Monday, October 31, 2016

The Heart in Poems: Leonard Cohen (II)

Happens to the Heart 

Leonard Cohen (1934)

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I was funding my depression 
Meeting Jesus reading Marx
Sure it failed my little fire
But it's bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart 

There’s a mist of summer kisses
Where I tried to double-park
The rivalry was vicious
And the women were in charge
It was nothing, it was business
But it left an ugly mark
So I’ve come here to revisit
What happens to the Heart

I was selling holy trinkets 
I was dressing kind of sharp 
Had a pussy in the kitchen
And a panther in the yard 
In the prison of the gifted 
I was friendly with the guard 
So I never had to witness 
What happens to the Heart

I should have seen it coming
You could say I wrote the chart
Just to look at her was trouble
It was trouble from the start
Sure we played a stunning couple
But I never liked the part
It ain’t pretty, it ain’t subtle
What happens to the Heart

Now the angel’s got a fiddle
And the devil’s got a harp
Every soul is like a minnow
Every mind is like a shark
I've opened every window
But the house, the house is dark
You give in and then it's simple
What happens to the heart 

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
The slaves were there already 
The singers chained and charred 
Now the arc of justice bending
And the injured soon to march
I got this job defending
What happens to the Heart

I studied with this beggar
He was filthy he was scarred
By the claws of many women
He had failed to disregard
No fable here no lesson
No singing meadow lark
Just a filthy beggar blessing
What happens to the heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I could lift, but nothing heavy
Almost lost my union card
I was handy with a rifle
My father's 303
We fought for something final
Not the right to disagree 

Sure it failed my little fire
But it's bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Letters Sent to Sea: Message in a Bottle

The first time I learnt about messages in a bottle was in Poe's tale "MS. Found in a Bottle" and then later on in life with the movie Message in a Bottle (1999). Message-in-a-bottle lore has often been of a romantic or poetic nature, which is understandable. There is something undeniably romantic about tossing a message into the vast ocean and seeing to whom it ends up being delivered. 

Others, in turn, prefer to leave those messages for a specific recipient. For example, last year a friend of mine proposed to his girlfriend by leaving a series of messages and small gifts in bottles so that she could find them along her way, which I did find quite romantic.

According to Wikipedia, messages have been slipped into bottles and shipped on mysterious voyages at least since 310 BC, when Greek philosopher Theophrastus employed the tactic to test his theory that the Atlantic flows into the Mediterranean Sea. And in fact, so-called “drift bottles” are still employed as a means of charting ocean currents. 

But aside from researchers studying oceanic circulation, there are many other motives that compel people to cork up their words and send them on seafaring adventures. From rescue pleas and sad farewells to random notes, people just want to send off into the world, messages in bottles are a curious antidote to the high-speed modes of communication we’ve come accustomed to. The following are some of the more remarkable tales describing the journeys of messages delivered by the sea compiled in this article I am pasting below:

1. Castaways revealed

In 1794, a Japanese seaman named Chunosuke Matsuyama and his 43 companions were caught in a storm and shipwrecked on a South Pacific island. Without supplies, all of the crew eventually expired; but not before Matsuyama wrote a message telling of their misfortune, carved in coconut wood and slipped in a bottle. No one knew what had become of the group until the bottle was discovered 150 years later near the Japanese village of Hiraturemura. 

2. Ghost message from the Titanic

Jeremiah Burke, 19, from Glanmire in Cork and his cousin Nora Hegarty, 18, boarded the ill-fated Titanic to meet up with his sisters who had settled in Boston a few years earlier. Before setting sail, Burke’s mother gave him a bottle of holy water. As the Titanic began her descent into the sea, Burke managed to write a message, "From Titanic, goodbye all, Burke of Glanmire, Cork," which he placed in the holy water bottle. The cousins died in the tragedy, and a year later, the bottle washed ashore a few miles from his family home. The artifacts were kept in the family for nearly a century before being donated to the Cobh Heritage Centre in 2011. 

3. Eighty-five years later…

In 1914, British World War I soldier Pvt. Thomas Hughes wrote a letter to his wife, sealed it in a ginger ale bottle, and tossed it into the English Channel. He died two days later fighting in France. Fast forward to 1999 when a fisherman found the bottle in the River Thames. It was too late to deliver the letter to Mrs. Hughes who died in 1979, but not too late for Hughes’ 86-year-old daughter, who was only 1 year old when her father died — the message was delivered to her at her home in New Zealand. 

4. The record holder

In 2011, a Scottish fisherman named Andrew Leaper was pulling in his haul near the Shetland Islands when he spied a bottle in the catch. Within, he discovered an old letter, a very old letter — in fact, it was certified as the oldest message in a bottle ever found by the Guinness Book of World Records. The message was scrawled by Capt. C. Hunter Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation and was sent to sea in 1914 along with a whopping 1,889 other bottles. A government agency in Aberdeen continues to track Brown’s project; to date, 315 of his castoffs have been recovered. 

5. Unfinished business

When the ocean liner the Lusitania, was struck by a torpedo on her 1915 journey from New York to Liverpool, it took a mere 18 minutes for her to sink. But that was long enough for one passenger to reportedly pen perhaps the most poignant and eerie message in a bottle yet recovered: "Still on deck with a few people. The last boats have left. We are sinking fast. Some men near me are praying with a priest. The end is near. Maybe this note will…" What the writer hoped the note might do is a secret forever swallowed by the sea. 

