The Poetry of Noni Benegas Read by Robin Ouzman Hislop Translated from Spanish by Noël Valis

From BURNING CARTOGRAPHY
The Poetry of Noni Benegas
Translated by Noël Valis

Another Light
For Paul Virilio

Groping through the house, blind steps
of chalk
with the light of dreams
suddenly opaque or radiant
Who shimmers that screen
in the darkened brain?
Like skin withering on the inside
the mystery of that glow persists

Otra luz
A Paul Virilio

A tientas por la casa con pasos
de tiza
con la luz de los sueños
tan pronto opaca o radiante
¿Quién alumbra esa pantalla
en el cerebro a oscuras?
Como la piel se aja desde dentro
el misterio de ese fulgor persiste

**

A Flower
For Ana Basualdo

The camellia sliver in the wake
of the boat at night
when the petal draws back
a trembling universe
like the line of flotation

**

Una flor
Ana Basualdo

La tenue camelia en la estela
del barco nocturno
cuando el pétalo descorre
un universo trémulo
como la línea de flotación

**

Traveling

Travelers who reach Medina de Raj-Kasar
are surprised to see its image repeated
–for instance—in the guide’s
topaz ring or in the pool-encircled moat
or even in the festive fountain’s inner courtyard
Travelers who reach Medina de Raj-Kasar
after crossing between two moons
the desert of Al-Ahmir
sigh before the delicate towers and dream
of filigreed chambers and soothful hookahs
Do travelers reach Medina
or someone reach Raj-Kasar at a precise moment
dusty curious indolent?
Medina de Raj-Kasar traveling toward the Atlas
of travelers
is pleasantly surprised before the fresh-faced passenger
standing intrepid in the middle
of the glittering oasis

**

Viajar

Los viajeros que llegan a la Medina de Raj-Kasar
se sorprenden al divisar su imagen repetida
–pongamos por caso—en el anillo de topacio
del guía o en la acequia que rodea el foso
o aun en la fuente que acoge el patio interior
Los viajeros que arriban a la Medina de Raj-Kasar
luego de atravesar entre dos lunas
el desierto de Al-Ahmir
suspiran ante las finas torres y sueñan
con el salón filigranado y el narguile conciliador
¿Llegan los viajeros a la Medina
alguien arriba en un momento preciso a Raj-Kasar
polvoriento curioso indolente?
La Medina de Raj-Kasar viajando hacia los viajeros
del Atlas
se sorprende gratamente ante el rubicundo pasajero
que se alza impávido en medio
del iridiscente oasis

**

Frida Kahlo
For Jan Lumas

Was it a work of art or her desire? a column
like harvested steel then fangs like jade
careening steeply
It beat with the bold haste
of temples foretold: the wind adrift
in teeth the eyebrows a buffalo bower
the stamp of the sphinx on asphalt
Was it a work of art or her desire? a column
of damp chalk posed day after day beneath the
agile pupil forever flowering

**

Frida Kahlo
A Jan Lumas

¿Era una obra de arte o su deseo ? una columna
de símil de acero segada más una alta carena
de colmillos de jade
Latía con la prisa impávida
de los templos futuros: el viento entornado
entre los dientes las cejas de dosel de búfalo
la impronta de esfinge sobre el asfalto
¿Era una obra de arte o su deseo ? una columna
de tiza húmeda posada día tras día bajo la
ágil pupila en floración perenne

**

Interruptions

Is it true her face keeps the impressions
of wakefulness,
the landscape seen through the train window
fleetingly deciphered;
is it true her face is interrupted?

Seated across from me
was the sacred icon
of an old Hollywood actress
old age stamped in her features,
not definitively decayed,
but very close.

In improbable transit
those features;
an abandoned aerodrome
with grass on the runway and wind
from the ends of the world.

But there is a canal
that boats go up, of liquid
crystal, oars and noises and houses
alive on its banks,

Her face swarms
swirling with malice.
Could she only have seen what she saw?
As if something were suspended
between two canals
in the stagnant waters of her cheek . . .

Is it true her face is interrupted,
what if the interruption isn’t a landscape or a sound
but simply me?


**

Interrupciones

¿Hasta qué punto su rostro guarda las impresiones
de la vigilia,
el paisaje visto a través de la ventanilla
descifrado por momentos;
hasta qué punto su rostro tiene interrupciones?

Sentada frente a mí
era un Buey Apis que era
una vieja actriz de Hollywood
pues anunciaba la vejez en sus rasgos,
no definitivamente añeja,
pero ya próxima.

De tránsito improbable
esos rasgos;
cerrado un aeródromo en desuso
con hierbas en la pista y viento
de techo del mundo.

Mas hay un canal
que las barcas remontan de cristal
fluido, remos y ruidos y casas
vivas en las orillas,

hay un hormigueo en su rostro
hecho de malicia y remolinos.
¿Sólo habrá visto lo que vio?
Si algo quedara en suspenso
entre dos canales
en el remanso de la mejilla . . .

¿Hasta qué punto su rostro tiene interrupciones,
si la interrupción no fuera paisaje o sonido
sino simplemente yo?

