PS – WordPress deleted my tilde first time around. I therefore inadvertantly wished everyone a happy new anus. Though I hope all anuses, whether new or old, are happy, that was not my intent. Hopefully the ñ stayed this time around….Happy New Year!
This year started out right for me. Now, don’t get jealous, but I spent last week in Puerto Rico with family. Every year for the past 50 years, my family on my father’s side has gotten together at the family hacienda in Maricao for Three King’s Day. It’s a tradition that my great aunt Miriam Mena and her husband, Tibique Jimenez, started and their children have continued since they passed away in 2008. This year was my third trip for it, and my husband’s first. And it was amazing.
But, I took the opportunity of being in Puerto Rico to meet with some poet friends of mine, and visit some bookstores, and I’ve now got more books of puertorrican poetry than I can handle. Very exciting.
So now that I’m in Santo Domingo doing some translation, writing and research, I’ve decided that I’m going to try to read a book every day I’m here. Some books I brought, some I’ll get here, and some I got in San Juan. I’ll be writing brief summaries here of each book as I finish them, so that I can hopefully retain some of the information.
Today’s book was Fiebre de Fresno by John Torres, an interesting collection. I’m less interested in the micro-poems of one or two aphoristic lines, though they are lovely. The longer poems are denser and more challenging, especially “Naufragio”, “Afectar los afectos”, and “Lucia y el sexo” are dense, imaginative and philosophical. I definitely want to spend more time with them. Torres’ terse lyric counteracts some of the occasionally over-wrought rhetoric, transforming trite observations into beautiful insights. What’s most engaging on the first read is the way he uses sound and rhythm to structure the poems, like in “Estado de sitio”:
Son siempre los ecos
a veces menos
no los complazco
me rasgo en la cara
un laberinto frenetico
la tarde se viste con los encantos
de una trama softporn
The siege in the title is replicated in the pounding of the rhythms of these short lines, and the drilling down of the ‘o’ sounds mimetic of his continued digging. It’s punctuated but not broken by the English ‘softporn’.
I started with this one because I wanted something on the lighter side to get into the rhythm of reading a book a day. The 23 poems in the book are on the whole brief and lyric, though this does not make them necessarily easy. There is definitely some sophisticated and dense wordplay happening in these poems, things that to fully unpack I’d need to spend more time with them (and possibly a dictionary). But it was manageable to read and enjoy today, and I’ve marked the poems that demand closer reading.