invite God.

    by Marosa di Giorgio, translated by Susan Briante

    The Poetry Centre is on Facebook and on Twitter - join us there!

    This section from 'Smoke' is copyright © Shearsman, 2011; translation © Susan Briante, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Shearsman Books from Hotel Lautréamont: Contemporary Poetry from Uruguay, edited by Kent Johnson and Roberto Echavarren.

    Notes from Shearsman:

    Named in homage to Isidore Ducasse, the Uruguayan-French poet who wrote Maldoror under the name Comte de Lautréamont, and with a knowing nod to John Ashbery's book of the same title, Hotel Lautréamont is the first major English-language survey of contemporary Uruguayan poetry for some 40 years. It features the work of Roberto Appratto, Nancy Bacelo, Amanda Berenguer, Selva Casal, Marosa di Giorgio, Roberto Echavarren, Eduardo Espina, Gustavo Espinosa, Silvia Guerra, Circe Maia, Eduardo Milán and Idea Vilariño. The volume is bilingual. You can find out more about the book from Shearsman's page dedicated to it, and read further selections from the volume here.

    Marosa di Giorgio (1932–2004) was born in Salto in Uruguay to Italian immigrant parents. After she studied law and briefly acted in a professional theatre company, she took a job in Salto’s municipal government and devoted her free time to reading extensively and writing fifteen books of poetry, three books of short stories and one novel. She is increasingly considered to be one of Latin America’s greatest poets of the 20th century. You can learn more about Marosa di Giorgio at the official website for her work here (in Spanish, but with a translation option), and hear her read from her work at this link (in Spanish).

    Susan Briante is the author of two collections of poetry: Pioneers in the Study of Motion (Ahsahta 2007) and Utopia Minus (2011). Her translations of Latin American writers have appeared in Bomb, Translation Review, and Reversible Monuments (Copper Canyon Press) among others. From 1992–1997, she lived in Mexico City where she worked for the magazines Artes de México and Mandorla.

    Shearsman Books is a very active publisher of new poetry, mostly from Britain and the USA, but also with an active translation list. You can learn more about the publisher here, and find Shearsman on Facebook here.

    Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.