**

 

 
Noni Benegas, born in Buenos Aires and resident in Spain since 1977, is the author of seven books of poetry; a selection is collected in El Ángel de lo súbito, Ed. Fondo de Cultura Económica, (Madrid, 2014). Burning Cartography, Ed. Host, (Austin TX, 2007 and 2011) is a selection of these poems in English, and Animaux Sacrés, Ed. Al Manar (Séte 2013) in French. She has won the Platero Prize from the UN in Geneva; the Miguel Hernández National Prize for Poetry, as well as Vila de Martorell award, the Rubén Darío Prize from Palma in Mallorca, the Esquío Prize in Galicia. She is the author of the influential anthology of contemporary Spanish women poets Ellas tienen la palabra, Ed. Hiperión (Madrid, 2008, 4th edition) whose introductory essay, with a new prologue, articles, interviews and an epilogue has been recently collected by Ed. Fondo de Cultura Economica in 2017 with the same title. Ellas Resisten. Mujeres poetas y artistas (1994-2019) is a selection of her essays on women writers and artists published by Ed. Huerga & Fierro
 
 
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times ; at Artvilla.com
You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

Robin Ouzman Hislop Reads Carmen Crespo’s Poem Tesserae

Tesserae translated from the Spanish award winning Teselas by Carmen Crespo by Robin Ouzman Hislop & Amparo Arróspide, this is an audio version of the original translated text in Spanish & English, which can be purchased at Tesserae Carmen Crespo Amazon.com
 

 
 
 

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Amparo Arrospide (Argentina) is a Spanish poet and translator. She has published seven poetry collections, Mosaicos bajo la hiedra, Alucinación en dos actos algunos poemas, Pañuelos de usar y tirar, Presencia en el Misterio, En el Oido del Viento, Hormigas en Diáspora and Jaccuzzi, as well as poems, short stories and articles on literary and film criticism in anthologies and in both national and foreign magazines.
She has received numerous awards. Editor’s Note: see also Poetry, National Literature Prize 2018, Francisca Aguirre, Translated from Spanish by Amparo Arróspide & Robin Ouzman Hislop Her latest work Valle Tiétar is published by El sastre de Apollinaire Poesía,32 www.elsastredeapollinaire.com
 
 
 

 

Robin Ouzman Hislop is on line Editor at Poetry Life & Times at Artvilla.com. His numerous appearances include Cold Mountain Review (Appalachian University, N.Carolina), The Honest Ulsterman, Cratera No 3 and Aquillrelle’s Best. His publications are collected poems All the Babble of the Souk, Cartoon Molecules, Next Arrivals & Moon Selected Audio Textual Poems. A translation from Spanish of poems by Guadalupe Grande Key of Mist and Carmen Crespo Tesserae, the award winning (X111 Premio César Simón De Poesía), in November 2017 these works were presented in a live performance at The International Writer’s Conference hosted by the University of Leeds. UK. A forthcoming publication of collected poems Off the Menu is expected in 2020

 

You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

 

THE VIRUS MONOLOGUE. Translation from Source: https://lundi.am/Monologue-du-virus by Amparo Arróspide & Robin Ouzman Hislop

THE VIRUS MONOLOGUE
 
 
“I came to shut down the machine for which you could not find the emergency brake. “
 
 
“Silence, dear humans, all your ridiculous calls to war. Lower the looks of revenge you have on me. Turn off the halo of terror that surrounds my name. We, viruses, from the bacterial background of the world, are the true continuum of life on Earth. Without us, you would never have seen the light of day, nor would the first cell.
 
We are your ancestors, just like stones and algae, and much more than monkeys. We are everywhere you are and where you are not too. Too bad for you, if you only see in the universe what is your liking! But above all, stop saying that I’m the one killing you. You do not die from my action on your tissues, but from the lack of care of your fellow men. If you weren’t as rapacious among yourself as you were with everything that lives on this planet, you would still have enough beds, nurses and respirators to survive the damage I do to your lungs. If you did not store your old people in dying rooms and your able-bodied people in reinforced concrete hutches, you would not be there. If you had not changed the yesterday still luxuriant, chaotic, infinitely populated vastness of the world or rather of the worlds into a vast desert for the monoculture of the Same and the More, I would not have been able to launch out a planetary conquest of your throats.
 
If you had not almost all become, throughout the last century, redundant copies of a single and unsustable form of life, you would not be preparing to die like flies abandoned in the water of your sweet civilization. If you hadn’t made your backgrounds so empty, so transparent, so abstract, believe me that I wouldn’t be moving at the speed of an aircraft. I have only come to carry out the sanction which you have long since pronounced against yourselves. Forgive me, but it is you, as far as I know, who coined the name “Anthropocene”. You have claimed all the honor of the disaster; now that it is accomplished, it is too late to give it up. The most honest among you know this well: I have no other accomplice than your social organization, your madness of the “big scale” and its economy, your fanaticism for the system. Only systems are “vulnerable”. The rest live and die. There is “vulnerability” only with regard to control, its extension and its improvement. Look at me carefully: I am only the reverse of the reigning Death.
 
So stop blaming me, accusing me, tracking me down. Stop paralyzing against me. All of this is childish. I offer you a conversion of the look: there is an immanent intelligence in life. You don’t have to be a subject to have a memory or a strategy. You don’t have to be sovereign to decide. Bacteria and viruses can also make rain and sun shine. So see me as your savior rather than your gravedigger. Feel free to believe me, but I came to shut down the machine for which you could not find the emergency brake. I have come to suspend the operation of which you were the hostages. I came to demonstrate the aberration of “normality”. “To delegate our food, our protection, our ability to take care of our living environment to others was madness” … “There is no budgetary limit, health is priceless”: see how I have the language and the spirit of your governors forked! See how I bring them back to their real rank of miserable swindlers, and arrogant with that! See how suddenly they denounce themselves not only as superfluous, but as harmful! You are for them only the supports of the reproduction of their system, even less than slaves. Even plankton is treated better than you.
 
