Casi un pais / Elizabeth Schon

Elizabeth Schon was born in Caracas in 1921 and continues to live and work there. During the summer of 2003, Schon was honored at the Semana de la Poesia, a series of readings, conferences and book fairs held once a year in Caracas. In 1972, she published the collection of prose poems Casi un pais (Almost A Country), which includes the narrative of a young girl from the provinces of Venezuela ("el interior"), arriving and discovering the universe of Caracas. These translations were based on the excerpts from this book included in her selected poems, Antologia poetica (Monte Avila Editores, 1998). Schon is a prolific writer whose recent collections have been published on her own press, Editorial Diosa Blanca.

Although she has sometimes been overlooked in anthologies of Venezuelan poetry, Schon is a poet of philosophical resonance whose current work intuits a secret Caracas in tune with Monte Avila's incomprehensible stillness, a vast green wave frozen over the valley.


Almost A Country (selections)

Next to the El Calvario stairs, I say to Juan: --Let's not descend the steps too quickly. --Lucia, if you want to know this city you have to hurry. Caracas is too big, so much that I almost mistake her for a country.
We descend quickly. Since I'm happy I stay quiet. Juan has told me not to speak when I'm content; it's better to stay quiet, and this way the happiness doesn't end. It actually remains intact, like certain gifts that are stored so as to not be damaged or broken.

We're finally in front of the San Francisco ceiba tree! And it looks so much like a friar who continually listens to the rain, the breeze, the wind, the birds, and who never ceases to be protected by the sky's ceiling.

Am I a descendant of Humboldt, that man who discovered rivers, jungles, mountains, caves?

In a doorway, a boy plays with a perinola. Its string bends, lengthens, curves nimbly, while the stilled boy doesn't laugh, doesn't speak, remains alert to the string that stretches, retracts, forming a circumference that is pierced by the clarity and that the wind does not destroy.

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