Friday, October 15, 2010

"Everybody" by Pablo Nedura

I, perhaps I never will be, perhaps I was not able,
never was, never saw, don’t exist:
what is all this? In which June, in what wood
did I grow until now, being born and born again?

I didn’t grow, never grew, just went on dying?

In doorways, I repeated
the sound of the sea,
of the bells:
I asked for myself, with wonder,
(and later with trembling hands),
with little bells, with water,
with sweetness:
I was always arriving late.
I had traveled far from who I was,
I could not answer any questions about myself,
I had too often left who I am.

I went to the next house,
to the next woman,
I traveled everywhere
asking for myself, for you, for everybody:
and where I was not there was no one,
everywhere it was empty
because it wasn’t today,
it was tomorrow.

Why search in vain
in every door in which we will not exist
because we have not arrived yet?

That is how I found out
that I was exactly like you
and like everybody.

-from "The Sea and the Bells"
translated by William O’Daly



Yo tal vez yo no seré, tal vez no pude,
no fui, no vi, no estoy:
qué es esto? Y en qué Junio, en qué madera
crecí hasta ahora, continué naciendo?

No crecí, no crecí, seguzí muriendo?

Yo repetí en las puertas
el sonido del mar,
de las campanas:
yo pregunté por mí, con embeleso
(con ansiedad más tarde),
Ya estaba lejos mi anterioridad,
ya no me respondía yo a mí mismo,
me había ido muchas veces yo.

Y fui a la próxima casa,
a la próxima mujer,
a todos partes
a preguntar por mí, por ti, por todos:
y donde yo no estaba ya no estaban,
todo estaba vacío
porque sencillamente no era hoy,
era manana.

Por qué buscar en vano
en cada puerta en que no existiremos
porque no hemos llegado todavía?

Así fue como supe
que yo era exactamente como tú
y como todo el mundo.


perhaps i never will be,
perhaps i was not able,
never was,
never saw,
don’t exist:
what is all this?
in which June,
in what wood
did i grow until now,
being born and born again?

i didn’t grow,
never grew,
just went on dying?

in doorways, i repeated
the sound of the sea,
of the bells:
i asked myself, with wonder
(and later with trembling hands),
with little bells, with water,
with sweetness:
i was always arriving late.
i had traveled far from who i was,
i could not answer any questions
about myself,
i had too often left who i am.

i went to the next house,
to the next woman,
i traveled everywhere
asking for myself, for you,
for everybody:
and where i was not there was no one,
everywhere it was empty
because it wasn't today,
it was tomorrow.

why search in vain
in every door in which we will not exist
because we have not arrived yet?

this is how i found out
that i was exactly like you
and like everybody

--alternate translation
(translator unknown)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Letter To N.Y." by Elizabeth Bishop

Just heard this on Fresh Air; it reminded me why I love poetry so...
In your next letter I wish you'd say
where you are going and what you are doing;
how are the plays and after the plays
what other pleasures you're pursuing:

taking cabs in the middle of the night,
driving as if to save your soul
where the road goes round and round the park
and the meter glares like a moral owl,

and the trees look so queer and green
standing alone in big black caves
and suddenly you're in a different place
where everything seems to happen in waves,

and most of the jokes you just can't catch,
like dirty words rubbed off a slate,
and the songs are loud but somehow dim
and it gets so terribly late,

and coming out of the brownstone house
to the gray sidewalk, the watered street,
one side of the buildings rises with the sun
like a glistening field of wheat.

--Wheat, not oats, dear. I'm afraid
if it's wheat it's none of your sowing,
nevertheless I'd like to know
what you are doing and where you are going.

-Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PhilaNOMA Art Expo 2010

I'll be showing some of my artwork (wax collage / conceptual sculpture / video installation) tomorrow at the PhilaNOMA 2nd Annual Art Expo and Networking Event. That'll be at Triumph Brewery in Old City; so you can grab some good locally grown organic food and a couple of their great craft beers, as well, while you’re there:
@ 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Triumph Brewing Company (2nd Flr Gallery)
117 Chestnut Street - Philadelphia, PA 19106
This unique exhibition showcases works of art created by some of Philadelphia's finest urban architects, artists, photographers, graphic artists, fashion and interior designers.

Enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres while networking amongst entrepreneurs and artistic individuals from various professions. There will be something for all art lovers to enjoy, including photography, illustration, paintings, poetry, fashion and more! COME to browse, buy or just mingle amongst friends...

Happy hour drink specials are available until 9:30pm.

Admission is $5 donation* at the door WITH EVENTBRITE RSVP.

*Proceeds from this event will help benefit PhilaNOMA's CAMP Sustain.Ability program for 8th & 9th grade students interested in architecture. Visit for more information.

I hope you can make it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Handing over the Reins

Since I haven't been very active in the Philadelphia poetry circles recently, I've been thinking of handing over the Philly Poetry website, calendar and Facebook group to someone else who's more involved these days. And as readers of this blog, I thought I'd offer you this opportunity and see if any of you would be interested in taking it on.

The calendar and the website are still the no. 1 & 2 search results on Google for "Philadelphia poetry", so they get some decent exposure. I currently pay $30 every 6 months for the web-hosting of the site (along with my own personal site, through 1&1). I have ads on it, but I have to say I have yet to collect any revenue from them. We can figure out how to transfer the hosting of the site and other details, if you're interested. Let me know...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Diet Man"

There's a belly in heaven that I love.
It wriggles with satisfaction
like a Buddha's would
at the sight of Jello and whipped cream.
______It doesn't give a damn.
There's a belly in heaven that I miss.
______It jiggles with beer.
It's great for a hug and a squeeze.
It devours cakes, cookies, and pies.
It shakes, rolls, and giggles at bad jokes.