Be careful, however to blame their shortcomings. Avoid wasting your energy. To accuse them of carelessness is to lend them more than they deserve. Ask yourself, how did you find it so comfortable to let yourself be governed? To praise the merits of the Chinese option against the British option, of the imperial-forensic solution against the Darwinist-liberal method, is to understand nothing of either, of the horror of one as the horror of the other. Since Quesnay, the “liberals” have always regarded the Chinese Empire with envy; and they continue to do so. They are Siamese brothers. That one confines you in your interest and the other in that of “society” always comes down to crushing the only non-nihilistic conduct: taking care of oneself, those one loves and what one loves in those one doesn´t know. Do not let those who led you to the abyss pretend to know how to get out of it: they will only prepare you for a more perfected hell, an even deeper grave. The day they can, they will patrol the beyond with their armies.
 
Thank me instead. Without me, how much longer would all these unquestionable things suddenly suspended been regarded as necessary? Globalization, contests, air traffic, budgetary limits, elections, sports competitions, Disneyland, fitness rooms, most shops, the congress and parliament, school crowding, mass gatherings, most office jobs, all this drunken sociability which is only the flip side of the anguished loneliness of metropolitan dwellings: all this was therefore unnecessary, once the state of necessity manifests itself. Thank me for the test of truth for the next few weeks: you are finally going to live your own life, without the thousand loopholes that, year after year, keep the untenable going. Without realizing it, you had never moved into your own existence. You were among the boxes, and you didn’t know it. You will now live with your loved ones. You will live at home. You will stop being in transit to death. You may hate your husband. You may vomit your children. Perhaps you will want to blow up the decor of your daily life. To tell the truth, you were no longer in the world, in these metropolises of separation. Your world was no more livable in any of its points than on the condition of constantly fleeing. It was necessary to be dazed by movement and distractions so much ugliness had gained presence. And the ghostly reigned among beings. Everything had become so effective that nothing made more sense. Thank me for all of this, and welcome to earth!
 
Thanks to me, for an indefinite time, you will no longer be working, your children will not go to school, and yet it will be the complete opposite of the holidays. Holidays are that space that must be furnished at all costs while awaiting the expected return from work. But here, what opens up before you, thanks to me, is not a demarcated space, it is a huge gaping hole. I am here to disassemble everything. Nothing can guarantee you that the non-world of before will return. All of this profitable nonsense may be over. By dint of not being paid, what could be more natural than not paying your rent? Why would he still pay his debts to the bank, the one who can no longer work anyway? Isn’t it suicidal, in the end, to live where you can’t even grow a garden? Whoever has no more money will not stop eating, and the one who has the iron has the bread- as Auguste Blanqui used to say.
 
Thank me: I place you at the foot of the fork that tacitly structured your lives: the economy or life. It’s up to you. The range is historic. Either the rulers impose their state of emergency on you, or you invent your own. Either you get attached to the emerging truths or you put your head on the chopping block. Either you use the time I am giving you now to figure out the next world from the lessons of the ongoing collapse, or it will end up by radicalizing, even more. Disaster ends when the economy stops. The economy is devastating. It was a thesis before last month. It is now a fact. No one can ignore the fact that it will take police, surveillance, propaganda, logistics and telework to repress it.
 
As you face me, do not give in to panic or denial. Don’t give in to biopolitical hysteria. The coming weeks are going to be terrible, overwhelming, cruel. The doors of Death will be wide open. I am the most devastating production of the ravage of production. I come to nullify the nihilists. The injustice of this world will never be more glaring. It is a civilization, and not you, that I come to bury. Those who want to live will have to make new habits, and their own. Avoiding myself will be the occasion for this reinvention, this new art of distance. The art of greeting each other, in which some were short-sighted enough to see the very shape of the institution, will soon no longer obey any label. It will be an agreement between sentient beings. Do not do it “for others”, for “the population” or for “society”, do it for your own. Take care of your friends and your loved ones. Rethink with them, sovereignly, a just form of life. Make good life clusters, expand them, and I can’t do anything against you. This isn´t a call for the massive return of discipline, but of attention. Not for the end of all lightness, but of all neglect. What other way was left for me to remind you that salvation is in every gesture? That everything is in the infinitesimal?
 
I had to face the facts: humanity only asks itself the questions that it can no longer not ask itself. ”
 
Source: https://lundi.am/Monologue-du-virus Original French Version

Poetry, National Literature Prize 2018, Francisca Aguirre, Translated from Spanish by Amparo Arróspide & Robin Ouzman Hislop

Francisca Aguirre, Premio Nacional de las Letras 2018 El jurado la ha elegido 
“por estar su poesía (la más machadiana de la generación del medio siglo)
entre la desolación y la clarividencia, la lucidez y el dolor"

Francisca Aguirre, National Literature Prize 2018
The jury chose it "because its poetry is (the most Machadian* of the generation 
of the half century) between desolation and clairvoyance, lucidity and pain"

* In the tradition of Antonio Machado

https://elpais.com/cultura/2018/11/13

Francisca Aguirre was born in 1930 in Alicante, Spain, and fled with her family to France 
at the end of the Spanish Civil War, where they lived in political exile.  When the Germans 
invaded Paris in 1942, her family was forced to return to Spain, where her father, painter 
Lorenzo Aguirre, was subsequently murdered by Francisco Franco's regime.  
Aguirre published Ítaca (1972), currently available in English (Ithaca [2004]), when she was 
42 years old. Her work has garnered much critical success, winning the Leopoldo Panero, 
Premio Ciudad de Irún, and Premio Galliana, among other literary prizes.  
Aguirre is married to the poet Félix Grande and is the mother of poet Guadalupe Grande.