6. Love potion

In 1956, long before was an option, a lovesick Swedish sailor by the name of Ake Viking took his search for love to the salt water. A quick message, “To Someone Beautiful and Far Away,” was corked in a bottle and dispatched into the ocean. Two years later, Viking’s plea was answered by a Sicilian woman named Paolina. “I am not beautiful, but it seems so miraculous that this little bottle should have traveled so far and long to reach me that I must send you an answer,” she replied. The two began a correspondence that ended in Viking’s move to Sicily to marry his match made by the sea. 

7. Memo to mom

Ten years ago, a 10-year-old girl from Manhattan was visiting friends in Long Island when she scribbled a message and threw it in the ocean, enclosed in a ginger ale bottle. The bottle containing the missive written by Sidonie Fery was discovered this year by a crew cleaning up beach debris from Superstorm Sandy. But what made this discovery, and its subsequent return, so poignant is that Fery died in a tragic fall from a cliff in Switzerland in 2010. The message, which was passed on to Fery’s grieving mother, was a simple but profound reminder: “Be excellent to yourself, Dude.” 

8. Lifesaver

In 2005, more than 80 mostly-teenaged migrants were abandoned on a boat off the coast of Costa Rica. Left on the crippled vessel by the crew who was illegally smuggling the passengers, they were adrift without any means of typical communication. They ingeniously popped an SOS into a bottle that was miraculously found by fisherman, who delivered the message of “Please help us” to the denizens of a nearby World Heritage site island. The workers there alerted their headquarters, the lost-at-sea drifters were rescued, and the group was taken to the island to recover.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Letters in Poems: Miro Villar (III)

¿Quen dixo que foi polo meu desexo
esta separación, este vivir sen ti?
A miña túnica está aínda transida do teu aroma,
aínda gardo entre as miñas mans a carta que enviaches.

Emperador Wu Ti


Un envelope branco gardo como tesouro
na furna do desexo, tan só sesenta e catro
palabras acugulan o cofre de aloumiños
pero a inmensidade do amor fai que parezan 
centos e centos. hoxe como ladrón agocho

os froitos da rapina na gorida selada
onde conto e reconto nos beizos os diamantes
prezados que unha chave sen réplica nos dedos
e un corazón blindado reteñen na cornixa
do rostro e na vidreira de ollos indescifrables.

tan só sesenta e catro palabras que declaman
a nobre arquitectura dunha boca na viaxe
dun río, cando evoco, remexendo o faiado
da memoria coa lucia claridade que deita
a bufarda dos días, que nunca quixen tanto

outra boca distinta da túa e dúas trabes
tan pouco ornamentadas como espidos os labios
de riso transparente polos que me condeno.
tan só sesenta e catro palabras que gobernan 
o rumbo delirante dun corazón que rachas

de desamor lanzaban ao embarrancamento,
que tensan a velame para virar a proa
cara ao regreso, longa travesía e semanas
co leme firme esperan polo recibimento
da embarcación pirata con gáveas nos sentidos.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Begoña Caamaño's Letter to Uxía

Grazas á recomendación de Ana Mosquera, estou a ler Morgana en Esmelle (2012), da escritora Begoña Caamaño (1964-2014). O xornal semanario Sermos Galiza recolleu neste artigo  a carta que Begoña Caamaño lle escribiu á cantante Uxía (1962) e que hoxe, no aniversario do seu pasamento, recuperamos na súa integridade:

A cantante Uxía leu no acto de despedida de Begoña Camaño esta carta na que a escritora transmite a súa alegría pola vida e o sosego diante dunha morte que sabe próxima. Recollemos a presentación de Uxía e, a seguir, a emocionante carta da escritora. A ilustración é o cadro de Leandro Lamas ao que se refire, agasallo das súas amigas naquel aniversario. 

"Creo que te engrandece tanto, que che fai xustiza, que expresa o xenerosa e linda que es, miña amada Bego".

Benquerida Bego: 

Pensei se optar polo silenzo ou só pola música, que como ben sabes, é sandadora e vital. Mais as palabras que ti tan maxistralmente usaches, tamén nos reconfortan moito e, ágora, nestes momentos da despedida, non vou citar nen fragmentos de 'Circe' nen de 'Morgana'. Vou achegar unha carta túa que levo no corazón este tempo todo e que hoxe quedo compartir con todas e todos porque creo que te engrandece tanto, que che fai xustiza, que expresa o xenerosa e linda que es, miña amada Bego.
E así te vou lembrar, así te queremos lembrar: frente ao mar, nun xantar nun piñeiral no verán da Illa de Arousa, rodeada de xente querida, co teu sorriso amplo e luminoso presidindo a xornada e toda esa rede de afectos que teceches cal incansábel Penélope. 

Esa tarde houbo moita música, baños xélidos, aloumiños, confidencias e as nosas mans e os nosos corazóns unid@s, para sempre. Querémoste, irmá…

A carta di así...

Querida Uxi: 
Eu levo xa tanto vivido, tanto aprendido, tanto amado e tanto amor recibido que non podo dicir que a miña morte sexa inxusta. Indesexada si, como todas...que me encantaría vivir outros 47 anos, tamén. Sempre temos apego a vida, sobre todo porque sabemos que, pese aos seus mil amargores, a vida compensa. 

