Featured Writer Tanja Bakić: One Poem

A mountain for you, a mountain for me

“A mountain for you, a mountain for me”, you said to me while the silent rain was falling on our umbrella, and we stood on grass that was becoming ever more sodden with water.

“What do you mean?”

“I am looking at those two mountains in front of us, and imagining me going into one of them, and you going into the other.”

“And then what?”

“And then those two mountains merge into one.”

“But what about you and me?”

“Then we both become one mountain.”

 

translated from Montenegrin by Peter Stonelake and the author, Tanja Bakić

 

Planina tebi, planina meni

„Planina tebi, planina meni“, tako si mi rekao dok je tiha kiša padala po našem kišobranu, a mi stajali na travi koja se sve više topila vodom.

„Kako to misliš?“

„Gledam u ove dvije planine naspram, i razmišljam o tome kako ja ulazim u jednu, a ti u drugu“.

„I šta onda?“

„I onda se dvije planine polako stapaju u jednu“.

„A mi?“

„I onda se i mi pretvaramo u jednu planinu“.

 

-Tanja Bakić

______________________________________________________________________

 

Tanja Bakić photo by Maja Bakić

Tanja Bakić. photograph by Maja Bakić

Tanja Bakić was born in Montenegro in 1981. Tanja is the author of five highly-praised poetry collections. She published her first book of poems when she was only fifteen. Her most recent collection, Sjeme i druge pjesme (The Seed and Other Poems), was published bilingually in English and Montenegrin in 2013. Tanja is also a translator, a music and literary critic, and holds an MA in English language and literature. She took part in a colloquium on William Blake at the Tate Britain where she also gave a poetry performance. Her poems have been published in international anthologies, and she has been awarded fellowships several times. She was the recipient of the Central European Initiative Fellowship for the year 2016, and received the British Modern Humanities Research Association Fellowship.

Featured Writer Tanja Bakić: Biographical Note

Tanja Bakić photo by Maja Bakić

Tanja Bakić. photograph by Maja Bakić

 

Tanja Bakić was born in Montenegro in 1981. Tanja is the author of five highly-praised poetry collections. She published her first book of poems when she was only fifteen. Her most recent collection, Sjeme i druge pjesme (The Seed and Other Poems), was published bilingually in English and Montenegrin in 2013. Tanja is also a translator, a music and literary critic, and holds an MA in English language and literature. She took part in a colloquium on William Blake at the Tate Britain where she also gave a poetry performance. Her poems have been published in international anthologies, and she has been awarded fellowships several times. She was the recipient of the Central European Initiative Fellowship for the year 2016, and received the British Modern Humanities Research Association Fellowship.

Featured Writer Tanja Bakić: ‘Planina tebi, planina meni’ (‘A mountain for you, a mountain for me’)

 

Featured Writer Maram al-Masri: One Poem

untitled

Boxes … boxes
Are lightly lifted up
As if they are made from air
They turn around and around
They dance with it
They sing sad songs heard loudly in the sky
Breaking the heart of the mountains

They turn and turn
As if they have wings
They fly as if they are dancing
From shoulder to shoulder flying higher and higher
And they drop down

Naked wooden boxes
Abstinent as the death of the poor
It has silenced cries
Eyes dropped down dreams
Smiles have not seen the light yet
With wet faces
With a kiss of a grieved mother.

Coffins … coffins
Gifts
To the luxury wedding of freedom

 

-Maram al-Masri

translated into English by the poet and Theo Dorgan

 

صناديق صناديق
ترفع بخفة
وكأنها مصنوعة من هواء
تدور تدور
يرقصون بها
يغنون
مواويل تصدح في السماء
تفطر الجبال لوعة

تدور تدور
وكأن لها اجنحة
تطير وكأنها ترقص
من كتف لكتف تعلو تعلو
وتهبط

صناديق خشبية عارية
متقشفة كموت الفقراء
بها صرخات كتمت
احلام مسجلة العينين
ابتسامات لن ترى النور بعد
بها وجوه مبللة
بقبلة أم مفجوعة