From "NANAS PARA DORMIR DESPERDICIOS"

LULLABIES TO LULL THROWN AWAYS

by FRANCISCA AGUIRRE

Translated by Amparo Arrospíde & Robin Ouzman Hislop ***

NANA DE LAS SOBRAS                                                                             A Esperanza y Manuel Rico Vaya

canción la de las sobras, eso sí
                      que era una nana para dormir el hambre.
Vaya canción aquella
                      que cantaba mi abuela con aquella voz
que era la voz de la misericordia
disfrazada de voz angelical.
                             Porque la voz de mi abuela
nos cantaba la canción de las sobras.
                             Y nosotras, que no conocíamos el pan,
cantábamos con ella que
                             las sobras de pan eran sagradas,
las sobras de pan nunca se tiran.

Siempre recordaré su hermosa voz
cantando aquella nana mientras el hambre nos dormía.
                                         **
LULLABY FOR LEFTOVERS                                                          To  Esperanza and Manuel Rico

Well, a leftovers song,
                    that truly was a lullaby to lull hunger to sleep.
Wow, that song 
                    my grandmother sang with a voice
that was the voice of mercy
disguised as the voice of an angel.
                              Because my grandmother´s voice
sang for us the leftovers song.
                              And we, who did not know bread,
sang together with her that
                              bread leftovers were holy,
bread leftovers shall never be thrown away.

I will always remember her beautiful voice
singing that lullaby while hunger lulled us to sleep.

                                                                                                       **

NANA DE LAS HOJAS CAÍDAS                                                                       
                                                                                                                       A Marián Hierro
Casi todo lo que se pierde tiene música,
                                                             una música oculta, inolvidable.
Pero las hojas, esas criaturas parlanchinas
que son la voz de nuestros árboles,
                    tienen, como la luz, el agua y las libélulas
una nana secreta y soñadora.
                    Lo que se pierde, siempre nos deja
                       un rastro misterioso y cantarín.

Las hojas verdes o doradas
              cantan su desamparo mientras juegan al corro.
Cantan mientras los árboles las llaman
como llaman las madres a sus hijos
sabiendo que es inútil, que han crecido
                     y que se han ido a recorrer el mundo.

                                                                                                      ****

LULLABY FOR FALLEN LEAVES
                                                                                                                     To Marián Hierro

Almost everything which is lost has a music,
                                                                     a hidden, unforgettable music.
But leaves, those chattering creatures
who are the voices of our trees
                       have -- like light, water and dragonflies --
a secret dreamy lullaby.
                                   That which is lost to us, always leaves
                                           the mysterious trace of its song.
Green or golden leaves
                        sing of their neglect as they dance their ring a ring of roses.
They sing while trees call to them
as mothers do calling their children
knowing it is futile, as they have grown up
                                     and left to travel the world over.
                                                                                          
                                                                                                                               **

NANA DE LAS CARTAS VIEJAS

Tienen el olor desvalido del abandono
y el tono macilento del silencio.
Son desperdicios de la memoria, residuos de dolor, 
                                                   y hay que cantarles muy bajito
para que no despierten de su letargo.
En ocasiones las manos se tropiezan con ellas
                                                  y el pulso se acelera
porque notamos que las palabras	
                                                 como si fueran mariposas
quieren bailar delante de nosotros
y volver a contarnos el secreto
                                                 que duerme entre sus páginas.
Son las abandonadas,
                                 los residuos de un tiempo de desdicha,
relatan pormenores de un combate
                                 y al rozarlas oímos el tristísimo andar
de los presos en los penales.

                                                                                                         **

LULLABY FOR OLD LETTERS

They give off the helpless smell of neglectfulness
and the emaciated tone of silence.
They are memory´s cast offs, residues of pain
                                                   and should be sung to in a low croon
so as not to awaken them from their lethargy.
Sometimes your hands chance upon them
                                                   and your pulse races
because we realize that words
                                                   wish to dance before us
as if they were butterflies
and tell us again the secret
                                                  sleeping inside their pages.
They are the neglected,
                                                  the remnants of unhappy times,
recounting the details of a struggle
                                                  and as we brush them we hear the saddest steps
of prisoners in jails.

                                                                                                          **

NANA DEL HUMO

La nana del humo tiene muchos detractores,
casi nadie quiere cantarla.
                                            Muchos dicen que el humo los ahoga,
otros piensan que eso de dormir al humo
                                            no les da buena espina,
que tiene algo de gafe.
                                   El humo no resulta de fiar:
en cuanto asoma su perfil oscuro
todo son malas conjeturas:
                                             se nos está quemando el bosque,
aquella casa debe de estar ardiendo.
El humo es un extraño desperdicio,
                                             tiene muy mala prensa.
Es un abandonado,
                                   es un incomprendido;
casi nadie recuerda que el humo es un vocero,
un triste avisador de lo que se nos avecina.
Y por eso, cuando lo escucho vocear con impotencia
yo le canto la nana del silencio
                                   para que no se sienta solo.
                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                       **

LULLABY FOR SMOKE

The lullaby for smoke doesn´t get many supporters,
almost nobody wants to sing its song.
                                               Many say smoke stifles them,
others think to lull smoke to sleep
                                               makes them queasy, 
that it´s a bit of a jinx.
                                  Smoke is not trustworthy:
as soon as it rears its dark head
it conjures up conjectures
                                                        -- a forest fire,
a house burning down.
Smoke is a weird remain,
                                             it´s got bad reports.
It´s a reject,
                                  it´s a misunderstood thing;
almost nobody remembers smoke is a herald,
a sad forwarner of what looms over us.
That´s why, when I hear it calling out helplessly,
I sing to it the lullaby for silence
                                             so that it doesn´t feel so lonely.


