Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ABOUT FRANCISCO SANTOS AND BRIAN CAMPBELL

About Francisco Santos (http://undressingthenight.blogspot.com/) and His Translator Brian Campbell( http://briancampbell.blogspot.com/)


I had a copy of Nicaraguan-Canadian poet Francisco Santos’s Undressing the Night near the headboard some weeks ago. It then fell behind, and out of view, owing to the general torrential nature of the river of books that ends up by the pillow waiting to be drunk before sleep. His translator Brian Campbell sent me the poems via email so I would not have to retype them here.

The book satisfies like a clear morning. There is no pretense in the poetry. Santos writes directly from experience and hides his agency in bringing beauty to the reader. There is no dismantling of language so that readers can meditate on broken phrases and dollops of white space. Neither does Santos attempt to dazzle readers with rhetorical catwalks or peacock displays. He shoots straight and is lucky to have a translator who has worked hard to deliver the same transparency in English.

I present five poems here from Undressing The Night: Selected Poems of Francisco Santos (Editorial Luna, San Jose, Costa Rica, 2005)





SOY RICO

Soy rico
camino por las calles
dejando crecer mis poemas
mis cabellos
mi barba
que casi no me crece
Mis zapatos están gastados
mis ropas luyidas, nistas
y sin embargo
soy alegre
soy rico
Llevo conmigo las flores
mis bolsas están llenas
de poemas.



I'M RICH

I'm rich!
I swagger down the streets
allowing my poems to grow --
and my hair
and my beard
(which is almost non-existent)
My shoes are worn down, they're done for
my clothes rag-tag, in tatters
yet
I feel joy
I'm rich
Within me, I bring flowers
My pockets are bursting
with poems




CHICHIGALPA

Allá en Chichigalpa
yo vivía en una casa-hospedaje
que también era cantina
gimnasio de boxeo
y gallera
Enfrente quedaba la estación y los trenes
el gentío
y los adioses
eran mi mayor attracción
La carretera la estaban construyendo
y pasaban los vehículos del Depto. de Carretaras
en medio de grandes polvasales
Los sábados por la tarde se miraba la fila de
caballos bien aperados
y se llenaba la cantina
hasta bien noche
El Domingo amanecían algunos hombres dormidos
que se levantaban mientras sacaban la basura
y yo salía a chuparme las narajas que traía
Doña Juana
como a las diez comenzaba el boxeo
y a les tres el juego de gallos.
Yo tenía como ocho años.



CHICHIGALPA

There in Chichigalpa
I lived in a boarding house
that was also a saloon
boxing gym
and gamecock coop
In front was the station and the trains
the throngs
of goodbyes
were the major attraction
They were just constructing the freeway
and vehicles went by, churning great clouds,
from the Highway Department
On Saturdays, in the afternoon, a line of well turned-out horses
and the saloon filled up
’til well into the night
Sunday, sleeping men stirred, slowly raised themselves
as the garbage was tossed out
and I went out to suck on oranges
Doña Juana always gave me
as at ten the boxing match started
at three, the cockfights
and I was about eight


R.I.P. LEONEL RUGAMA

Una tarde Leonel me recomendó
-- para la flacura -- hacer ejercicios
aclarándome que no se trataba de
"ejercicios espirituales.”
Hablamos acerca de las muchachas
que iban o venían del trabajo o del colegio
de las que entraban o salían de una tienda
de zapatos
de otra que pasaba vendiendo chancho
también me leyó un poema sobre una guerrillera
Vietnamita.
Ahora -- otra tarde que veo su cuerpo acribillado
por la G.N. en la foto de un diario
recuerdo que José Coronel Urtecho
una vez me dijo: "Los poetas no sirven para nada."






R.I.P. LEONEL RUGAMA

One afternoon Leonel recommended
-- to improve my vitality, strength -- that I exercise
going on to say that by this he did not mean
"spiritual exercises."
We talked also about the girls
who passed on their way from work or school
about others that went into and came out of a certain
shoe store
about another on the corner selling fried pork
then he read me a poem about a young girl
who had died in Vietnam.
Today, another afternoon,
I see on the front page of a daily
the photo of his body riddled by the G.N.
and recall how José Coronel Urtecho
once said to me,
"Poets? They're good for nothing."




CARCEL

Encerró el silencio
buscó en su bolso
un cepillo y en espejo

Dio un beso al tiempo
y murmuró al viento.






PRISON

He enclosed the silence
searched through its pockets
for a toothbrush and a mirror

gave a kiss to time
and murmured to the wind






FIESTA

El vaso fuera de la fiesta
los libros en el oído
lo cotidiano en la sangre
El loco con el puño sucio
sale de la mina mostrando
la flor.






FIESTA

The glass beyond the fiesta
the books within the eardrum
the quotidian in the blood --
and the madman with his dirty fist
comes out of the mineshaft
waving a flower.