توابيت توابيت
هدايا
لعرس الحرية الباذخ

 

مرام المصري

 

Maram al-Masri’s poem was originally published in Arabic and French in Elle va nue, la liberté by Éditions Bruno Doucey in 2013. It has been republished in Rochford Street Review in Arabic and English with the author’s permission.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Maram al-Masri photo by Philippe Barnoud

Maram al-Masri. photograph by Philippe Barnoud

Maram al-Masri (مرام المصري) was born in Syria and now lives in Paris. She is a writer and translator, and is regarded as one of the major female voices of her generation. She has been awarded numerous prizes, and is the author of five books, the most recent of which is Elle va nue, la liberté (Éditions Bruno Doucey, 2013). In Elle va nue, la liberté, she directly addresses the war in Syria; focussing on the women and children, the suffering of the helpless, and through it all, the deep desire for freedom.

 

Maram al-Masri’s blog:  http://maramalmassri.blogspot.com.au/

Elle va nue, la liberté is available from Amazon

 

Featured Writer Maram al-Masri: Biographical Note

~Maram al-Masri photo by Philippe Barnoud_resized

Maram Al Masri. photograph by Philippe Barnoud

 

Maram al-Masri ( مرام المصري ) was born in Syria and now lives in Paris. She is a writer and translator, and is regarded as one of the major female voices of her generation. She has been awarded numerous prizes, and is the author of five books, the most recent of which is Elle va nue, la liberté (Éditions Bruno Doucey, 2013). In Elle va nue, la liberté, she directly addresses the war in Syria; focussing on the women and children, the suffering of the helpless, and through it all, the deep desire for freedom. She has been awarded the Adonis Prize of the Lebanese Cultural Forum for the best creative work in Arabic in 1998, the Premio Citta di Calopezzati for the section Poesie de la Mediterranee, and the Prix d’Automne 2007 of the Societe des gens de letters.

Featured Writer Maram al-Masri: One Poem in Arabic and English

Maram al-Masri’s blog: http://maramalmassri.blogspot.com.au/

Elle va nue, la liberté is available from Amazon

Featured Writer Hanane Aad: Two Poems

Love’s Spark

The trees and the birds
have long safeguarded
a spark known as Love,
and the ducks on the lake,
floating in the night of time,
never cease teaching humans
how to dance with their age,
also
how to float on the surface
of their melancholy.

 

The Child of Time

Time never tires of listening,
always waiting to get its fill of us,
so that it, too, can be.
Time always calls me:
‘My little child!’
and tells me it’s nothing but a void
without my magic dance
at the gates of the moment.
It murmurs in my ear that its blood
is cooled in my veins.

I am the child of Time, I say:
Time tastes of the most delicious wine
we drink it, and it drinks us
we and time await
our drunkenness together
till the angel of indulgence
wholly unembarrassed
crosses our melancholy foreheads.

 

-Hanane Aad

Translated by Peter Waugh and Hanane Aad

 

شرارة

الأشجار والعصافير تحرس أبداً
شرارة في الكون اسمها الحب
والبطّ العائم منذ دهر في البحيرة
يلقّن البشر بلا كلل
كيف يراقصون أعمارهم،
أيضاً
كيف يعومون على سطح كآباتهم.

 

طفلة الوقت

الوقت مثابر على الاصغاء
ينتظر أن بنا نملأه
لكي يكون.
يناديني أبداً:يا ٱبنتي الصغيرة
يقصّ عليّ أنْ عدمٌ هو
بلا رقصي الساحر
على أبواب اللحظة
يهمس لي أنْ في عروقي
دمه يدفق.
أنا طفلة الوقت أقول:
للوقت طعم الخمرة الألذّ
نحتسيه، يحتسينا
نثمل كلانا
كي يعبر بلا ارتباك
ملاك الرأفة
على جباهنا الكئيبة.

