Never begin a paragraph with a parenthesis. (I shall have to ask LanguageHat where that jag thing, that expression, comes from--perhaps the rule, as well.) But, yes, it's a poetry jag, somewhat akin to the kind of feeling one gets after not having seen any paintings lately, no art, and then you get to wallow in it, sop up color, texture, edge... Entonces, poesia!
Dying in A Turkish Bath
Did you ever attend a public bath?
The candle near me blew out,
And I became blind.
The blue of the dome disappeared.
They relit the candle on the navel stone.
The marble was wiped clean.
I saw some of my face in it.
It was bad, something awful,
And I became blind.
I didn't quite expect this from my face.
Did you ever sob
While covered in soap?
©trans. Murat Nemet-Nejat
Rueing the most rue-able exclusion of modern Turkish poetry of the late 1920's through the early 1970's from Western anthologies, Nemet-Nejat begins a fascinating analysis of this poetry as "a godless Sufism." Forget those sodden translations of Mevlana Djelatettin Rumi, a Turkish poet who wrote in Persian, those collections of his work with dust jackets decorated with rug patterns that New Agers scarf up like the fat lady in front of a plate of cookies:
Though he is a very great poet, the choice is unfortunate. Rumi's images of "universe," "drink,", "dance," "whirling dervishes," etc., feed into the sense of the East (partly derriving from Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat) already existing in the West. Hooking on these already familiar images, translators miss the drastic changes English needs to assimilate the Sufi world sense and language.
In fact, I bet--just time it--that the minute this gets posted, ads for the latest translations of Rumi will find their way to the top of this page; I have seen them already on others' blogs. I never realized how much the general public assumes about the nature of Turkish poetry, just having read Rumi in English.
But I have been thinking about poetry like I haven't for years. Consider: a language that is declined and thus a swinging word order*, open or closed vowels--ahhh! Syntax that is rhythm, rhythm that is meaning, vanishing pronouns, nonexistant gender... Here is a poetry that, elusive, demands your attention, like a spoiled, expensive lover.
What Nemet-Nejat tells us is that the Turkish poetry of this era is deliciously, startlingly transgressive. We do not know that Rumi would approve.
Mo' better latuh--I am behind!
*As in if you ain't got that_______, then you ain't got that etc., etc.
--you know the drill.
And, of course, all © to the appropriate auteurs!
this entry will simply have to join the party in "almost" attire: almost proper, almost correct, almost the same hue between the jacket and the rest of my get-up, shoes not quite right...But, quicksand of this blogcess, this one is not about soi-meme. No.
Aishe's Wedding Ring
This is a preview for a later blog. But I will say this: Murat Nemet-Nejat is another poet whom I have just discovered through the indefatigable efforts of Ed Foster, and, in addition to writing his own poems, Murat has been working on translating contemporary Turkish poetry for a forthcoming Talisman Press publication--subject the same, of course.
Recently, I heard Nemet-Nejat's work at a poetry event, and upon my expressing admiration for them, he generously handed me his copies of all the poems he had just read; I stuffed them into my backpack. Days later, Ed Foster casually shoved a sheaf of zeroxes into my waiting paw: "here is an article written by Nemet-Nejat on Turkish poetry..."
"--and are ALL those poems attached translated by the author?"
Sigh. The pages in my backpack multiply...Just a glimpse as I scurry through my workaholic life--just a peek-- The anticipation is like that millisecond catch in your breath when you realize the person you are about to meet for second time is the person with whom you will fall in love.avapvfopuli [12:20 a. m.]
Nature, of course.
Earlier this month, I left a family gathering in New England, with my aunt at the wheel and, moi, therefore, with eyes free to roam. I have always been the person who spots the huge hawk staring impassively from a roadside branch, the shadow of a deer dappling into woods. I can even do it while driving.
"Look! look at the _________," I say
"Where, where?" (The respondent, not seeming to know how to scan, never sees what I see. You have to be quick!)
The car lumbered over the dirt road leading back out of my mother- and sister-in-law's cottage, past the pond the beavers, in their incessant chawing, build, dam, and re-dam when the humans break through to get a dry road again. Early July, sun eking its way through the clouds, the tiger lilies beginning, blue chickory tilting towards the roadside through the sweetgrass, and, then, there it was! Awkward, adolescent paws, sandy furred hide--a wild cat--not a bobcat (no eartufts), couldn't see whether or not it had a tail, but not small enough to be an adolescent lynx, not a ferile felix sylvestris but the real thing, a half-grown mountain lion. "Look!"
Kipling--or was it Tennyson--referred to mother as "red in tooth and claw". Oh give me claw!