"Ter tido unha vida tan boa, tan rica, tan chea en coñecementos, curiosidades e, sobre todo afectos, é un regalo. Ter medo á morte cando a vida foi tan rica e intensa é normal, pero morrer tras unha vida así é, en realidade, unha sorte"..

Pero Uxi, non vou mentir dicindo que por veces non teña medo e rabia, pero é máis pola incerteza que pola morte en si mesma. 

Putada, o que se di unha putada grande e real sería ter vivido unha vida de merda, estar dende os 6 anos furgando na basura dos vertedoiros de Antanaribo, ou dende os 8 turrando dunha vagoneta de carbón en Bolivia, ou dende os 11 pechada nun burdel de Bankog!. Ter unha vida tan miserable que che fai desexar a morte como un alivio.

Iso é a gran putada...e hai millóns de persoas que sofren a vida, porque realmente a sofren, cada día. Ter tido unha vida tan boa, tan rica, tan chea en coñecementos, curiosidades e,sobre todo afectos, é un regalo. Ter medo á morte cando a vida foi tan rica e intensa é normal, pero morrer tras unha vida así é, en realidade, unha sorte...cánta xente morrería só por ter a metade do que eu tiven....

Polo demais, Uxía ben amada, ata nestas circunstancias, aínda que pareza estrano, son feliz, por moi grande é absurda que soe a palabra felicidade. 

Gostaríame morrer como no fermoso cadro de Leandro Lamas co que me agasallastes...facer unha festiña tranquila, poder vervos a todas e todos, despedirme de cada unha de vós, partillar un brinde pola vida, escoitarte por última vez cantar o Alalá das Mariñas e logo adormecer...sen dor, sen estertores, adurmiñarme repousando no peito de Etxaniz, ir notando como o sono me vence, como a túa voz soa cada vez máis baixiña no meu corazón, como os vosos sorrisos se van desdebuxando, perdendo as vosas individualidades ata se convertir nun sorriso único, cálido e amable coma o sol nun día de xuño...e xa non despertar máis. 

Ese é o meu último, íntimo gran desexo. Egoista, sen dúbida, pois en absoluto me preocupa a "outra parte", vós e a vosa tristura e desconsolo. 

Mais a vida foi tan boa comigo, tan boa con todas vós que ata nos está dando o tempo preciso para nos ir facendo á idea e que o salto definitvo non sexa tan traumático nen tráxico, senón unha dor miúda, serea e calma..e que esteades todas xuntas, todos xuntos, para vos consolar mutuamente e, cando xa eu teña adormecido para sempre, volveredes a brindar por min, se é que vos parece que o merezo. 

Bicos, Uxi. Quérote pola vida.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Letters in Books: A antesala luminosa

A loucura é un tema recorrente na literatura occidental desde as súas orixes: A Biblia, os mitos, Homero ou o teatro grego trataron dela. Dostoievski (Crime e castigo), Agatha Christie (And Then There Were None; Appointment With Death), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre), Edgar Allan Poe ("The Fall of the House of Usher") ou Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) son só algúns dos autores que fixeron unha interpretación literaria da loucura, ben reflectindo e/ou cuestionando suposicións médicas, políticas, culturais, relixiosas e psicológicas do seu tempo. Son evidencias da nosa propia preocupación polo funcionamento da mente e o enorme espectro da experiencia psíquica.

Dentro desta fascinación pola loucura e a ameaza que supón, enmárcase A antesala luminosa (2015), de Antonio Tizón, que constitúe a primeira dunha tetraloxía de novelas protagonizadas polo inspector Xosé Sánchez Pereiro. 

Decadente e depravada, a novela case se podería clasificar como "folk noir" a pesares de discorrer entre Ourense, Madrid, Santiago e Coruña, contra o telón de fondo de acontecementos históricos coma o golpe de estado en España, a invasión das Maldivas, ou o goberno de Fraga.

A aparición de dous cadáveres calcinados na madrugada de San Xoán desencadea a investigación de Sánchez Pereiro, que se resolve de xeito sucinto nas seis últimas páxinas. Realmente é unha escusa, e máis ben examinamos un grupo de xente e as súas relacións, e nun nivel máis profundo, facemos unha análise interna (a través da novela dentro da novela) e externa (a través da análise de Sánchez) dos desordes mentais ou da progresiva perda de cordura de Gustavo Gallego.

Gallego é a besta no corazón do labirinto, e somos testemuñas da desintegración das súas dúas historias: a vital e a narrativa. Igual que a novela, que recibimos en anacos, a de Gallego é unha vida fragmentaria, anaquiños dun espello que non chegan a reflectir a luminosidade desa antesala múltiple que se anticipa no título. Unha estancia que se concibe coma as celas da colmea que aparece no soño de Gallego (p. 209), poliédrica, interconectada, preludio de nada: ás veces é o matrimonio ou o amor ("a antesala luminosa do altar", pp. 39, 49, 124), outras é a morte ("a morte era unha antesala luminosa que se cruzaba para chegar a outra vida", p. 83, 124), outras a loucura ("... cruzarías estoutra antesala luminosa, que é a loucura, que conduce ó recanto máis escuro da alma", p. 124), outras a morte ("á escura disolución da memoria na morte, que conduce ó inferno", p. 124, 209) pero en todo caso sempre ten ese carácter inevitable e mesmo fatalista.

