I am a prisoner of a pen
that sweats ink
until it leaves itself empty.
To love only the fruit
of this instant
* * *
A while back, I published about Acción Poética (Poetic Action), a group that works across Latin America to bring poetry to the streets of towns and cities (click here for that post). I received a comment on that post from one of its members and was told that there were 56 Acción Poética murals in and around Chiclayo with hopes of creating more. Sadly, a few weeks ago I witnessed one being destroyed when a small building was torn down.
I didn’t manage to get a picture of it before its destruction. The mural read:
Me quiero libre
pero a tu lado.
(I want to be free
but by your side).
The genius of this line of poetry? I still haven’t found out.
Anyhoo, I am still trying to find out who wrote the line of poetry in the first photo posted above. I do know that the line of poetry in the second photo shows part of a line of poetry by Carmen Ollé Nava, a Peruvian narrator and literary critic. Born in Lima in 1947, Nava went on to study education, specializing in language and literature in la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. She has published many books (poetry, prose and narrative) and taught workshops in Peru and New York. She has also been president of the Network of Female Latin American Writers (la Red de Escritoras Latinoamericanas, RELAT), director and administrator of the Centre for Documentation of Women (Centro de Documentación de la Mujer) and coordinator of the Citizenship and Communication Program in the Study for the Defense of Women’s Rights (Programa Ciudadanía y Comunicación en Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer, DEMUS). She has participated in many cultural and literary events around Latin America, as well as in Germany and China–she sounds like an admirable lady and Chiclayo was lucky enough to host her at a poetry festival earlier this year.
Nava and Blanca Varela (b. 1926 in Lima) are the most well-known female Peruvian poets; they are not known as poetas, but rather poetisas (Spanish has a feminine version of the word ‘poet’).
I mentioned that the photo only shows part of a line of one of Nava’s poems. Taken from her poem ‘Amor me mueve y me hace responder‘ (Love moves me and makes me respond), the full line reads:
Amar sólo el fruto de este instante llamado escritura es el resultado fatal conocido como poesía.
To love only the fruit of this instant called writing is the fatal result known as poetry.
Reading the full line certainly changes its meaning; I quite like the emotion that the line expresses about the power of poetry, the state that writing poetry puts a person in. Acción Poética chose well by painting the mural next to the other one featured above (I am a prisoner of a pen/without equilibrium,/that sweats ink/until it leaves itself empty).
These lines of poetry work well together and express that need to get something that inspires you out on paper (or a keyboard) before the idea or thought disappears.
For artists, perhaps that is through a drawing or painting; for singer-song writers, perhaps it is in the form of the perfect rhythm to accompany new song lyrics, or vice versa. I’ve been playing violin with an American sing-songwriter lately who commented that the less time he has to write lyrics, the bigger “the explosion” of ideas that comes when he does sit down to write. I can certainly identify with this feeling.
For me, tonight, these ideas have had nothing to do with poetry, but rather, a list of what I’d like to accomplish while completing the rest of my internship in Peru. Scribbled on recycled paper, I have jotted down: reflections on what I originally thought I would accomplish (while still in Canada); ideas for what I might teach my English students; ideas for how to engage kids with their school’s curriculum while still allowing for creativity in the homework help sessions; ideas for how to teach art with recycled materials, for how to improve existing Centro Esperanza programs; ideas for the future of the music world in Chiclayo and thoughts about current opportunities for children and youth to get involved with music or other creative activities; etc. (plus ideas about what I might get up to next year and in the future). As I get to know Chiclayo better, I become more aware of the (often frustrating) political, socio-economic, cultural realities, challenges and limitations, but as I meet and talk with more people, I realize that there are many individuals, group and organizations working to change and improve life here. And I can’t help feel inspired and hopeful for the future.
Despite the fact that my internal clock was thrown off a few days ago when we celebrated my host mom’s birthday here at home until the wee hours of the morning (Latin food, music and dancing in no small quantities), I do have an English class to teach in far-too-few hours, so I had better get some shut eye, buenas noches.