"There was nowhere to turn..."

Today's cassette is Sonic Youth Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (1994), which includes an epigraph by Jack Brewer in the liner notes: "Once the music leaves your head it's already compromised."


Reading Tabla sin asidero and Humphrey Bloggart today, I find out that two young Mexican writers/bloggers have been arrested in Mexico City and charged with stealing the rearview mirrors from a parked car.

Gerardo Sifuentes Marín and Epigmenio León Martínez were arrested on February 12 and are now in jail, facing charges of aggravated robbery. I don't think I need to emphasize that the Mexico City police (like the police in most Latin American cities) are extremely corrupt. The charges against these two writers are ridiculous, especially considering that the only witnesses to the alleged crime are the two arresting officers.

I hope their problems can be resolved soon.


Along with Teresa de la Parra's Las memorias de Mama Blanca, I have begun reading Cristina Rivera Garza's novel Nadie me verá llorar (Barcelona, España: Editorial Tusquets, 2003 / orig. 1999).


The Rafael Cadenas translations are going very slowly. As I transfer them into English, I find that I lose much of the beauty of his early poems. While translating, I get stuck on single words or phrases that seem impossible to evoke accurately in English. As a translator, I always go back to Walter Benjamin's notion of a pure, or transcendental, language that emerges beyond the two languages. In Cadenas' poetry, that moment of purity is always mixed in with sadness and silence.


Opening the mailbox today, I'm happy to find three poems by John Ashbery in the London Review of Books:

"The Situation Upstairs

Like a forest fire in a jungle
with no one to watch it, this sea breeze
releases me to the cloud of knowing.

There are beaters in the woods,
nourishing it, and you're it,
reciting it. The long scramble upstairs
landed us here. There is no method
in the alphabet; the urchin came unseated.

You have to learn to 'bounce'
with the ages, just to keep up with time.
By then it will have been censored,
bleached from an autumn of folly.
In time we were twins, grew apart,
felt the centennial dawning.
There was nowhere to turn
and nobody to turn to.

To have 'landed' requires skills
we knew nothing of in our era,
yet their musicianly acts accompany us,
push us out of doors, into late summer's clamour.

Now our pleated longetivity mimics us.
We should have been nicer, talked to children
and their pets. To draw the tapestry aside
at this late date is to shuffle with fools
and clergymen, though there is one more thankless
task to claim and be influenced by:
the credible flight of football plays and calls.

These not any more for our adornment:
talking to new rulers and insight gained,
sunflowers over and out,
ashes on the clapboard credenza."

{John Ashbery, London Review of Books 19 February 2004}

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