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Month: February 2013

Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva

Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva

Yes, it’s even better than The Passion. Why? Because the aphorisms here do not push for a certain resolution. They are what they are. More at

Agua Viva, by Clarice Lispector. 1973. Translation 2012
Agua Viva, by Clarice Lispector. 1973. Translation 2012

ease with themselves. They are it, as she says repeatedly. It being something so essential, so real, so basic, that it defies naming beyond it. It just is.

The work is short. Too short. Just 88 pages. Edited posthumously by Olga Borelli and newly translated by Stefan Tobler. But it can and should be read over and over again. It’s thick with bright language gems and shockingly obvious surprises. As in, I read her, noted with wonder her startlingly original conceptions, but then said, yeah. Of course. That makes sense in a surreal way. One Brazilian singer, the late Cazuza, was said to have read Agua Viva 111 times. I understand why.

A novel as meditation. Surreal meditation on life, on the instant, … Click to continue . . .

The Passion According to G.H.

The Passion According to G.H.

The Passion According to G.H. By Clarice Lispector. 1964. New translation by Ida Novey
The Passion According to G.H. By Clarice Lispector. 1964. New translation by Ida Novey

Writing without plot. Writing about writing. Each word, each sentence, each paragraph like an explosive compulsion. An aphorism of despair and delight. Clarice Lispector wrote as if her life depended upon it. As if she couldn’t help herself. And though her chaos was contained and expressed through words, the result was not chaos. It was poetry.

Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) was born Jewish in what is now the Ukraine. To escape from the frequent pogroms there, her family fled to resettle in Brazil, via Romania, when Clarice was not yet two. She wrote in Portuguese, considered herself Brazilian through and through, and is considered by some to be among the greatest writers of the 20th century in that language. If the English translation of The Passion According to G.H. is any indication, I can understand such high praise. It is unlike anything I’ve ever read and … Click to continue . . .

Sky Mixing

Sky Mixing

For February, Spinozablue brings its readers new poetry from Breda Wall Ryan, Damien Healy and Donal Mahoney, as well as fiction from Rosemary Jones. A pattern of Celtic voices by coincidence, not design — with an Asian twist.

  
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Gassed, by John Singer Sargent. 1918
Gassed, by John Singer Sargent. 1918

 Recently finished Peter Englund’s excellent history of WWI, The Beauty and the Sorrow. What makes this book so special for me is the democracy of voices, the voices on the ground and in the skies, the deeply personal quality of their journals and letters. Englund brings us a mix of soldiers, nurses, activists, journalists and pilots, and tells their stories using their own words and circumstances. We get a vision of the war that officials of that day tried to suppress, as propaganda was thick on all sides and truth suffers, as always, in war. Its first casualty.
 
Seeing the whole, looking back on the years 1914-1918, it’s all but impossible … Click to continue . . .

Damien Healy: The Last Day of Winter

Damien Healy: The Last Day of Winter

The Last Day of Winter

 

The icy wind rushes around and bites exposed skin.
Tomorrow will be spring but it still feels like the middle of winter.
Throw soy beans in every corner to exercise evil demons.
Command them to leave at the entrance and welcome in good fortune.
Consume your age in hardened soy beans plus one ensuring another year of life.
A mouthful of rolled sushi for dinner.
Quietly facing the lucky direction, all chew in unison.
Smelly grilled sardines keep wandering demons at bay.
An absolute nightmare for cats.

 

 

 — by Damien Healy
 
 
 Copyright ©2013, by Damien Healy. All Rights Reserved.
 
 
 Damien Healy is from Dublin, Ireland and has lived in Osaka, Japan for the past twenty years. He holds an MA in Applied Linguistics and teaches English language at a Japanese university. He has had three textbooks published for the Japanese university market and has also published language teaching papers in several journals. … Click to continue . . .

Breda Wall Ryan: Oneironaut

Breda Wall Ryan: Oneironaut

Oneironaut

 

Explorer of the dream world,
sit quiet on a park bench,
consider the sky,
consider cumulus divining
meaning from vapour:
a severed head
talks to itself,

a pileus skullcap,
cloud eyes dissolving
the blue of ancient ice
or mirrored sky,
a muzzled voice
reflecting an unheard cry
in nebulous mountains.

Consider the head free-floating
upside down
through wispy altostratus,
spilling the truth we tell
when we keep
the dangerous bits concealed,
even from the self.

Dreamer, nothing is lost;
in the psychic stratosphere
the sky unclouds
and the whole truth
paints a picture-map
vivid as driftwood’s
mineral flame.

 

 

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother as a Merlin

 

I woke once to a cold house.
We were snow-bound, running low
on wood and cow-nuts, and out of cocoa.
It was my task to tell my mother
when the fire burned low. And perhaps
I wanted her hands to gentle my hair
into braids and comfort the baby,… Click to continue . . .

Rosemary Jones: Notes to an Apprentice Sky Mixer

Rosemary Jones: Notes to an Apprentice Sky Mixer

Notes to an Apprentice Sky Mixer

    
This morning, a new portion of sky. A piece of skylight blue that has travelled like a package in a freighter from an indeterminate field of orbit to land on my window sill.

No address. No note attached from the sky mixer responsible. Scrutinize closely for evidence. This piece of sky is an elemental blue, the kind I’ve seen perhaps once or twice before. A rare breed, shunted off from a vaulted dome where it may have nursed a desert town in the middle of the southern hemisphere. At first glance, the arrival appears uncomfortable, self-conscious. Dabs of bluer blush. A tinge of barely recognizable scarlet. No need for that, I say. We’re out of reach of a city, and far fewer faces turn upwards to scan for sky perfection, or sky redemption, deliverance from their ordinary lives, than you’d think. If you’re worried about that.  Adopt a mode of reassurance. Speak firmly, Click to continue . . .

Donal Mahoney: Bending, Grabbing, Sorting

Donal Mahoney: Bending, Grabbing, Sorting

Bending, Grabbing, Sorting

 
    Chinese Laundry, Chicago
 
In a storefront laundry
on North Clark Street
brown draperies release
this quiet man
 
who has my shirts.
He smiles and bows–
how carefully
he wraps them.
 
Before the draperies
fall back, I see,
for a moment,
in a circle swirling
 
almost out of sight
three kerchiefed women,
glistening black,
bending, grabbing, sorting.

 

 
— by Donal Mahoney

 

Copyright ©2013, by Donal Mahoney. All Rights Reserved.

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Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.