Meanwhile, in Another Place
The Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli had three tables–one for each of the three languages between which he translated: Italian, Greek, and Latin. Translation took place in the interstices. Translation is vital. Come! We’re crossing over. Between the tables lies the most important thing. Between the tables, other languages grow. That is where you find the only worthwhile thing you can report on at home. At home? My desk! Every word a table. Excuse me. I’m all messed up: the desk is my head. I’ll tidy up in my head. Every surface is a potential table. Excuse me: a potential word. Operating table or altar? Card table in the control tower, life or death, here the battle has to be fought.
Askew in the skew, there is the laptop: a platform, a pulse. Where do I start? I tidy up. I lay the cards on the table. I move jerkily. Desk seismograph. Books push their way upward through the geological strata of the desk. I know what to do: write every day. Read every day. Hang in there. Read difficult books. Write good poems. It’s as simple as that. This morning, time feels a little more real. I wash down an aspirin with cold coffee. The house across the way washes over me. The desk grows upwards around me like shrubbery, and I sense my own musty odor. My desk is a mess. On it, are notes for poems, cups, wine glasses, books, scissors, headphones. Entrance ticket. Felt-tip pen. Toothbrush. Cell phone. Money, wallet, pencil. Where do I begin? Writing is tidying up. The ray of doubt encounters wonderful things.
In the Museum of Copenhagen, there is a Søren Kierkegaard exhibition. I lean against his desk, I catch myself doing it. Here, he moved between his pseudonyms, he wrote between the desks, he went from book to book. Each table was a new name and a new book. In the desks, there were secret drawers, places for papers, that shunned the light, letters, notes, dire and inaccessible. Søren Kierkegaard wore the engagement ring up to his death: “Since I have never known the date regarding the breaking off of my engagement, I made an attempt to calculate it. This attempt is on a slip in the older packet in gray paper, which lies in the small drawer in my desk, and on this packet it says: Destroy after my death.” There are traces of wear, traces of Regine, in the green felt of the desk.
We’re getting there. Not any place. Any place. In what state of any place? The place is a room, not under us, but above us. I see everything clearly and outside of myself, outside of the place. Unable, outside of the place until the place returns with its presence. The place is a warping, a wonder. As if one were to take an advance from another place. Another place, where something else happens. In place of. The place as an intermediary. As a rendezvous for many places. The place in place of the place. As long as it takes. The place is a bright spot between other places.
English translation: Sharmila Cohen
Certainly many of you had some exciting days during the Football World Cup in South Africa. We’ve had a good time here in Berlin at the lyrikline.org headquarter (at least until the semi finals) with nearly all colleagues in our institution (Literaturwerkstatt Berlin) swept by football fever. In the end, the lyrikline.org office was defeated in the in-house betting pool by the open mike department in a very close race.
The headline of this article is quoted from a nice poem found on lyrikline which seems to have been made for Paul, the octopus oracle that was so (tragically) right this year. Here is the octopus poem by Joanne Burns from Australia.
Thanks to everyone for following our poetic match series on Twitter and Facebook, that presented two poems from the competing countries every day (except for a short holiday break). For the archives, here is the complete list of the poetic encounters:
Finally, congratulations to Spain!