Onde está a luminosidade? Non hai solaz na desolación  da tolemia, non é "fantástica, non é creativa, non é marabillosa, non é bendición ningunha" (p. 126). Porque aínda que Gallego pode ser un tolo "marabilloso e nada perigoso" (p. 95),  "un tipo extravagante cunha sensibilidade especial" (p. 117), unicamente a comida e bebida (descritas en todo detalle) e as visitas aos prostíbulos proven un disfrute, aínda que sexa temporal.

Neste mundo escuro, escusa o lector de buscar o  punto de non retorno, o que manda a Gallego "round the bend".  Quizais o accidente? Non o sabemos. Ao mellor nin sequera chegou a ese punto onde xa non hai volta atrás. Ou quizais se desdebuxa a liña que separa cordura e loucura. Outras personaxes pasean por esa antesala da loucura, coma Pedro Souto Varela. Ao fin e ao cabo, "a esquizofrenia está ao alcance da mente" (p. 29). O mesmo Sánchez asoma ao limiar desta antesala. Coma o detective arquetípico, adoece de algo que o imposibilita ou bloquea para as relacións (mesmo as conexións) humanas, e tamén coma o clixé, déixase levar por unha tenaz persistencia a fin de resolver o caso.

A prosa non é para minimalistas, arde a lume lento, alternando os capítulos de investigación de Sánchez, máis  estruturados e dialogados, cos extractos da novela de Gallego, unha narrativa de corrido, sen parágrafos e case obsesiva, psicótica, estresante.

Hai cartas na novela: As de María ao seu mozo (p. 136), e en especial, "a carta do encantamento" (p. 35) que escribe Gustavo Gallego con ansias de "comunicar, de facer literatura". E é este aspecto de metaliteratura, de reflexión do acto de escribir e de ler, o que máis gocei do libro:

"A información ou é crítica ou non é nada. Crítica no sentido de cribar. Para informar hai que cribar, hai que seleccionar, hai que traballar" (p. 79)

"...recitando en voz alta os seus poemas predilectos, coa esperanza de recupera-lo sosego, de volver á realidade" (p. 84)

"Ningunha frase, por conmovedora que sexa; ningunha bágoa, por auténtica que pareza, pode substituí-la forza dos feitos" (p. 105)

"Por iso escribía desde sempre, porque era a forma máis barata, accesíbel e gratificante de crear mundos ó seu gusto. Logo queimaba os escritos que non aguantaban o paso do tempo..." (p. 106)

"Sería verdade iso que din algúns escritores que son incapaces de le-los seus textos unha vez publicados? (...) Ou é que lle daba vergonza? Espirse ante os demais sempre dá un pouco de vergoña. E no caso da literatura, só se xustifica se se fai con dignidade, con calidade artística" (p. 218).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Letters in Music: "Mr Mailman"

Billy Joe (B.J.) Thomas (1942) é un deses cantantes pop dos 60/70 dos que case todos coñecemos cancións, especialmente as súas famosas "Hooked On a Feeling", "Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", pero eu desde logo sempre esquezo o seu nome.

Hoxe deixámosvos unha canción que conta unha historia desgraciada. Mozo coñece moza en Georgia. El apunta nun caderno vermello o número e dirección dela. Volven ás súas casas (ela a New Orleans e el a Boston), pero cando el quere contactar con ela dase conta de que perdeu os datos, entón escribe esta canción para o carteiro pedíndolle que lle traia carta dela. 

Pobres carteiros, sempre no medio destas leas amorosas.

"Mr Mailman"

Mailman, Mailman
Have you any mail today
I've been waiting for a letter
I've tried to reach her every way

She's way down in New Orleans
And Boston's so far away
Funny how we met in Georgia
It had to be my lucky day

Well I had her name and number
Written down in my little red book
But when my plane flew in back home
It wasn't there when I took a look

Oh no

I know I searched for it everywhere
I wonder what shape my mind was in
But all I know I got to see her again

So mailman, mailman
Won't you help me sleep tonight
Won't you bring me just one letter
And everything will be alright
And everything will be alright

Mr. Mailman
Mr. Mailman
Mr. Mailman

Monday, October 24, 2016

Kurt Cobain's Suicide Note

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) was the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the Seattle-based rock band Nirvana. Nirvana served as outlet for millions of people the world over with their music and their passions. The last few years of Kurt Cobain's life were filled with drug addiction and the media pressures surrounding him and his wife Courtney Love.

On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead in his home in Seattle. His death was ruled by authorities as a suicide by self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. The circumstances surrounding Kurt Cobain's death have fueled much analysis and debate. One of the most compelling points surrounding his death was the suicide note that he left.


To Boddah

Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand.

All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true. I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guity beyond words about these things.

For example when we're back stage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowds begins., it doesn't affect me the way in which it did for Freddie Mercury, who seemed to love, relish in the the love and adoration from the crowd which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can't fool you, any one of you. It simply isn't fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch-in time clock before I walk out on stage. I've tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do,God, believe me I do, but it's not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. It must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they're gone. I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasms I once had as a child.

