Monday, June 11, 2018

For Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, Whose Spirit Is Present Here and in the Dappled Stars
(For we remember the story and must tell it again so we may all live)
By Joy Harjo

Beneath a sky blurred with mist and wind,
I am amazed as I watch the violet
heads of crocuses erupt from the stiff earth
after dying for a season,
as I have watched my own dark head
appear each morning after entering
the next world to come back to this one,
It is the way in the natural world to understand the place
the ghost dancers named
after the heart breaking destruction.
Anna Mae,
everything and nothing changes.
You are the shimmering young woman
who found her voice,
when you were warned to be silent, or have your body cut away
from you like an elegant weed.
You are the one whose spirit is present in the dappled stars.
(They prance and lope like colored horses who stay with us
through the streets of these steely cities. And I have seen them
nuzzling the frozen bodies of tattered drunks
on the corner.)
This morning when the last star is dimming
and the busses grind toward
the middle of the city, I know it is ten years since they buried you
the second time in Lakota, a language that could
free you.
I heard about it in Oklahoma, or New Mexico,
how the wind howled and pulled everything down
in righteous anger.
(It was the women who told me) and we understood wordlessly
the ripe meaning of your murder.
As I understand ten years later after the slow changing
of the seasons
that we have just begun to touch
the dazzling whirlwind of our anger,
we have just begun to perceive the amazed world the ghost dancers
crazily, beautifully.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Some Excerpts Prying at Grief

Horror, Fear, Grief - 
the unexpectedness of these pieces had me crying in public.

"None of these movies are sequels or remakes, and most of them come from the singular perspective of writer-directors pursuing their vision, not a studio pumping out product. They feature the usual preoccupations of horror — supernatural evil, gore, creepy basements — but they also evoke the poet Anne Carson’s answer to the question, 
Why does tragedy exist? “Because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief.”
- Home is where the horror is, by Jason Zinoman, New York Times, 6/8/2018

"Judith Butler has reviewed Anne Carson's Antigonick (New Directions 2012). She writes for Public Books that, rather than a "rewrite" of Antigone, "[Carson's] text becomes the verbal and visual scanning of a prolonged scream or cry."
So tragedy is neither very far away nor very foreign. It seems to be with us in the present, leaving its traces in the midst of popular discourse. In the preface to Grief Lessons, Carson makes clear that to understand tragedy, one need not come equipped with erudition (even though she clearly does). She answers the question “Why does tragedy exist?” by directly addressing her reader, as she had Eurydike do:

Because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief. Ask a headhunter why he cuts off human heads. He’ll say that rage impels him and rage is born of grief. The act of severing and tossing away the victim’s head enables him to throw away all of his bereavements.… Perhaps you think this does not apply to you. Yet you recall the day your wife, driving you to your mother’s funeral, turned left instead of right at the intersection and you had to scream at her so loud other drivers turned to look. When you tore off her head and threw it out the window they nodded, changed gears, drove away.
Antigone rages forth from grief, causing new destruction, and so, too, does Kreon; they mirror each other in the midst of their opposition. So, too, do you, apparently, and everyone else as well, nodding and driving off, unless we catch ourselves in time. The reader is implicated in this recurrent alteration of grief and rage, subject to the destruction she or he is capable of inflicting, if there is no timely intervention.
Apparently “you” already know why tragedy exists.

- from "Judith Butler on Anne Carson's Time of the Time on Tragedy" by the Harriet Staff of the Poetry Foundation

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Não se mate / Don't Do It

Don't Do It

Carlos, easy, love
is what you see:
today a kiss, tomorrow none,
and the next day's Sunday
and by Monday, who knows
what'll happen.

Silly you should resist
or kill yourself, even.
Don't do it, Oh, don't do it.
Save it all up for
the wedding feast nobody knows
when it'll come,
or even if.

Love, Carlos, son of Earth,
spent the night in you
and, your hesitancies overcome,
inside raised a marvelous racket:
saints blessing themselves
ads for the best brands of soap,
a racket nobody knows
where from, what for.

Still you walk
melancholy, vertical.
You are the palm tree, you are the shout
nobody heard in the movie house
and the lights went out.
Love in the dark - no - love by daylight
is always sad, Carlos, my son,
but don't go tell anyone,
they don't know and don't have to.

trans. by Virginia Peckham de Araujo
Não se mate by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

note: copied from The Minus Sign: Selected Poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, translated by Virginia de Araujo.

Copied this poem five times because it just shook my understanding of what a poem is, and the brutality with which translation can be wielded in the hard eyes of american critics. i felt there was something more moving in this poem than the previous translations were letting on.