 

-Hanane Aad

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Hanane Aad_photo by Stephan_NO LAST NAME

Hanane Aad. photograph by Stephan

Hanane Aad is a Lebanese poet, journalist and translator who has lived in Austria since 2009. She has published seven books: five in Arabic, Who Will Buy Me Certainty? (2015) in English, and Duet of Flowers (2016). Her most recent, Duet of Flowers, was a collaboration with the Japanese poet Mariko Sumikura and published in both Japanese and English. Hanane has read her poetry in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Her poetry has been translated into seventeen languages. She won awards for excellence in poetry at the Tudor Arghezi Literature Festival 2014 and foreign poetry at the Poesis Festival 2011 of Satu Mare, Romania. Hanane Aad also received the Prize of the Lebanese Ministry of Culture in 2000 and the International Award for Excellence in Journalism of the International Catholic Union of the Press in 2001 in Geneva.

 

A taste of the international poetry festivals: Featured Writers’ introduction by Les Wicks

The Rovers

An international poetry festival is a life changing event for the poets and more than a few of the audience. Let me paint a picture – somewhere between thirty and one hundred and forty writers trickle in from the four corners of the globe. There’s a strange combination of jet lag and inspiration as veterans meet again while newbies try to get a handle on what the hell is happening.

Sometimes, later that same day you give your first performance. There can be up to five thousand people in the audience – there’s popcorn, audio visuals and even autograph hunters. They are there for poetry. Poetry matters.

One of the things that perpetually frustrates me is that Australia is unlikely to host a true international poetry festival anytime soon. There are several reasons – travel is so expensive, the governments here have really cut back on literature support, and while we are quite culturally diverse, poetry is highly marginalised here. But we can and must do it someday.

I want to bring you a taste via Rochford Street Review. Across the globe, there are poets who regularly appear at these incredible forums. I have selected sixteen from the festival circuit. They vary in age, voice and career stage but all bring something unique to the world poetry movement. I specifically chose not to include any from the United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the United Kingdom as they are disproportionately represented in the meagre list of international writers that have been brought to Australia.

 

-Les Wicks

_______________________________________________________________________

 

Les Wicks

Les Wicks. photograph by Susan Adams (2014).

Les Wicks has toured widely and been published in 28 countries and 13 languages. His 13th book of poetry is Getting By Not Fitting In (Island, 2016). His 12th, El Asombrado, is a selection of poems from the previous fifteen years in Spanish and English translated by G. Leogena and published by Rochford Street Press in 2015. He can be found at http://leswicks.tripod.com/lw.htm

 

Juan Garrido Salgado- biographical note

Juan's Launch 17

Juan Garrido Salgado. photo by Tania Garrido

Juan Garrido Salgado immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his political activism. He has published five books of poetry, and his poems have been widely translated. He has also translated collections of poetry from John Kinsella, Mike Ladd, Judith Beveridge, Dorothy Porter and MTC Cronin into Spanish, including Cronin’s Talking to Neruda’s Questions (2004). He translated five Aboriginal poets for Espejo de Tierra/ Earth Mirror a poetry anthology edited by Peter Minter (2008). With Steve Brock and Sergio Holas, Juan Garrido Salgado translated poems from Spanish into English for Poetry of the Earth: Mapuche Trilingual Anthology (2014). His later book Dialogue with Samuel Lafferte in Australia (2016) was published by Blank Rune Press.

Juan Garrido Salgado: six poems with translations

Juan Garrido Salgado: six poems with translations

I Invite Jorge Luis Borges to My Birthday to Play Chess with Me

after ‘The Game of Chess’ by J. L. Borges

I

Sitting at the board pending movements,
two seats, one occupied. The other waits for my guest.
The clock is breathing space. I hear footsteps and a cane in the corridor.
The game starts. In silence he moves his pieces, blindness accurately corrected.