On our last 3 tours, I've had a much better appreciation for all the people I've known personally, and as fans of our music, but I still can't get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There's good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much, so much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don't you just enjoy it? I don't know!

I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what i used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point to where I can barely function. I can't stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I've become.

I have it good, very good, and I'm grateful, but since the age of seven, I've become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess.

Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away.

Peace, love, empathy.

Kurt Cobain

Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your alter.

Please keep going Courtney, for Frances.

For her life, which will be so much happier without me.


Bench along the riverside walk (Carballo)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Letters in Music: "Baltas laiškas"

We had presented a song about letters and writing in a previous post, which I came to know thanks to Simona Armonavičiūtė, who introduced me to Lithuanian culture and gave me all these references to letters and writing in their music.

This song, by Pikaso, "Baltas laiškas" is excellent to introduce us to the fall, its colors and coolness, a preface to winter time. It says something like this in the chorus:

 "Baltas laiškas" 

Is it cold without me? Are you cold? 
I write you a white letter in the snow again. 
Is it cold without me? Are you cold? 

The frost will draw a cold face on a window."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

II Galician Postcrossing Meetup: October 29th (Cabana de Bergantiños)

Postcrossing in Galicia is back for a second edition (even within the same year!), this time in Cabana de Bergantiños (Galicia, Spain). As you know from a previous entry, I went to CPI As Revoltas to give a workshop and to inform both teachers and students about the opportunities Postcrossing can offer them in terms of personal enrichment and language learning. 

I was very privileged, because I was met by an enthusiastic and very proactive group  who was eager to participate. Many of them have never received a postcard in their whole life, let alone a letter, and were really excited to write a card to students of The Oxford School in Dubai, and looking forward to receiving their answers. 

I also had the opportunity to talk to the principal, meet with the head of studies after a decade (!) and some of the teachers. We had an interesting conversation discussing the last time they had received letters, their relationship to pen pals, even family stories related to letters. A very enjoyable afternoon, which I have tried to summarize in the following video, along with some shots of the cards written by students where you can appreciate their love for our language (Galician), culture and place of birth.

The date for the meetup is coming up soon (October 29), and there have been ongoing preparations  during the whole month, which are actually part of a bigger project called "A Hundred Events to Commemorate the Hundredth Anniversary of  Eduardo Pondal's death" (March 8, 1937).

And what are the activities which will take place during the meetup? Here's a schedule, feel free to join us at any stage during the day!

11:00 - Meet at the Council to go on a group treasure hunt.

12:30 - 14:00 - Hiking route "Rego dos Muíños", where we will see several water mills and nice landscapes, leading us to Borneiro hillfort. 

14:00 - 14:30 - Guided tour of Borneiro hillfort with Ángel Eiroa.

14:30 - 15:30 - Lunch at San Martín (11€, please e-mail me at if you are interested in joining us).

15:30 - 17:00 - (At Dombate Dolmen) Visit the postcard exhibition and write the meetup cards.

17:00 - 18:00 - (At Dombate Dolmen) Storytelling

NOTE: In case it rains, there will be an alternative INDOOR plan.

Looking forward to seeing you there and writing together!

Words in Poems: Alejandra Pizarnik


cuidado con las palabras

tienen filo
te cortarán la lengua
te hundirán en la cárcel
no despertar a las palabras

acuéstate en las arenas negras
y que el mar te entierre
y que los cuervos se suiciden en tus ojos cerrados
no tientes a los ángeles de las vocales
no atraigas frases
no tienes nada que decir
nada que defender
sueña sueña que no estás aquí
que ya te has ido
que todo ha terminado

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Words in Poems: Modesto Fraga

Modesto Fraga (1974)

Cando no silencio berren as palabras
cando as árbores treman nos outeiros,
cando a festa semelle rosa púbere
cando os paxaros foxan tralo vento

cando os ventos varíen a maré
cando a lúa escureza un novo día
cando os días afoguen, cando as noites
cando as noites escurezan no silencio

cando no silencio berren as palabras 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Letters in Music: "Why Don't You Write Me?"

We had talked about Art Garfunkel in a previous post, but in this autumn morning, we will discuss  the duo, Simon and Garfunkel, who dominated the landscape of most of the 1960s folk music, with their distinct intuitive harmonies and Paul Simon's articulate songwriting. 

Their album Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970) is an old favorite of mine since the 90es, when I came to know their music and started to try to understand their lyrics. I remember playing "Cecilia" on repeat mode in my hi-fi until I learnt the words by heart, even I did not fully understand them. It is a totally infectious song with its penny whistle solo and handclap/thighslap percussion. Unforgettable. Timeless.

And the same happens with this perhaps lesser-known song, "Why Don't You Write Me?", which according to experts, reveals a surfeit of strange, exciting sonic details, as they insert small flourishes of sound like a disruptive skiffle beat.


"Why Don't You Write Me?" 

Why don't you write me
I'm out in the jungle
I'm hungry to hear you.

Send me a card,
I am waiting so hard
To be near you.

(La, la, la)
Why don't you write?

Something is wrong
And I know I got to be there.
Maybe I'm lost,
But I can't make the cost
Of the airfare, ooh

Tell me why (Why)
Tell me why (Why)

Why don't you write me,
A letter would brighten
My loneliest evening.