______Get out of my sight diet man.
Take a hasty trolley to hell
______mean man,
______lean man,
______bean man,
______exacting man.

new man,
reasoning man,
jogging man,
calculating man,

______whose thoughts you won't reveal,

sly man.

by Angela d'Arista Solli
from Regrets Only: Contemporary Poets on the Theme of Regret

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Beirut (Song of Eternal Damnation)

Forgive me
for writing to you in a language foreign to you,
not that I know what language you speak,
you who speaks them all in silence…

Forgive me
for writing from a distance,
for writing reluctantly,
for writing seldom…

I only write because he asked me to,
he who loves you,
he who lives you.
I write because I’m incapable of refusing him such a request,
and because, yes, I miss you…

But I’m not sure I got anything left to say to you.
I feel that I’ve said it all, and I’ve said it often.
Some have heard it, many have not.
But you, I don’t know if you can hear…
I’m not sure anymore if you exist,
for who are you but those who haunt you?
And those who haunt you are mad, and I’m one of them
even if I’ve abandoned you…

Did you mourn me when I left you?
I did, for the both of us.
But sorrow moves on,
like everything, with time it all does,
as the old song goes…
And what remains when the sorrow’s gone?
Is it love? Or is it only a stale bitter anger?
Sometimes they taste the same…

What I fear is what’s left when even that anger passes;
for that, too, shall pass…
I fear because I do not know the reasons for my anger;
but what is anger if not the lack of reason?
It may not be your fault or mine,
but I’m angry at being treated like a second-rate human
solely for being born to you.
I’m angry because I can’t seem to live with you,
as I can’t seem to live without you,
to quote another old song…
I’m angry because your inhabitants are mad,
and your drivers are mad,
and your leaders are both murderous and mad…
I’m angry because your beauty is invisible,
and no one will take my word for it,
for I too, like the rest of them, am mad…

I look to other cities:
they too are ugly and beautiful at once,
and they too are all mad.
I look to other people;
they are all maddening
and stupid and proud.
But your people have made of chaos an art,
and have made you anything but dull…

I still don’t get it, Beirut.
I don’t get why I insist on addressing you as a person;
I don’t know why we all do.
I don’t know if any other people address their city as we address you.
For you are nothing but our very own collective being,
you are what we call us.
And we love ourselves,
and we hate ourselves,
and we, ultimately, do not understand ourselves…

I shall return to you,
forever and again,
you, my song of eternal damnation.
For I still don’t get you, and I don’t get me, and I don’t get them…
And yet I love you, and I love you, and I love you,
and yes, despite all, I love them, too…
For they are you, and you are them,
my Beirut.

Like This

A great poem by Rumi, selected by the incomparable Tilda Swinton as the inspiration for the latest Etat Libre d'Orange perfume, Like This:

If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
and say,

Like this.

When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the nightsky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,

Like this.

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.

Like this.

When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.

Like this.

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.

When someone asks what it means
to “die for love,” point

If someone asks how tall I am, frown
and measure with your fingers the space
between the creases on your forehead.

This tall.

The soul sometimes leaves the body, the returns.
When someone doesn’t believe that,
walk back into my house.

Like this.

When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.

Like this.

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.

Like this.

When someone asks what there is to do,
light the candle in his hand.Like this.

How did Joseph’s scent come to Jacob?

How did Jacob’s sight return?

A little wind cleans the eyes.

Like this.

When Shams comes back from Tabriz,
he’ll put just his head around the edge
of the door to surprise us

Like this.

-From Essential Rumi (translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)

Make sure you listen to Swinton's incredible reading of this poem on ELdO's website:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Language Rooms @ Wilma Theater: Special Offer!

The Wilma Theater presents the world premiere of Yussef El Guindi's LANGUAGE ROOMS, March 3 - April 4, a riveting dark comedy directed by Blanka Zizka about misguided patriotism and the true meaning of 'loyalty.'

Tickets start at $36, and the Wilma offers discounts for students and those in their 20s. Get $5 off full price tickets with code "Al Bustan" (not valid on Sat or Opening nights, cannot be combined with any other offer or applied to tickets previously purchased).
Click here to read an interview with playwright Yussef El Guindi who is of Egyptian heritage.

Thanks to Al Bustan!
Parental advisory: thematic content not appropriate for children.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2:22 am

It's late, and I'm spent. And yet I cannot sleep. I seek recluse, as I often do these days, in that book that fell into my life by accident (does anything ever happen by accident?) and has been my bedside companion ever since: Joe Bolton's exalted "The Last Nostalgia". I read it with the pain of knowing that Bolton won't write another (since he took his own life at the age of 28 soon after finishing it). I read it with the fear of finishing it, like the work of Dalida that I dread to know entirely because I am aware of its finiteness and its finality. I wrote in my review of it on Amazon that it would be the one book I'd take to a deserted island--and it's only because I can't commit all of it to memory. Now I understand people who want to commit the Quran to memory: to love a book so much, to find its construction so perfect as to want to make it a part of your self. I turn every page in awe and in anticipation of that voracious humanity, that attuneness to life that proved to be overwhelming. I jump over the words hoping to find in them that which would still that little void perched right above the lungs, at the base of the throat, croaking at the end of the night, longing to be whole..