In mid-July, I’m on the border between Cancer and Leo in my 59th year.
My heart is like an infinite sea shore. The shadow is my own boat.
The waves are the wings of a condor, drunk and angry with the sky,
wetting my dreams with the wild sound of a wounded bird.

You move your pieces as if devouring your body on this night.
You, blind Borges, on the east side of my table,
murmuring Homer as you make your first move.
You are my guest in this poem of chess; you control the attack.

We remain at the board, moving between the candles and the drinks.

The white pieces are yours, I say,
I prefer black to represent decolonisation in the game.
Perhaps it is a metaphor.

II

The pieces are transformed into modern figures:
Google castle; Catullus, Lesbia’s knight;
queens Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton;
the kings of all the colonies; Syria’s pawn soldiers;
the oblique bishops,shameful sins.

Please, I tell Borges, fill our glasses and let’s toast the illusion of peace.

As you wrote, in the East, the war has taken fire,
but in the West, weapons of mass destruction have created an inferno,
their colliding forces of power murdering mother earth.
We, the players, are taking a long pause for peace on my birthday.
I say, thanks to you Viejo Borges, chess master.
Who replies, this game is forever.

 

Invito a Jorge Luis Borges a mi cumpleaños a jugar al ajedrez conmigo

I

Sentado al tablero pendiente de movimientos
Dos asientos, uno ocupado. El otro en espera del huésped.
El reloj respira espacio. Oigo pasos y un bastón en el pasillo.
Comienza el juego. En silencio mueve sus piezas, la ceguera corrige con precisión.

A mediados de julio, estoy en la frontera entre Cáncer y Leo en mi 59
Mi corazón es una orilla infinita. La sombra es mi propio barco.
Las olas alas de un Cóndor borracho y enojado con el cielo
Mojando sueños en un sonido salvaje del ave herida.

Él mueve su pieza como si la noche devorara su cuerpo.
Tú, Borges al lado de esta mesa
Murmurando a Homero bajo tus primeros movimientos.
Le digo de nuevo, usted es mi invitado en este poema. Usted controla el ataque.

Nosotros, jugadores todavía en el tablero.
Nos movemos entre candelabros y bebidas.

Las piezas blancas son suyas, le digo.
Prefiero las negras por la razón de descolonizar el juego
Quizás esto sea una metáfora

II

Las piezas se transforman en figuras modernidad:
castillo de Google. caballero Lesbia de Catulo.
Margaret Thatcher o Hillary Clinton reinas modernas.
Rey de todas las colonias de la comarca. Los peones son de la guerra en Siria.
Obispo oblicuo y silencioso vergüenza de sus propios pecados.

Por favor, le sugiero Borges, llenar los vasos para brindar por la ilusión de la paz.

Como dijo en esta línea; En el este, la guerra se ha disparado
Pero en Occidente, las armas de destrucción masiva han creado un infierno,
Con su alianza de fuerzas de poder, está muriendo la madre tierra.
En mi cumpleaños somos jugadores tomando una larga pausa por la paz.
Le digo, gracias a ti viejo Borges, maestro
Quién responde: este juego es para siempre

 

I Am Reading the Line, ‘we live in a third-floor flat’

after ‘The Sadness of Creatures’, by Peter Porter

I am reading the line, ‘we live in a third-floor flat’ by Peter Porter
and my eyes climb my mind like a little boy up an old tree.
I go back to 1990, at the Pennington Hostel
when, after three months, we moved to a third-floor flat
with just a handful of English words and an old dictionary.
All we owned were clothes, toys, a black and white TV, and lots of worries.
A third-floor flat that gave us a home without beds, blankets for sleeping on the floor
and our first second-hand pots, plates, spoons and forks for this party of crying.

A third-floor flat where I do not recall seeing a single smile when we went downstairs,
only shut curtains and closed doors, the inhabitants steeped in silence.

A third-floor flat where in summer we lived with the sun as our closest neighbour,
no chance to rest inside the room that was hot like an oven all day.

A third-floor flat where at night we sensed cats drinking milk on top of the warm roof,
talking to the stars which filled the unfamiliar solitude of our new home.