                                                                                                     ***
Translators:

Amparo Arrospide (Argentina) is a Spanish poet and translator. She has published 
seven poetry collections, Mosaicos bajo la hiedra, Alucinación en dos actos y algunos 
poemas, Pañuelos de usar y tirar, Presencia en el Misterio, En el Oido del Viento, 
Hormigas en Diáspora and Jaccuzzi, as well as poems, short stories and articles on 
literary and film criticism in anthologies and in both national and foreign magazines. 
She has received numerous awards. 

Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times his publications include 
All the Babble of the Souk and Cartoon Molecules collected poems and Key of Mist 
the recently published Tesserae translations from Spanish poets Guadalupe Grande 
and Carmen Crespo visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. 
See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds) and his latest 
Collected Poems Volume at  Next-Arrivals 

Poems of Death & Incense by Alisa Velaj. Translated by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj

 
WHEN DEATH PILES UP
 
They should not have piled those dry branches up here
It is midday and the crowd
Will soon pass by them
The forest ghost will terrify the Dead
With the marrow dried in his bones
Then he will convey the crowd’s death
Like an electrical conductor permits a flow of energy
They should have piled them up in the heart of the Bazaar square
But no, by no means
At midday
 
 
THE DEATH’S PAWS
 
Death has white paws
With the hare’s soft fur
And blinding whiteness
Like that of the tiger’s teeth
 
With the hare’s soft fur
We rub ourselves
On meadows
Growing narcissi flowers
But the lake in the middle of them
Never shows us
The tiger’s reflection…
 
 
INCENSE
 
I pray again after hushing or I hush right after praying
The lily of dreams has long ran away from the white colour
The whiteness of the snow, the whiteness of the petals, the whiteness of the egg
A raven black as death flies around the lily and fades away falling in the hands of the storm
 
The incense’s smell piercing through smelling…
 
 
DISTANCE
 
He is three hours away from the Swan’s Neck.
The screams of the bird have been staying frozen on those shores since the midnight of the last song.
He is three nights away from the songs and a life away from the screams.
 
 

 
 
Alisa Velaj has been shortlisted for the annual international Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in UK in June 2014. Her works have appeared in more than eighty print and online international magazines, including: FourW twentyfive Anthology (Australia), The Journal (UK), The Dallas Review (USA), The Linnet’s Wings (UK) The Seventh Quarry (UK), Envoi Magazine (UK) etc etc. Velaj’s digital chapbook “The Wind Foundations” translated by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj is published by Zany Zygote Review (USA). Her poems are also translated in Hebrew, Swedish, Romanian, French and Portuguese. Alisa Velaj’s poetry book “With No Sweat At All” (trans by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj) will be published by Cervena Barva Press in 2019.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times his publications include All the Babble of the Souk and Cartoon Molecules collected poems and Key of Mist the recently published Tesserae translations from Spanish poets Guadalupe Grande and Carmen Crespo visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds) and his latest Collected Poems Volume at Next-Arrivals

In Memoriam Joe Ruggier Canadian Poet and Poetry Publisher R.I.P

Editor’s Note: the following homage in memoriam of the life and work of the poet Joe Ruggier appears through the kind permission of Michael Burch,  editor of The HyperTexts (see below) We are grateful at Artvilla for this  permission and understand that both he & Joe Ruggier were close friends as will become apparent in the text.  Joe was also known to us  at  Poetry Life & Times  www.artvilla.com where his contributions can be accessed  via  Categories on the right hand column. We also provide here the link to https://linearbknossosmycenae.com/2018/07/21/in-memoriam-joe-ruggier-canadian-poet-and-poetry-publisher/   where his sonnets  were published in international, multilingual sonnet anthology, The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes = Le Phénix renaissant de ces cendres (251 pp.), published in 2013 by Richard Vallance Janke

 

We regretfully announce the sudden passing of Joe M. Ruggier at the age of 61 on Sunday July 8, 2018. Joe was born in Malta on July 26, 1956 and emigrated to Canada in 1981. He married Maria Julia Raminhos Lourenco in 1984, with whom he raised their daughter, Sarah Thérèse. Joe attended St. Aloysius’ College, then earned a B.A. in English with first class honours from the Royal University of Malta. He then continued his studies in Canada, earning a certificate in Writing and Publishing (SFU) and a Diploma in Typesetting (VCC). Joe wrote and published poetry in both Maltese and English, managed a small press, Multicultural Books of BC, and edited a poetry journal, The Eclectic Muse. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to publish dozens of titles, and he sold over 20,000 books, many of them door-to-door. Joe was committed to the written word, and to elevating the works of his peers and the poets he loved. In his final days he worked fervently, translating work by the Maltese priest, writer and poet, Dun Karm Psaila. Joe was passionate about his faith, his family—most especially his beloved Sarah Thérèse—international sports (soccer), languages, playing classical guitar and listening to his wide-ranging record collection.

