Thursday, June 26, 2008

Isabella Rossellini, Dante's Inferno, and Antonio Machado

Cover by Wayne Hogan

Well, this week started with some Green Porno, so who am I not to share?
Is it poetry? Maybe not, but it is lyrical in its own way and we need truth like this in a post George Carlin world. Thank you, Isabella Rossellini.

And, oh, yeah, humor. (Don't miss the other mini-films on the side bar).

I've had an idea percolating for a blog post at Eleventh Stack (the blog at my "other job") and it seemed worthy of sharing here (the idea, not the post). I stumbled across the fact, thanks once again to the folks over at the Bookslut blog, that there is a paper puppet version of Dante's Inferno, due for DVD release next month. Here is the trailer, posted at YouTube:

For those with hearty hard drives, you might want to try one of the higher-tech versions at the film's website. If the trailer tantalizes, Ovation TV has posted a 4 minute excerpt that portrays the Flatterers as congressional lobbyists (if this isn't in the spirit of the original epic poem, I'll take my 8th circle punishment right now. Oh, what the hell, here's the 4 minute excerpt (there is no doubt that this is poetry):

Perhaps I've strayed a bit and need a stopover in the 6th circle on my way down. Obviously, that one ain't my call.

In the more traditional area of poetics, I've been digging into a parcel of poetry books this past week, including Han Shan (more about that in a future post, I hope) and C . D. Wright's new take on the state of things, given Iraq and all that, in Rising, Falling, Hovering. If you are detecting some cynicism in the way the later part of the previous sentence trailed off, it seems I've got still another stop to consider. But I'll withhold judgment on that for a moment. Today what I'd like to recommend is a good, strong dose of Antonio Machado.

Dennis Maloney and Mary G. Berg have translated a volume of Machado's enigmatic short poems entitled There Is No Road, published by White Pine Press and pictured above. The works are all short, blending aphorism, philosophy, and a lyrical mysteriousness that is pure poetry. Here are a handful to give you a taste:

It is good to know that glasses
are to drink from;
the bad thing is that we don't know
what thirst is for.


Man is only rich in hypocrisy;
he relies on his ten thousand disguises
----------to deceive
and uses the double key that protects his house
to pick the lock of his neighbor.


Look in your mirror for the other one,
the one who accompanies you.


These chance furrows
why call them roads?
Everyone on a journey walks
like Jesus on the sea.

At 110 plus pages, one poem per page, there is much to ponder here. I'm partial to Dennis' work as I've published a volume of his Issa translations, Dusk Lingers, and one of love poems from the classic 100 Poems by 100 Poets entitled Unending Night. There will be a companion volume to the later focusing on nature poems from 100 Poems to be published in the Modest Proposal Chapbook series sometime next year. The clear, concise language of the translation of Machado comes through in There Is a Road. It's definitely worth a look.

Speaking of journeys, the tour of Lilliput Review's back pages continues this week with issue #83, published in November 1996. If anyone is actually keeping tabs, I've skipped #84, which was a broadside issue by Christien Gholson, Winter Prayers. As with many of the broadsides, excerpting work just doesn't do it justice. If you are interested, it is still available for $1 or can be bundled with 2 other broadsides, for a total of 3 for $2.00. On to the poetry in #83 ....

it is still
worth the risk
to sit, old and troubled
inside the heart
and scrape the walls
worth everything
to dip fingers
in the gravy
to paint the tablecloth
with words
necessary and fat.

jen besemer


The Ego and the Raven

Wings, talons, hair, horns:
Why heed a raven's lecture
when you've got it all?
Marjorie Power


places I've never been
people I've never met
the things that connect us

David Stensland


And one that probably hasn't aged so well ...

I Can't Believe Its Not Buttofucco Madonna
has an oily
texture of
Lyn Lifshin


Yikes, I can't end with that - here's a Donny Smith translation of an Anonymous Greek epigram:

The puckered rosebud opens, darkens, withers.
Where it was sweet, now it prickles.

Anonymous (translated by Donny Smith)

Till next time,


Charles Gramlich said...

I saw a couple of rather weird things from her recently. I had no idea she was doing this kind of stuff. As always, I enjoyed the poetry.

Anonymous said...

O! Such richness!

Pity I'm at the refdesk. I'm a smiley librarian, though. Merci beaucoup.


Poet Hound said...

I always love dropping in. Always plenty of interesting things to read, and I couldn't help clicking all the links provided in this post. I also enjoyed the very short poem about looking in the mirror for the one who accompanies you. It sent shivers down my spine! Looking forward to see what's up your sleeve for next week.
Poet Hound

Greg said...


Thanks for sharing those poems. It's weird -- I just saw that first Machado poem (thirst) in an anthology yesterday and it made me pause. Haven't had a chance to check out the videos yet, but I enjoyed the poems.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks for the observations and kind words... two out of four weird, so I must be doing something right ...

I have another collection of Machado here I plan to get to ... this one has longer poems also.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Appreciate the kind words. There was something about the mirror poem that hit me hard also ...


Jay Andrew Besemer said...

O Don--

I am a category unto myself? Wow. :) Thank you.

Much change in life and work--thank you for resurrecting those old poems. Not much like today's voice, but isn't that always the way?

jen b.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Jen: Indeed, you are ... we all have so many voices - ten thousand roads, one destination ...