Friday, December 17, 2010

Hidden treasures, beckoning

Last week, in the basement of a local church thrift shop, wedged in between some old, much-used French recipe books and decades' old romance novels, I found this wonderful little bilingual French-Spanish book of poetry, Des yeux d'un autre regard/Ojos de otro mirar (Eyes to see otherwise), by Homero Aridjis, published by Ecrits des Forges, Ottawa, Canada, 1999, translated by Emile Martel.  It was sold to me for 25 cents.

What a wonderful introduction to a poet with whose poems I had been heretofore unfamiliar. I do not know Spanish and I am still learning French but already I am able to sense a kindred spirit--a poet who loves Monarch butterflies and cares deeply about the environment, Aridjis's words seem so familiar, penetrating instantly through the blur of translation directly into my heart.

I come new to poetry that several of my compatriots have been reading already for many years. Odd, though, it was as if this book found me, instead of the other way around, because I was already almost out the door when I hesitated and turned back with the thought, "I'm just gonna go look one more time, there might be some poetry books hiding somewhere in there," and sure enough--there one was!

On returning home I discovered a website offering 16 of Aridjis's poems from the bilingual anthology of Homero Aridjis, 2001.  (Oyos de otro mirar/Eyes to see otherwise (1998). Selected Poems 1960-2000). Selected and edited by Betty Ferber and George McWhirter (Manchester: Carcanet Press Ltd.)  Click here for the original Spanish, here for a translation into Macedonian; and here for the English translation, by Betty Ferber, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Martha Black Jordan, Philip Lamantia, W.S. Merwin, George McWhirter, John Frederick Nims, Kenneth Rexroth, Jerome Rothenberg, Brian Swann, Barbara Szerlip, Nathaniel Tarn and Eliot Weinberger. 

Only two of those poems appeared in the little book I found at the thrift shop.

Homer Aridjis's latest book, Solar Poems, translated by George McWhirter and published by City Light Books in San Francisco in March 2010 was the first bilingual edition of a complete single volume of his poems that had been originally published in 2005.

Just reading the titles of some of the poems in the index makes me want to get this book:

"Meeting with my Father in the Orchard"
"Self-Portrait of a Young Man Out Walking in His Past"
"Recommendations for Life as a Ghost"
"Landscapes of Nothing"
"Light Pulsing on the Rails"
"You Are Astonished by Shadows"
"Poems for an Insomniac"
"The Hungering Spider of Deep Love"
"The White Cat of Early Morning"
"Ballad of Friends Now Gone"

To read the first poem in the book--click here, where he talks about the expanding universe that fits into our mind:

               into our expanding minds fit all the stars
               our mind is a verse towards the universe.

Click here to read two of his poems that appeared in Jacket 15: "Goethe Said That Architecture" and "Rain in the Night".


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