The HyperTexts

My Memories of Joe Ruggier

by Michael R. Burch

Joe Ruggier, who published as Joe M. Ruggier, was a remarkable man, if a bit on the “unusual” side. And I met him in a very unusual way …

The year was 2002, and a poem of mine—“She Was Very Strange, and Beautiful”—had just been published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, a literary journal edited by Esther Cameron. Esther contacted me to let me know that another editor had called her in order to get in touch with me, and had actually recited my poem to her over the phone! That was my introduction to Joe Ruggier. Of course I was honored and intrigued, so I called Joe with the number Esther provided, and from that day forward Joe and I became friends. Joe published three of my poems in his literary journal, The Eclectic Muse, including the one he had recited to Esther. The others were “Redolence” and “In Defense of Meter,” which I later re-titled “In Praise of Meter.” I don’t want this page to get bogged down with my poems, but they can be read here if anyone is interested.

Soon I was in for another very nice surprise, thanks to Joe. He called to tell me that a line in my poem “Auschwitz Rose” had caused him to jump out of his bus seat! Okay, enough about my poetry. From now on, we will focus on Joe’s. But I related these accounts to demonstrate Joe’s passion and appreciation for poetry. I am truly honored that he liked one of my poems enough to recite it, and another enough to jump out of his bus seat. Before I focus on Joe’s poetry and prose, please allow me to relate some brief biological information about him.

Joseph Mary Ruggier was born in Malta on July 26, 1956 and died at his home in Richmond, BC, Canada on July 8, 2018 at age 61. He wrote and published poetry in Maltese and English. Joe also managed a small press, Multicultural Books, and was the editor of a poetry journal, The Eclectic Muse. He was a remarkable man who sold over 20,000 books, most of them door-to-door, including over 10,000 books that he wrote and published himself. There are over 6,000 copies of his book Out of Blue Nothing in print. These are amazing figures for a contemporary poet: one man willing to buck the system and not accept the common wisdom that “poetry doesn’t sell.” Joe’s family was very important to him: he especially spoke and wrote with pride and admiration of his daughter, Sarah Thérèse, and his mother, Marie.

In addition to at least ten books of poetry, Joe left a highly original and unusual book of prose called Pope Caesar’s Wake. Joe’s Wake is an eclectic “conversation” comprised of lengthy letters he wrote to Pope John Paul II and the terse form letters he received in return (included in the form of photocopies). The conversation begins with a get-well letter Joe wrote to John Paul in 1981 and concludes a quarter century later with a letter written to his successor. Because the Vatican’s responses were invariably inadequate the book’s title became progressively more severe: first Homage to Pope Woytyla, then War and Peace with Pope Woytyla, and finally Pope Caesar’s Wake. In his letters Joe accused the Roman Catholic Church of being a “humourless apparatus of spiritual authority and heartless sin theology” that reduced him to a “nervous, suicidal, pathological wreck” and a “poor, neurotic demon.” He also complained that all his Catholic parents “could ever discuss” with him were “the Pope” and “mortal sin.” Joe’s innovative solution was to find a cure through the “healing power of genuine laughter.” Thus, Joe chose to “make the papacy a work of art” with his tongue planted firmly in cheek. In one letter Joe repeatedly exclaimed “Vendetta!” as he enumerated the Pope’s and Church’s sins against him. In another he compared the Pope and his cohorts to “the Argentineans in the days when they still used to break legs unscrupulously as long as they could carry away a soccer trophy.”

In my favorite letter, Joe told Pope Caesar: “If you are sincere, Your Holiness, take a leave of absence quietly from the Vatican for a few days, where You are surrounded by all the beautiful nudes of MichaelAngelo, come and visit a great Artist Yourself in his poor and lonely hermitage, bring a half a million United States dollars in an attaché case with You, bring a beautiful blonde from Heaven with You, and make sure I see no one else beside You … All I can offer You, unfortunately, is a cup of Earl Grey tea, or a little coffee. And I hope to give You back My baptismal certificate also because I do not need it.” By capitalizing “My” and “You,” Joe put himself on equal footing with the Pope. But alas, all he received in return for his passionate, artistic missives were the Vatican’s pedestrian form letters!

This is one of my favorite poems by Joe Ruggier, and a fine poem indeed:

Part 6 from The Dark Side of the Deity: Interlude

When Satan hurled, before the Dawn,
defiance at the Lord of History;
and Michael stood, and Glory shone,
Whose hand controlled the timeless Mystery?
Who but the Insult was the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

When Athens, sung in verse and prose,
caught all the World’s imagination;
when Ilion fell, and Rome arose,
and Time went on like pagination:
Who but the Insult was the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

When books, in numberless infinities,
cross-fertilize the teeming brain,
and warring, vex the Soul with Vanities,
and Insults hurtle, Insults rain:
Who but the Insult is the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

And when we too shall cease to be,
like all the Kingdoms of the Past,
and groaning, gasping, wrenching free,
we bite, at last, alone, the dust:
Who but the Insult is the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

When church-bells fill the wandering fields
with Love and Fear,
the Flesh and Blood of Jesus yields
deliverance dear,
to them who believe in the Compliment Sinsear.

This is a very tender devotional poem …

A Proof of Love

NOW WHEN I was fresh and easy, I would go
to Church … devotion fill’d my soul with tears.
I guessed not all Gospels could so tiresome grow—
the same words repeated for twice a thousand years.
But middle-aged I have become aware
of all the paranoia, boredom, pain,
where with lame hands I grope … of empty air
and dust, and chances lost, and littlest gain.
Yet here I am, my God, where I relax
in warmth of heaters, and Thy glowing smile,
where words, repeated, securer are than cheques,
the Love which then I felt, now lost awhile.
Thus We gave God, Whose Love does not change the story,
a proof of Loveseal of eternal glory!