Mail it today
If it's only to say
That you're leaving me.
(La, la, la)

Monday morning, sitting in the sun
Hoping and wishing for the mail to come.
Tuesday, never got a word,
Wednesday, Thursday, ain't no sign,
Drank a half a bottle of iodine.
Friday, woe is me
Gonna hang my body from the highest tree.
Why don't you write me?
Why don't you write me?
Why don't you write me?
Why don't you write me?
Why don't you write me?
Why don't you write me?
Why don't you write me?

4th-century statue (Milan)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Letters in Books: Cartas de cumpleaños

Nunca celebrei os cumpreanos nin teño desexo de facelo. Entendo que se celebran como unha afirmación do que somos, de que seguimos vivos un ano máis, unha oportunidade de rendirse unha homenaxe a un/ha mesmo/a e celebrar o noso carácter único. Respecto aos que o fan, máis non lle vexo significado nin á celebración nin a ningún dos rituais asociados a ela. 

Moito menos aínda ás asociacións culturais de cada unha das etapas vitais. En inglés, por exemplo, déuselles por etiquetar as décadas "The Trying Twenties", "The Deadline Decade" (os trinta), "The Flourishing Forties", "The Flaming Fifties", "The Serene Sixties". En galego temos no noso refraneiro un resumo dos estereotipos máis comúns asociados á idade:

Ara con nenos e comerás cañotos.

Ó neno e á muller, dille soilo o que che conviñer. 
Os nenos son fillos de Dios i afillados do demo.
Mentras moza a troulear; dispois de vella a rezar.
Mozo de quince anos, tèn papo e non tèn azos.
O mozo pode morrer, pero o vello xa non está pra moito vivir.
Os mozos pra loitar, e os vellos pra aconsellar
Cando o vello é gaiteiro, ¿qué fará o mozo solteiro? 
Canto máis vello, máis pelexo. 
O vello i o forno pola boca se quentan: un con viño e outro con leña.
Vello que se namora, chama pola derradeira hora.
Porén, encántanme, coma seguro tamén vos gustan a vós, os regalos inesperados, porque si, coma este libro de Ted Hughes, Cartas de cumpleaños (2013), nunha edición bilingüe con traducións de Luis Antonio de Villena que me regalaron hai unhas semanas, coma recordo dun serán moi especial, con dedicatoria incluída.

De Ted Hughes e Sylvia Plath tense falado moito. Coñecéronse nunha festa na Universidade de Cambridge nos anos cincuenta, e casaron catro meses máis tarde.  Despois de varios anos de relación atormentada, Hughes abandonou a Plath e aos seus dous fillos pequenos e marchou vivir cunha muller casada, a poeta Assia Wevill. Plath, soa, e con poucos medios económicos, erguíase ás catro da mañá para escribir poemas antes de que espertaran os nenos. O 11 de febreiro de 1963, preparou o almorzo para os pequenos, abriu o gas e meteu a cabeza no forno. Hughes, que aínda era o seu marido legal, fíxose cargo dos manuscritos de Sylvia Plath, e editounos, pero tamén queimou algúns diarios dela (mesmo o que contaba os seus últimos días de vida), por xulgar que terían ocasionado un dano irreparable aos seus fillos.

O público admirador de Plath non llo perdoou, e o estigma que o converteu en causante do suicidio da súa dona acompañouno ata a morte. Da tumba da poeta, que lía "Sylvia Plath Hughes", arrancaban sistematicamente o apelido "Hughes".  Por se fose pouco, a poeta Assia Wevill tamén se suicidou (1969) por asfixia con gas despois de matar á filla que tivera con Hughes. Ted Hughes voltou casar, pero a traxedia seguiu presente na familia: no 2009 o seu fillo tamén se suicidou. No 1998, Hughes, enfermo de cancro (feito que mantivo en segredo) e sabendo que morrería axiña, completou o diario poético dirixido á súa muller, que comezara a escribir cando ela se suicidou.

Cartas de cumpleaños é un espectacular best-seller, un dos libros de poesía máis vendidos de todos os tempos, escrito durante uns vinte e cinco anos,  coas cartas coma unha especie de "privada transacción ilegal entre ela e eu" (p. 17), como lle contou a Seamus Heaney nunha carta. Son oitenta e oito poemas, oitenta e oito misivas que lle escribe á defunta desde a intimidade, desde o recordo da vida, non tanto para desmontar o mito de Plath, senón para ignoralo e convocar o tempo no doloroso movemento dos versos. 

Déixovos un extracto dun dos poemas, "Visit" (Visita).

Ten years after your death
I meet on a page of your journal, as never before,
The shock of your joy
When you heard of that. Then the shock
Of your prayers might not create the miracle,
Then, under the panic, the nightmare
That came rolling to crush you:
Your alternative – the unthinkable
Old despair and the new agony
Melting into one familiar hell.

