To conclude our collaborative series with Palabras Errantes, the Indy profiles the celebrated poet and cultural commentator, Reynaldo Jiménez.
Jiménez was born in Peru in 1959 but has lived in Buenos Aires since 1963. A prolific writer, he has 19 of his own books published, the majority of which are collections of poetry. His work has been included in numerous poetry books and he has been involved in compiling dozens of anthologies. He is deeply involved in the Buenos Aires cultural scene.
He participates in events and festivals across Latin America. He has embraced new media and technology, with a regularly updated blog, facebook page, and youtube channel (oroqolla2) with news, work and interviews from his literary world.
Do you consider yourself an Argentine poet?
I was born in Peru but I don’t consider myself a poet from any place in particular. Before finding out about ‘neologism’ – called such by Deleuze then repeated by many after him – I felt it in my own flesh: deterritorialised. The roots are there however, I can feel them, they move.
How would you describe your poetic style?
I believe that precision in poetry sometimes needs indirect paths. When a summary tries to explain poetic ideas, it lays them out as something confirmative and self-publicising not as part of the poetic experience which tends to come from the unknown. The concept of a ‘style’ to me seems to restrict the adventure, it’s better to let yourself go with the words and see what happens. They can certainly surprise us. Each type of text asks questions of the form it is written in. I write in search of the impersonal, the latent and the unknown. If I had to appeal to an adjective, I would use: protean.
Are there subjects which come up frequently in your work?
I don’t deal with subjects. I try to distance myself as far as possible from the school of thought “composition, subject: the cow”, by which I mean I distance myself from the scholarly. I don’t believe in working within the strict boundaries of definitions like realists do. I look for the experiential word; the word which creates itself, that doesn’t rely upon previous realities. Language and reality like an astonished meeting, not in a pre-existing conformity.
How do you feel about poetry translation?
I also translate poems (from Portuguese) – each writer poses his own particular challenges. In the case of transposing my writing to a language which isn’t Spanish, like in English at the moment, it strikes me as very difficult because I work so much with etymological roots; in reality it is something instinctive but it always refers to a particular language. The determined reading planes I lay out in the poems get lost, so in that case, the ideal [for the translation] is a poet who is able to create a sound-associated texture in the second language.
reverse (from sangrado)
Written by Reynaldo Jiménez. Translated by Geoffrey Maguire.
Con los campos en movimiento creamos en el corazón de la materia
Miguel Ángel Bustos
WILL THIS WATERMARK BE THE LOUD
ness that bewilders? on the page-soul
swift palms scatter, releasing fertile lions,
their breath lethal, just to remain on the
savannah: there, further, it cannot be found…
like disturbing low hunger in its lair
among layers that shade does not sharpen
but into the air, bliss surmounts bareback
& like the palm surrenders: drifted delta
between alluvial eyelids spouts, hushes.
will patina be the grace, quartz that hurls
resemblances by hungers-light
for mother Uma, lifted in arms
within the spy space just as water lilies
orbit the mud?
will this eating and fasting be the sphere, spirals
& sweat of each gram-age waiting
just to rage froth that the thorn kept?
separated petals radiate multiparous
wakefulness, & in the respite i restore.
*eating and fasting: Miguel Ángel Bustos
WITHIN HIS FEMALE HE THREADS
—the day burns from gem to yolk
with no command— then the cold
tongue is caught, transbeats
a star the lapse-pool of breath,
the twisting letters consume
more pages, around the time
that slows her passionflower fall.
watching everything does not seep.
does not make hunger nor appease
knowing, or almost an elk in turmoil:
keys brush in the forest, there in the forest
is no respite nor even a spire seems to grow,
unison between altars, brambles, the rose
whose spinal tropism the breath of minute
the shores of sleep pollinates. & shows
the gloomy firefly of hunger &
a flower is conceived in the head,
into the air it turns its petals,
emulsion where sighs find rest,
being every shield it shows lucidity.
arouses the scents of space,
or rather this not-usual instant:
it mistakes voices & sprinkles
its abyssal brush, from well-
polished stone —did you hear,
behind the hidden door,
a single dandelion?— or
awake & with no more steps.
i can see, asleep, how
the shy blossom shows.
AS IF OUTSIDE TO BE LIGHTER
neither night nor dawn, behind
a curtain of birds the brief
phrase from Pan’s flute, while
passing, over there, memory
of what is not yet here.
made to the grace of sound,
jumble of swallowed verbs, the ear
whose reflection allows an orator:
nothing comes through now, woods
creak, no one leaves again.
in its weight the logical inversion,
the ear uproots sculptures
but as a river, denied by other
fiery voices, in its old inebriation,
asleep knowing, to be awake,
unsure to stay up.
impassive reflection, by remote
memento, the golden sound: the ash
tree like the light in which it bathes,
thirst turns us.
the wave of this phrase is veiled,
kiskadee in day’s womb, body
occupied by no one.