From Songs of Gentlest Reflection, copyright © Joe M. Ruggier, 2003, 2004

I have never been a fan of the Christian dogma of hell, or of the Christian religion for that matter, but at least Joe puts an original twist on the subject …

Old Dante’s Damning Powers

Many people, in particular modern Catholics, are scandalized by Dante, particularly by his Inferno, wherein Dante positioned real, historical figures among others which are mythological. I once told the Catholics … “Church teaching about Hell is dogmatic theology whatever you say. Why does Dante make you such a terrible insult with Hell? Because he hates you? Or because he wishes you better? The critics, the poetry lovers, the professors understand Dante correctly, and so do the artists … the artists, in particular, are right to love Dante so deeply because they know that his honour is a sincere honour to them and they understand him most correctly in that they understand that his intentions are to save them!” The poem below is where my further reflections led me Joe Ruggier

Old Dante’s damning powers are as God wants—
he snubs with Hell only where he wishes better.
If people do not like them, people should
control their own —damning powers being,
most likely, the only supernatural power
most people have. Dante’s Inferno speaks
to their condition: they read it and reread it;
and in regards to Hell, Church teaching is
dogmatic. If, however, it does not speak
to your condition, you may read Purgatory,
the most human, the most touching, among
great Poems, where, suffer what you may, the edges
are all solace, the consolation of all the faithful
who are not perfect … to whom the Lord may say:
“I’m going to torture you upon the violin!”
and we learn Love, and Holy Spirit, and enter
Heaven musicians like Yehudi Menuhin:
a school for all — Purgatory the blest!

I have been known to observe that there are precious few poems of note written by poets about their mothers. Once again, Joe is the exception to the general rule …

Saint Mary Christian

Elegy for my mother, Marie Ruggier
7th February 1925—29th April 2008

Saint Mary Christian made her family one prophecy only:
“You will seek me and will not find me!”

I was hungry. My Mother gave me to eat.
I was thirsty. My Mother gave me to drink.
I was naked. My Mother clothed me.
I was bedridden. Mother watched and prayed beside me.

All in all a simple soul, Mother was
most capable, and most clever at what she did well.
She was everywhere, she did everything:
the heartbeat of our family. Every day
she cooked three meals from scratch, proof of her love,
for father and all seven of us: her cooking was,
in its own right, a unique, genuine cuisine—
the proudest thing in her devoted life.
She did the laundry, washed dishes, knitted wool,
(and scarves with the colors of our favorite soccer club),
sewed our clothes, helped us all, with father, with our schoolwork,
and often read my writings. We took her quite for granted, but
we loved her all—except when she yelled, and then
we would all hate her for what she elegantly described
as “behooving sin”!
Her frugality was a work
of exquisite art: nothing was wasted,
all scraps of food consumed, and the leftovers
went to the birds … With father, she economized
fractions of cents, supporting all seven of us
on pennies—not a lifestyle
that I could ever grow accustomed to;
but excellent preparation for publishing poetry …

Feminists will look askance at her lifestyle, arguing that
the quality of her life could have been better: one ignores
a movement such as Feminism at one’s own peril;
but Mum and Dad would say that Love
is the only quality of life there is; and Salvation
the only sincere honour!
Though she cared for the Arts,
Mother did not know better: to adjust her vision
to feminist viewpoints called for a contradiction
to everything she knew, everything she learnt,
and was conditioned to be, since early childhood,
by her own parents and upbringing;
a major readjustment which could have
positively unhinged her and unsettled her.
Mum and Dad
were happy, a Man and a Woman, permanently in love,
always getting along: their Marriage was a sacred Memory
of a traditional Past; with no guarantee
that modern marriages are happier!

The Mother who, with untold self-denial,
bore us, bred us, fed us, clothed us, educated us,
and every day said prayers with us … is in her grave:
but her spirit of prayer knew no bottom,
Mass and her Rosary being her favorite charms—
her frugal way of maximizing fractions of idle Time!
Laying up treasure for herself in Heaven,
she lives on in the fragrance of her prayers!

May the Divine Will be fulfilled
in her Life and in her passing!
May the Saints she loved immerse her
in the abyss of God’s Mercy;
invoking upon her holy Soul
the abundant blessings of Divine Mercy!
And may Saint Mary Christian
still pray for all of us below …

Copyright © Joe M. Ruggier 2008

I like the warmth and tolerant spirit of this tribute Joe wrote to Rumi and Islam …

To Rumi

I was impressed by praise your editor penned
for you: “this ocean of sublime jazz
perhaps with no parallel in world literature!”

Islam and its culture remind me of just that,
sublime jazz! As I read on
I could hear it in the atmosphere:
making me think of sex, at the same time
making me think of God, lifting up my mind
to higher things!
That is precisely
what jazz ought to be like, I thought,
and I cheered you, old Rumi, who, centuries ago,
in the middle ages, understood so well
something so primitive, and yet so modern!

That is just what I am missing when I listen
to jazz music, the sublime jazz of Islam!

