5poems

 

It’s World Poetry Day today and less than a week ago I decided to make yet another stressful appearance in the inboxes of my fellow illustrators. In a sugar rush, I asked 5 friends if they were interested in making some super quick drawings inspired by… poems. Short poems. Short poems I’ve chosen for them. They said yes.

Here’s what’s gotten into me: until two or three years ago I had rejected poetry just like I’d shoo Jehovah’s Witnesses away. Or maybe worse. And all thanks to those dark memories from my school years, memories made of mandatory memorization terror (both of the poems, and the critics’ view on them), of lame lyrics I could never relate to and oh, man, the excruciating overdose of indecipherable archaisms.

Recently though, I gave poetry a second chance (thanks, Tara, for showing me the way to truly love it).

***

Back to the game: I decided to choose 5 poems every month (there is a list, and it’s growing bigger and bigger) and share them with the world. A world that might just come to love them as much as I do. And with a little help from my friends, there will also be yummy custom-made illustrations.
Around each month’s end, the poems and their fresh illustrations will be revealed on a dedicated Instagram account – @5poems (yes, please, do follow us). All goodies will also be printed and exhibited in our pocket bookshop+gallery (Receptor / Cărturești & Friends). When it’s time for another round, the previous small prints will settle into the family album – a permanent collection gathering all illustrations and poems featured monthly.

Here are this month’s chosen ones:



AESTHETICS OF BEING A BIRD
by Kenneth Koch

Eat brusquely
With a half-closed mouth;
When another speaks, glance up
But don’t respond.
After you have eaten
Take off
And sing
Portuguese songs — a fado, if you please!

(Published in The Paris Review, Issue 120, Fall 1991)

Illustration by Iulia Ignat
iuliaignatillustrator.com
facebook.com/iuliaignatillustrator

 



CLOUD STUDY
by Andrea Cohen

How do clouds
learn to be clouds?

They study what
Constable—seeing them—

saw: awe for sure,
but also a falling

away from any sense
of earthly surface. Zero

horizon. “Skying,” he called
his hundred sketches. Think

of the Great Wallendas stretching
netless above gorges: a cloud

learns not to look down.

(Published in The New Yorker, April 2016)

Illustration by Irina Georgescu
behance.net/irinageorgescu 
facebook.com/irinageorgescuillustration

 



SLEEPING

by Raymond Carver

He slept on his hands.
On a rock.
On his feet.
On someone else’s feet.
He slept on buses, trains, in airplanes.
Slept on duty.
Slept beside the road.
Slept on a sack of apples.
He slept in a pay toilet.
In a hayloft.
In the Super Dome.
Slept in a Jaguar, and in the back of a pickup.
Slept in theaters.
In jail.
On boats.
He slept in line shacks and, once, in a castle.
Slept in the rain.
In blistering sun.
On horseback he slept.
He slept in chairs, churches, in fancy hotels.
He slept under strange roofs all his life.
Now he sleeps under the earth.
Sleeps on and on.
Like an old king.

(Published in Ultramarine, in 1986)

Illustration by Irina Perju
behance.net/irinaperju
facebook.com/irina.perju.illustration 
instagram.com/irina.perju



JANUARY

by Charles Simic

Children’s fingerprints
On a frozen window
Of a small schoolhouse.

An empire, I read somewhere,
Maintains itself through
The cruelty of its prisons.

(Published in The Paris Review, Spring 2015)


Illustration by Amina Burloiu
instagram.com/amina.burloiu
facebook.com/minabua



THE TIGER
by Nael, age 6

The tiger
He destroyed his cage
Yes
YES
The tiger is out

(Published in “You Will Be Able to Say a Thousand Words”)

Illustration by Mura
instagram.com/madebymura
facebook.com/madebymura

 


I am most grateful to the girls for jumping in so fast (they only had 2-3 days to squeeze the task in their schedules and send me the illustrations) and I’d be really happy around my belly button if you showed off your love by following their work and sharing this piece with a friend, who knows, maybe you’ll get one of the art prints exhibited at the bookshop (they’ll be up there ready to be catcalled starting tomorrow).