Suddently I read all this – 
Your actual words, as they floated
Out through your throat and tongue and onto your page-
Just as when your daughter, years ago now,
Drifting in, gazing up into my face,
Where I worked alone
In the silent house, asked, suddenly:
“Daddy, where’s Mummy?” The freezing soul
Of the garden, as I clawed it.
All round me that midnight’s 
Giant clock of frost. And somewhere
Inside it, wanting to feel nothing, 
A pulse of fever. Somewhere
Insided that numbness of the earth
Our future trying to happen.
I look up – as if to meet your voice
With all its urgent future
That has burst in on me. Then look back
At the book of the printed words.
You are ten years dead. It is only a story.
Your story. My story.
Diez años después de tu muerte
encuentro una página de tu diario, como nunca antes,
el impacto de tu alegría
al saber todo aquello. Luego el impacto
de tus rezos. Y bajo esos rezos el pánico
de que tales rezos no creasen el milagro,
y luego, bajo el págino, la pesadilla
que llegó rodando para aplastarte:
tu alternativa, la vieja e impensable
desesperación y una agonía nueva
revueltas en un infierno familiar.

De repente leo todo eso,
tus auténticas palabras mientras salían flotando
de tu garganta y lengua para plasmarse en la página.
Igual que cuando tu hija, ya hace años,
entrando desnortada, mirándome a la cara,
donde yo trabajaba a solas
preguntó de repente, en el silencio de la casa:
“Papá, ¿dónde está mamá?” La helada tierra
del jardín, mientras la cavaba con las manos.
A mi alrededor el gigante reloj de escarcha
de aquella medianoche. Y algo dentro, 
en alguna parte, esperando no sentir nada.
Un pulso de fiebre. En algún lugar
dentro de la tierra entumecida
nuestro futuro intentando acontecer.
Alzo la mirada, como deseando alcanzar tu voz
con todo su urgente future
que me ha estallado dentro. Luego vuelvo a mirar
el libro de palabras impresas.
Llevas diez años muerta. Es solo una historia.
Tu historia. Mi historia.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Letters in Theatre: Voaxa e Carmín

As Marías, as inseparables irmás. Personaxes emblemáticas de Compostela inmortalizadas nunha estatua que lles rende homenaxe na entrada da Alameda e que serve de punto de encontro a locais e de souvenir fotográfico para os estranxeiros, aínda que pouca xente sabe os seus nomes reais, Coralia e Maruxa;  e moitos menos coñecen o drama persoal que se esconde detrás das caras maquilladas e das roupas coloridas. 

A historia de Coralia e Maruxa Fandiño explícase parcialmente neste artigo de El Mundo de hai uns anos, na páxina da Cultura Galega, nun documental, Coralia e Maruxa, as irmás Fandiño, de Xosé  H. Rivadulla Corcón e algún que outro libro de difícil acceso. 

Arturo Fandiño e Consuelo Ricart eran unha parella de artesáns, oficio tan frecuente naquel Santiago de principios do século XX. El, zapateiro, con obradoiro na Algalia de Arriba, n.º 32. Ela, costureira e bordadora, con obradoiro na súa propia casa, na rúa do Espírito Santo, profesión que van aprender e compartir, tamén as súas fillas, nacidas no seo dunha familia de once irmáns.

Cando as irmás Fandiño saían á rúa a pasear vestidas coa roupa feita na casa, con teas de cores, alegres e vivas coma elas, os estudantes galeguistas e republicanos chamábanlles “liberdade, igualdade e fraternidade” e os estudantes de dereitas, da CEDA, “fe, esperanza e caridade”. No entanto, este soño revolucionario afogouse en sangue o 18 de xullo do ano 1936. A sublevación militar franquista e a represión feroz —que na Galiza foi odio, opresión, asasinato e medo— chegou á familia Fandiño Ricart. Os irmáns lograron fuxir; ao principio tiveron mellor sorte que Ánxel Casal, Camilo Díaz Baliño, Recachanta, Narciso Fraga, os irmáns Pasín e un longo etcétera que cómpre aínda recuperar e que quedaron tirados, asasinados nas gabias. Mais elas, as mulleres da casa, a nai e as irmás, si que tiveron que vivir as ameazas, o aceite de rícino, o pelo rapado, os falanxistas que viñan controlar a calquera hora do día e da noite a casa, a intimidade e a dignidade da familia e das mulleres.

Chamáronlles “roxas”, tratáronas de “putas”. O traballo desapareceu como medio de sustento e de dignidade; a fame estivo presente diariamente nas súas vidas a partir de entón. Continuaron vivindo na rúa do Medio, naquela Compostela dos anos 40, 50, 60 e 70, onde só había escuridade, medo e silencio, moito silencio. O triángulo mortal e inquisidor que formaron Falanxe, Igrexa e Exército no franquismo triunfante tras a guerra esnaquizou a súa fraxilidade e a súa cabeza escachou coma o cristal. Sufriron as iras do réxime franquista e  persecución por motivos políticos. Foron interrogadas multitude de veces, torturadas e, incluso se di que violadas no Monte Pedroso, simplemente por negarse a dar a coñecer onde estaban dous dos seus irmáns, militantes da CNT fuxidos. A todos estos padecementos uníuselle, a principios dos anos sesenta, a destrución da súa casa por mor dun trono.