Copyright © Joe M. Ruggier 2008

This poem reminds me a bit of William Blake and his Everlasting Gospel …

All Love is Sacred

In the jumble and din of modern cities,
immense shopping centres cast in iron cages
and technological jungles, where the constant,
nuclear boom of cars, and planes, and radios
deafens and deadens the sense, by day or night,
bringing the eyes to the constant verge of tears
caused by filth, smog, far too much light and colour,
and noise-pollution, with a cruel, sadistic
wrenching upon the very nerve itself
of sensitive feeling … ancient Love remains,
perennial as the grass, a holy corner
which the Heart calls Home, where a man takes refuge
with prayers inside his Heart: Eros, Agape,
Thanatos, good Love and bad, or the four Loves
all Love is sacred … !

Joe apparently had an unusual Muse …

My Daemon

My daemon follows me. I was a child:
his daemon eyes devoured me ever since!
He loves to rule me proudly, goad me wild;
his maddening eyes they rile me, and I wince!
No matter what I do, he is disdain
and negative thought, dogma if I discuss;
ungracious pastor to poetic pain;
dark inhibition in my jail; and boss!
Though he returns but acid, I must say
long years returned me such a yield of art,
and I have earnt such learning through dismay,
that I grow fond; I love to touch his heart!
To our hostilities I see no end;
I tremble! Can I be blam’d to call him friend?

 

Four Poems from Out of Blue Nothing, a sequence of Twenty-Four Sonnets

1.
AS I stand surveying all that ground I lost,
all that I loved, and love gone out and cross,
love’s labour like some burning wreckage tost,
my spirit breathes: “this was eternal loss!”
Had I but known, fair creature of an hour,
sweet love that sank in the bright hills like rain,
had I been subtle to the eleventh power,
I would not drown, and never cry again!
Suppose that all Life Death does end; assume
the worst!  Hence the necessity of humour!
Clean jokes are altars blossoming; and the bloom
“another Life”.  How this one makes me swear!
But books in the raw element immerse,
since love and ready wit suffice for verse.

2.
BOOKS! Voices of Sirens singing, carrying
from undiscovered countries and slow time!
Grand monuments! and Beasts of Troy, ferrying
fast ones; whole hordes of demons clad in rhyme!
New starts and old revisions; worlds unknown,
and all the old eternity on paper!
Merry-go-rounds where all the winds of renown
lead some poor devils round around a caper!
I know them all, how changing, and well I know
brain-spinning disturbs the Peace … torrential rain!
Into which sense shall I dissolve and go?
Lie where? Would I have done it so again?
Good men are great philosophers; the heart
Is their Ink-pot; sound sense is all their art.

3.
STILL young and green to the school of hard knocks,
flushed senses flaming from the dream you sought,
to drown was sweet when Song seemed like the rocks
beneath, and Books were timeless depths of thought.
Fresh sprung the verse which could not obey your call,
and molded lumber seemed all tomes instead!
Oh well! for the lad and his lass and the team round a ball!
but ah! for the pillar of Fire in your head!
Knocked between books and wild, springing nature,
knocked between Church and this, your wild, first love,
knocked between love and song and wan misfeature,
knocked between dreams and fact, bright stars above,
would you have tumbled had you known? Who knew?
You wrote yourself this Requiem.  How true?

4.
THE CHAPEL folded up among the trees
stood open.  Winds rushed like children round the steeple.
The metal windmills creaked. Transported Peace
sighed on the leaves, drawn out from a unified people.
Brains are the whirlpools, whirlwinds were the hymns;
the voice of the nameless, pride and soul of the millions!
We clip high dreams.  Their true illusion dims,
and dips like a headlight.  But stars in their billions
still heave like a wave of the sea and over the hills;
and far away is long ago! The dusk
subdues the nuclear tone, which all but chills
Man’s withering dreams but for the priest-like task!
Set down out of blue nothing rhymes unheard!
Redeem the time!—but sexless, Man’s absurd!

Joe M. Ruggier expanded biography and obituary: It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Joseph Mary Ruggier at the age of 61, at his home in Richmond, BC, on Sunday July 8, 2018. Joe was born in Malta on July 26, 1956 and emigrated to Canada in 1981. He married Maria Julia Raminhos Lourenco in 1984, with whom he raised their daughter, Sarah Thérèse. He attended St. Aloysius’ College followed by a B.A. (1st class Honours) in English from the Royal University of Malta and continued his studies in Canada earning a certificate in Writing and Publishing (SFU) and a Diploma in Typesetting (VCC), which he credits for becoming an established publisher. Joe wrote and published poetry in both Maltese and English, managing a small press, Multicultural Books of BC, and editing the poetry journal, The Eclectic Muse. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to publish dozens of titles, selling over 20,000 books. Joe was committed to the written word, elevating the works of his peers and poets he loved. In his final days, he worked fervently, translating work by the Maltese priest, writer and poet, Dun Karm Psaila. Joe was passionate about his faith, family — most especially his beloved Sarah Thérèse — international sports (soccer), languages, playing classical guitar and listening to his wide-ranging record collection.  Joe was predeceased by his beloved mother Maria Ruggier (née Micallef). He leaves to mourn his loss his family, Sarah Thérèse and Maria Julia, his father Alfred, his six siblings Paul, Fred, Louis, Mario, Anna, Marisa, and extended family residing in Canada, the USA, Malta, Ireland, and Kenya. Prayers will be offered on July 18, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Paul Church, 8251 St. Albans Rd., Richmond, B.C. where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on July 19, 2018 at St. Paul Church at 10:00 a.m. Interment to follow at Gardens of Gethsemani for 1:30 p.m. Condolences for the family may be left at www.kearneyfs.com . Visit Joe’s website at www.mbooksofbc.com