 

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Nu e numai despre poezii, dar ar putea fi

 

Am văzut-o prima dată pe Tara în una din rarele prea-dimineți din 2016le meu. Stăteam pe scaunul de la Elvira Popescu și, în timp ce-o ascultam și nu reușeam să-mi notez în capul adormit toate chestiile mișto cu care ne împușca, îmi mușcam buza de jos repetându-mi: de ce n-am avut și eu noroc să am un profesor așa la facultate. De ce de ce de ce. N-am întâlnit nici măcar unul în 5 ani de facultate care să iasă din tiparele plicticos / malefic / superficial / sictirit / răzbunător / indiferent.

Poate proful de meteorologie de la seminar să fi avut vreo șansă, dar nu era suficientă poezie în paginile lui despre nori și fronturi atmosferice. Then again, ce-am căutat eu la acea facultate? Nu știu, că n-am găsit.

Revin la Tara. CE BINE că există o înregistrare, sunt foarte fericită-n cap că pot să ascult din nou ce-a povestit atunci. Poate toată lumea:

Transcriu puțin din intro-ul ei, să rămână și scris, nu doar vorbit:

“Talking about language (…) is interesting because I’m about to describe something that describes something that can’t be described. And talking about the language of poetry is even trickier because poetry uses language to describe something that can’t possibly be said in words.”

 

“I think poetry has a logic of memory, I think it’s also like dreams and I think it’s a lot like calculus.”

 

“I think everyone likes poetry. Poetry is just a form of storytelling.”

Recunosc: până pe la 25 de ani, poezie însemna pentru mine fie o prețioșenie îmbrăcată-n rime boring, de recitat cu intonație la o serbare de sfârșit de trimestru-semestru-an (serbare? pff, ce iz de naftalină metafizică s-a împrăștiat pe-aici), fie chinul de-a învăța pe de rost ideile regurgitate de prin cărțile de comentarii, fie o asociere automată cu o jenă fizică față de profunzimi și sensibilități lame (aici e posibil să fi avut o contribuție semnificativă băiatul de care nu-mi plăcea în clasa a 7-a: tot insista să-mi strecoare în buzunarul lateral de la ghiozdan poezii copiate caligrafic pe pagini rupte de la mijlocul caietelor de matematică ― acum mi se pare aww, atunci era eww).

În fine, înapoi în zilele noastre, am lăsat-o mai moale cu hatereala când am dat peste câteva exemplare care mi-au pus la colț pfff-urile și eww-urile: pentru că da, despre asta era vorba ― “Poetry is just a form of storytelling”.

Și m-am bucurat cu țopăieli când am reușit să prind un loc la cursul de scris pe care l-a ținut Tara la sfârșitul lui august în redacția DoR. Curs la care, deși nu-s vreo spontană (doar car de-o viață l’esprit de l’escalier pe umeri), am reușit s-alerg câteva maratoane de idei și cuvinte, non-stop, timp de vreo 4-5 ore pe zi, fără să-mi dau duhul.

Câteva notițe:

“You can’t pass by something written in your language and not read it. Your brain reads it before you decide not to. You cannot forget reading.”

 

“Writing begins with taking in information. We are writing in our heads all the time.”

 

“I always write by hand. A new draft in Word is like a white frame, it looks too much like a finished product. Writing on paper just feels like taking notes. I don’t force myself into finishing it. It’s like playing around, it’s like a puzzle.”

 

“We recognize ourselves in the pictures where we’re babies, even if we don’t actually remember ourselves looking like that. But we believe we’re in them because we’re told so.”

 

“Open endings are good. Detailed doesn’t necessarily mean more words.”

 

“You can’t be objective, but you can look at language.”

 

“Translating is like baking. If you give the same piece to 5 different people, you’ll get 5 different results.”

E minunată Tara, nu scrie niciodată cu albastru și ascultă doar muzică fără cuvinte când are foaia în față (mai exact: Christopher Tignor – Meeting in a colored shadow), îi place mult Elizabeth Bishop, scrie des pe Twitter și prin ea am descoperit-o pe Andrea Cohen, las aici o poezie la care revin cel puțin o dată pe lună.

The Commitee weighs in

Și-ncă una (Silence), și-ncă una (Cloud Study).

 

Din fericire, o să mai țină chiar în weekendul 10-11 septembrie un curs de Writing from Memory la DoR (nu știu dacă mai sunt locuri, dar încercați) și tot ea o să fie unul dintre speakerii a-ma-zing de la Power of Storytelling, în octombrie (cea mai frumoasă conferință la care am fost vreodată).

 

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