E as dúas irmás Fandiño, as mulleres máis coñecidas e retratadas de Compostela, “as Marías”, Maruxa (1898-1980) e Coralia (1914-1983), que sempre se quixo chamar Rocío, conseguiron crear un mecanismo de defensa para sobreviviren: tolearon, e na súa loucura recuperaron o soño da mocidade, escuálidas como se saísen dun campo de concentración, sen dentes, vestíronse de luz e cor e, cheas de afeites —coma se dunha representación de máscaras se tratase: po de arroz, colorete, carmín— nese Santiago da mediocridade, da miseria e do terror, todos os días, á mesma hora, marcada polas badaladas da Catedral, no verán desde a rúa do Espírito Santo até o Paseo no Toural, no inverno nos soportais da rúa do Vilar, desafiaban o gris do clima e da mente das xentes co seu facho de luz permanentemente aceso. E mesmo os estudantes ou visitantes que querían, coa súa galantería hipócrita, achegarse ás máscaras de cor, elas, coa dignidade recuperada e a forza da tolemia rexeitaban aquel “cortexo” respondendo: "Tú ya tienes". Quizais así viviron felices, na súa loucura desesperanzada e cruel, chea de fame e de miseria pero digna.

Esther F. Carrodeguas, que dirixe na actualidade o Cadro Artístico Airiños (o máis antigo en activo de Galiza), reescribe a historia destas mulleres en Voaxa e Carmín.

Mabel Rivera e Belén Constenla dan vida a Coralia e Maruxa, facendo unha interpretación física, expresiva, atrevida e chea de vida e forza, nun balancín de protagonismo, impulsado por Maruxa na primeira parte, e por Coralia na segunda. As voces, os xestos e mesmo a respiración disparan instantáneas precisas e punzantes que van revelando o dilema opaco, velado coma a noite, esa noite que é “coma un uniforme negro”, aínda que “o negro non é un color nin é nada”.

Entre “Sansón para o meu corazón”, a galleta convertida en voaxa, a viaxe ao mar, as chaves perdidas, o bolso roubado ou a ameaza dos uniformes, imos intuíndo a identidade das irmás, imos aprendendo dos “paseos pequeniños”, imos sabendo que hai  que calar, hai que saber como seguir camiñando, como vivir sen respirar, como “non mirar aínda que se vexa”.

Fotografía de Patri Fernández
Coralia e Maruxa, Maruxa e Coralia. Non sei decidir se son bolboretas ou abellas neste vaudeville traxicómico que, sen aspirar a ser un exposé político, serve para abrir cancelos idelóxicos e constitúe un recordatorio potente dun episodio da historia compostelá que non adoita traerse á memoria, unha afirmación da felicidade, pero tamén do trauma e da ferida como dínamo.

Dúas cartas na obra, as dúas escritas polas irmás e fiestras á súa vida interior: Unha delas para o estudante da Alameda, o “guapo” que lles gusta ás dúas; e a outra para o seu irmán Manuel.

E rematamos a entrada cun texto de Teresa Moure:

"Cando os reloxos pararon, Coralia e Maruxa aprenderon o que saben todos os derrotados: que unha vez que che quitan a dignidade, xa nada máis poden facerche. Por iso, as dúas en punto é a hora da rebeldía. Son as dúas en punto."

Words in Poems: Carina Sedevich



En diez palabras nos decimos todo:
quince años de esta vida,
tres reencarnaciones.

También los pájaros
que habitan en la orilla
comprenden cómo el mar
ocurre en el océano.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hands in Poems: Alda Merini (III)

Lirica antica

Caro, dammi paroli di fiducia
per te, mio uomo, l'unico che amassi
in lunghi anni di stupido terrore,
fa che le mani m'escano dal buio
incantesimo amaro che non frutta...
Sono gioeilli, vedi, le mie mani,
sono un linguaggio per l'amore vivo
ma una fosca catena le ha ben chiuse
ben legate ad un ceppo. Amore mio
ho sognato di te come si sogna
della rosa e del vento,
sei purissimo, vivo, un equilibrio
astrale, ma io sono nella notte
e non posso ospitarti. Io vorrei
che tu gustassi i pascoli che in dono
ho sortiti di Dio, ma la paura
mi trattiene nemica; oso parole,
solamente parole e se tu ascolti 
fiducioso il mio canto, veramente
so che ti esalterai delle mie pene.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Letters in Music: "Love Letters"

Dos anos vividos en Kansas (EEUU) quedáronme moitos coñecementos, estupendos recordos e mellores amigos. 

E sempre hai mecanismos de viaxes no tempo e no espazo para rememorar vivencias, como por exemplo, escoitar a Joe Walsh (1947), nado en Wichita (Kansas). Cameron Crowe dixo del no 1975  que "destacaba entre os mellores guitarristas de rock and roll". Xa daquela outros grandes coma Eric Clapton e Jimmy Page eran fans de Walsh. E isto foi antes de que entrase a formar parte de The Eagles e fixese contribucións inolvidables a cancións coma "Hotel California" e "Life in the Fast Lane".

"Love letters"

Love letters straight from your heart
Keep us so near, yet apart
I'm runnin' low in the night
When I can have all the love you write

I memorize every line
And I kiss the name that you sign, yes I do
And darling then I read again right from the start
Love letters straight from your heart

Love letters straight from your heart
Keep us so near, yet apart
I'm runnin' low in the night
When I can have all the love you write

I memorize every line
I kiss the name that you sign, oh darling
And only then I read again right from the start
Love letters straight from your heart

Keep 'em coming
Love letters straight from your heart.

Lawrence, Kansas