 

Estoy Leyendo esta Línea ‘vivimos en un tercer piso de un edificio’

Poema basado en esta línea de Peter Porter

Estoy leyendo esta línea ‘vivimos en un tercer piso de un edificio’, de Peter Porter
mis ojos suben a la mente como niño a un árbol viejo,
vuelvo a 1990, a ese Albergue de Pennington.
Cuando, después de tres meses, nos trasladamos a un tercer piso
Con sólo un puñado de palabras en inglés y un viejo diccionario;
el resto eran ropas, juguetes y una tv en blanco y negro;
todo lo demás una gran cantidad de preocupaciones.

Tercer piso que nos dio un hogar sin camas, mantas para dormir en el suelo
Las primeras ollas de segunda mano, platos, cucharas y tenedores
para nuestra primera fiesta del llanto.

Tercer piso, no recuerdo haber visto ni una sola sonrisa bajando escaleras,
cortinas y puertas cerradas, pasos habitando el silencio.

Tercer piso que en verano vivimos con el sol como el vecino más cercano,
sin tiempo para descansar, con el fuego como un horno abierto todo el día.

Tercer piso, por la noche nos sentimos gatos que beben la leche sobre el techo hirviendo,
conversación con estrellas que llenan la soledad en este nuevo hogar.

 

As a Child on Nauru

“As a Child on Nauru I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”
As a child I had to pronounce those letters and numbers,
it was a cruel game that hurt my dreams.
In the midst of so much injustice
a guard howled from this torment of dust:
You, NR03-283. The guard said that to a child!
Now I am twenty-four, I ask, “Please bring back our stolen humanity.
I’ve experienced detention and its effects first hand
in ways I can’t yet explain.
I saw detention push the adults around me to the brink of hopelessness.
I witnessed self-harm and suicide attempts.
No one should have to go through that.”
“I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammah Ali Baqiri.”
As a child my home was walls without windows to see the moon
or count the stars; even my dreams weren’t free.
My town was fences without gardens or birds
or animals to call my friends or play.
As a child the school where I went to learn English
was a room full of shadowy body-guards —
But they weren’t interested in talking to me,
even they were grudging teachers.
Still, I learnt enough to say —
“As a Child on Nauru I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”

* All quotes come from an article entitled ‘As a Child on Nauru I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammad Ali Baqiri’, written by Mohammad Ali Baqiri and published in The Guardian on Tuesday 15 March 2016

 

Como un Niño en el Centro de Detención de Nauru

“Como Niño en Nauru yo era solo un código NR03-283,
.                                               pero mi nombre es Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”
De niño tuve que pronunciar esas letras y números,
Fue un juego cruel que hirió mis sueños.
En medio de tanta injusticia
Un guardia aulló desde este tormento de polvo:
Oye tú, NR03-283. ¡El guardia le dijo al niño!
Ahora tengo veinticuatro años y pregunto:
.                                  “Por favor trae de vuelta a nuestra humanidad robada.
He experimentado la detención y sus efectos de primera mano
De maneras que todavía no puedo explicarla.
Vi que la detención empujaba a los adultos al borde de la desesperanza.
Fui testigo autolesiones e intentos de suicidio.
Nadie debería tener que pasar por esto. ”

“Yo fui ese código NR03-283, pero mi nombre es Mohammah Ali Baqiri.”
Cuando niño, mi hogar era paredes sin ventanas para ver la luna
O contar las estrellas; Incluso mis sueños no eran libres.
Mi ciudad se hizo de cercas sin jardines ni pájaros
Ni animales para llamar a mis amigos o jugar.

