Le Palais de Nuit

One of the poems in the only issue of the magazine Night Palace (Auguste Press/Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005), edited by Micah Ballard and Julien Poirier, is David Larsen's “Big P.S.” Maybe I read it as a postscript to his brilliant book The Thorn (Faux Press, 2005), with his inimitable lines that veer between conversation, lyrics and abstract discourse:

“what tied it all together for me
was that stuff about the headphones
loving them no crime but the only
laughing about it later one
all the way home with the ungentle
you want to see ’em
most of y’all can’t even
without a lot of

The poems in this issue are printed in antique typewriter font, one per page, identified only by title, so that eventually as you read the words belong at once to all the poets listed in the index, individual names dissolving. The entire issue is full of fantastic moments, from poets I've read and others I read for the first time. I immediately identify with Julien Poirier’s “Pierre de Ronsard” (I don't know if this is a translation of a text by that poet, 1524-1585, or an homage to him), it’s melancholic first lines:

“My sweet youth is gone
My strong shoots cracked
I’ve got a white key and a black tooth
My nerves dissolve at a touch
And my veins (cold leads)
Run wine in place of blood.”

Stephanie Young’s “Night Palace” reverberates, too, as I read and reread the magazine:

“That’s what really rocks about
I accept life on life’s terms
all the time, no money”

The book closes beautifully with Joan Kyger’s “Night Palace,” etched onto the cream-colored page, a minimalist sculpture made from the typewritten letters that seem to shake imperceptibly around their edges: “Then you grow up / and get to be post-human / in a past that keeps happening / ahead of you”


This blog is becoming less and less about me, given over instead to books I love and translations of Venezuelan writers. As well as translations of texts from other Latin American writers that move me, such as the poems by Roque Dalton I intend to translate here in the future. An autobiography via reading and commentary. The self exists more in books anyways, dreams that loop back to moments we've misused or ruined, maybe books and notebooks can provide some meaning or solace.

I'm reading Javier Cercas’s stunning novel Soldados de Salamina (Tusquets Editores, 2001). I was drawn to it partly because Roberto Bolaño shows up as a character in the final section and also by this review Sergio Téllez-Pon wrote at his blog a few months ago. A postmodern novel that theorizes itself as it proceeds, which I list alongside texts by Sebald, Dalton, Cabrera Infante, Vila-Matas and, of course, Bolaño (who Carmen Boullosa remembers in her essay “Bolaño in Mexico”). Natasha Wimmer's translation of Los detectives salvajes is excellent, reminding me how funny the opening pages of the novel are, poets emerging from clouds of marijuana smoke.


I read Chris Andrews’s great translation of Amuleto (1999), which includes a ghostly scene of the narrator following two young hippie poets walking through Mexico City one night on their way to confront a sinister pimp, the streets of the megalopolis emptied at that late hour. It’s the moment Ignacio Echevarría cites in his Afterword to 2666 as a prelude to the posthumous novel:

“I followed them: I saw them go down Bucareli to Reforma with a spring in their step and then cross Reforma without waiting for the lights to change, their long hair blowing in the excess wind that funnels down Reforma at that hour of the night, turning it into a transparent tube or an elongated lung exhaling the city's imaginary breath. Then we walked down the Avenida Guerrero; they weren’t stepping so lightly anymore, and I wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic either. Guerrero, at that time of night, is more like a cemetery than an avenue, not a cemetery in 1974 or 1968, or 1975, but a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.”

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