Friday, October 28, 2016

Poetry Friday: A Poem by Ekaterina Yosifova

Bulgarian journalist and poet Ekaterina Yosifova

I sorted through a big pile of random papers the other day, trying to get organized (ha!), and found a poem I tore out of a review discovered in a neighbor's free Little Library - didn't remember what review it was that I'd found it in, though I've now looked it up (Black Warrior Review, Fall/Winter 1991.) I re-read the poem and, after maybe a year or two of its being buried in one stack of papers and another, I continue to love it, so I'll share it here today. A small treasure, found, then lost, then found again. As autumn rains come down, and Novembrrrrrrrrr approaches, I begin to think of winter. So - "Beneath Winter's Roof" - what could be there? Here's what Ekaterina Yosifova found:
Beneath Winter's Roof

Let us honor the offerings,
let us cut quinces for the wine,
let us bring out memory's salty grapes.

Yes, it was wonderful,
we experienced all we could
(which wasn't so little, after all)
and pain is joy's companion.

The heart's eternal love song--
this priceless game that can rescind all verdicts.
We'd wake up ready for joy
since we were children, taught to forgive.

We tried out a scream and all kinds of silence,
all kinds of words-- the earth's big enough,
we won't weigh her down
--but we could even keep silent like old friends.

Wonderful world, where
the most important questions go unanswered,
where sweet wells don't run dry,

and the future
will be no less vast without us.

                   Ekaterina Yosifova  (translation by Lisa Sapinkopf)

Here is a link to a brief interview of the poet, who is Bulgarian. In it, she says two things that interest me. First this, about reading and writing poetry:

It doesn’t matter which readers, it doesn’t matter whose poetry – as long as it’s Poetry. It exists. Everywhere and at all times, since man (pre-literacy) felt excited by owning this peculiar sense of understanding, entering…We need it. The encounters are joyful." 

That's nice, isn't it, the feeling that poetry is a "peculiar sense of understanding" and that encountering it is "joyful"?

Later in the interview, she talks about being a young woman in Sofia in the late 60's, unable to find poetry translated from the English:  

American literature was starting to get published [in Bulgaria]; there were lines in front of the bookstores, more and more fiction was being translated, with “clarifying” forewords. But not poetry. Was it because poetry did not yield to “clarifications”?

Poetry not yielding to clarification. I like that idea.

Don't forget to vote on November 8th!!!

And don't forget right now to head over to the Poetry Friday round-up - it's being hosted by the wonderful Linda Baie over at Teacher Dance (and while you're there, you might just learn a thing or two about "stirdulation." And no, despite the sound of that word, it's not an activity baristas engage in.)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Poetry Friday: Head-to-Toe Poetry

I know there will be many posts this week about Western Washington University's wonderful Poetry Camp - attended by interested teachers, librarians and writers in the area, as well as almost 40 poets, most of them contributors to these Poetry Friday posts of ours and to the  Poetry Friday anthologies put together by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell.  I had the chance to meet people whose names I've seen here for years but whom I've never actually met. And I was asked by Janet and Sylvia to present a 90-minute quick-write workshop the day before Camp, when the PF poets had their own day-long meeting -  I talked about the Oulipo group and their idea that "constraints" on writing (such as wordplay and/or limiting the vowels you can use, or the syllables per line, etc.) actually free you up to be more unpredictable, to surprise yourself and thus surprise your readers. Oh, I could have played around with that all day! But we actually only ended up with 60 minutes, running behind, before the group moved on to more practical matters.  I've come home determined to play around with more constraints.

My favorite moment at Poetry Camp was seeing Sylvia Vardell walk in with poetry stockings and a poetry dress - she was all poetry, outside and in. So I thought today I would share the photo I took, and I would ask if anyone knows what poem was on her stockings. It is awkward to ask someone to stand still while you read their legs (!!) and I missed my moment to ask her. If you were smart and happened to ask Sylvia - tell us what that poem is, will you? There should be two poems, actually, because the first day Sylvia was in white stockings with text and the second day (pictured above) she was in rose pink. And what a dress - "Share Poetry" - we all loved it! Head to toe, poetry!!!!

Added note: For everyone serious about finding a pair of those stockings/tights, they are for sale on Etsy. com - click here for the link. 

Violet Nesdoly is the Poetry Friday host this week. Click here to read her post and link to the round-up.