Cuando niño, la escuela donde aprendí inglés
Fue una habitación llena de sombríos guardias –
Pero no estaban interesados en hablar conmigo,
Incluso ellos fueron maestros a regañadientes.
Sin embargo, he aprendido lo suficiente para decir –
“Como Niño en Nauru yo fui este código NR03-283,
.                                 Aunque  mi nombre es Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”

* Todas las citas provienen de un artículo titulado ‘Como un Niño en Nauru yo era NR03-283, pero mi nombre es Mohammad Ali Baqiri’, escrito por Mohammad Ali Baqiri y publicado en The Guardian el martes 15 de marzo de 2016, Australia.

 

I’m a Citizen of the Earth

I’m not an ethnic…I was born on Mapudungun land in 1957

I’ m not a refugee…my suitcases were full of memories, tears and lost kisses

I’ m a political prisoner from Pinochet’s regime…but my cell was a dark and painful space

I don’t have a permanent visa to enter Australia

I’m only a fucking citizen

On this battered land

Pronouncing broken verses

Howling the hope that still grows like scorched seed

In the forest burned by the silence of water

Arrived to this shore long ago

 

Soy Ciudadano de la Tierra

no soy étnico ……. Nací en la tierra de Mapudungun, 1957

no soy un refugiado … mis maletas de la memoria se llenaron de lágrimas

y de besos perdidos

soy a un prisionero político del régimen de Pinochet …

pero mi celda fue espacio oscuro y doloroso

no tengo más visa permanente Australia

soy sólo uno más de estos culiao ciudadano

en esta tierra maltrecha

caminando con versos mal pronunciados

aullando a esa esperanza que sigue creciendo como semilla chamuscada

en el bosque quemado por el silencio del agua

que arribó por mucho tiempo en esta orilla.

 

How to Believe in Death?

To Gaddafi and his Green Revolution

How to believe in the unbelievable death
That occurs when greed plans war?
It is a cruel distribution of profit and power,
a murderous financial system’s insanity.
NATO & the USA have destroyed homes
With their occupying army of death.
NATO & the USA have made tears run in rivers of agony.
NATO & the USA’s eyes were only open to the prizes of the desert…

How to believe in this unbelievable death?
Walls fall onto the plates of Palestinian children,
They are fed the tears and the bones of the dead.
How to believe in this death
When hatred is a legalised document
Of the United Nations General Assembly?
How to believe in this death
When power conjures dictatorships and disappearances?
When power plans massacres and exile?
When power orchestrates famine and looting?

How to believe in this unbelievable death
When I remember a time I lived happily in my country?
I was a citizen of the streets and a student of hope!
How to believe in this death
When Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize
Living in his paradise of shit where death is celebrated?
How to believe in this death
When Gaddafi’s land was savagely invaded
As the Promised Land for the West?

How to believe in this unbelievable death
When you will not admit that what you really want is our copper,
Our oil, our salt, our rivers, our lands and our mountains?
Do you want our hearts, our bodies and our minds too?

How to believe in this unbelievable life
When you want us as slaves in your ‘free world’?

How to believe in this unbelievable death
When the revolution is pregnant
With Guevara’s spirit on earth
And with Indigenous ancestors’ dreams, carajo!!!

 

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?

A Gaddafi y su revolución verde

Si el odio es una guerra planificada
Repartos de ganancias y poder.
Nada más que ganancias en crisis.
Pero la muerte de la ocupación
Tiene nombre de mi patria
Tiene hogares destruidos
Tiene llanto de ríos mudos del dolor,
Tiene ojos abiertos al olor del desierto.
Muros caídos en los platos de niños palestinos
Cuchareando lágrimas y huesos de tantos muertos

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si el odio es un documento legalizado
En la Asamblea General de naciones unidas
¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si el poder fabrica dictadores y desaparecidos.
Planifica masacres y exilio
Planifica hambrunas y saqueos.

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si hubo un tiempo que viví en mi país feliz,
Fui ciudadano de calles y estudiante de la esperanza.
¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si, Henry Kissinger tiene el premio Nobel de la Paz,
fue él quien sentencio a Salvador Allende.

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si, Barack Obama tiene el premio Nobel de la Paz.
En su paraíso hecho mierda,
Pero invade Libia y expulsa a Gaddafi
De la tierra prometida para el West.

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si no nos dicen que quieren nuestro Cobre.
Que quieren nuestro Petróleo
Nuestra Sal y nuestros ríos
Que quieren nuestro suelo y nuestras montañas
Que quieren nuestro corazón, cuerpos y mente.

¿Cómo creerle a la vida?
Si nos quieren esclavos en su mundo libre.
¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si la revolución está preñada de verde, indígena y guevarista, Carajo!!!

 

Have we no voice, no tune?

after An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of Paul’s, Dr. John Donne’, by Thomas Carew

 

Your voice fades with the footsteps of death

Eyes glaze beneath syllables of agony

Dry blood falls on uttered words

Music regrets bearing witness

To the speeches that brick Trump’s wall

Beyond meaning

Have we no voice left, no melody?

The poet battles

on the pages of these blank days

 

¿Ya no tenemos voz, ni melodía?

Poema inspirado  en la ‘Elegy upon of the Dean of Paul’s, Dr John Donne’ de Thomas Carew

 

la voz se apaga en los pasos de la muerte

la mirada tiene sílabas de la agonía

la sangre seca cae en la palabra  pronunciada

melodía se lamenta de ser testigo

del discurso que amuralla aquel muro de Trump

más allá de su sentido

¿ya no tenemos voz, ni melodía?

el poeta se compromete

en la página de estos días vacíos.

-Juan Garrido Salgado

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Juan Garrido Salgado immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his political activism. He has published five books of poetry, and his poems have been widely translated. He has also translated collections of poetry from John Kinsella, Mike Ladd, Judith Beveridge, Dorothy Porter and MTC Cronin into Spanish, including Cronin’s Talking to Neruda’s Questions (2004). He translated five Aboriginal poets for Espejo de Tierra/ Earth Mirror a poetry anthology edited by Peter Minter (2008). With Steve Brock and Sergio Holas, Juan Garrido Salgado translated poems from Spanish into English for Poetry of the Earth: Mapuche Trilingual Anthology (2014). His later book Dialogue with Samuel Lafferte in Australia (2016) was published by Blank Rune Press.

Zalehah Turner Biographical Note

Mark Roberts interviews Zalehah Turner    Zalehah Turner Four Poems

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet, writer, critic, and editor undertaking Honours (BA Communication) in 2017. She is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review (RSR), an online journal of cultural criticism with a strong focus on poetry. Zalehah edits, publishes and promotes many of the featured articles and poets in RSR. She has also reviewed a wide range of cultural events for both it and Vertigo. Her mixed media poetry has been exhibited at several venues around Australia. Her most recent series, Interstices, was published on the Vertigo website in October 2016.

Mark Roberts interviews Zalehah Turner

Zalehah Turner Biographical Note   Zalehah Turner Four Poems

When did you start writing poetry? Can you remember the first poem you ever wrote?

The first poem I ever wrote was either ‘The House of Change’ or ‘Pills, Opportunities and Optimism’. Both were part of a series six of poems written as an assessment piece for English in High School. I’ve always been interested in intermedia and transmedia poetry. I created a one woman show accompanied by audio and visual media for Theatre based on ‘Pills, Opportunity and Optimism’. The rest of the five poems, I developed as theatrical, multimedia pieces for a play I wrote for the same subject entitled, Andrea, Alec and Avril which included contemporary ballet, a medusa style, snake queen on stilts, skaters in wire meshing, and a Chinese dragon rat.

The threat of death interrupted my studies at 19 and continued to over many years. However, I never stopped writing and drawing. The first poems that I wrote after returning to university study were four haikus which were displayed in Federation Square as part of the Overload Poetry Festival in 2008.

What made you want to write to start writing poetry?

The short answer, reading ‘Howl’ by Allen Ginsberg and my love of words and poetry.

Can you talk about some of the major influences on your work? Who were the poets that inspired you to start writing and have those influences changed over time?

My work is influenced by art, films, novels, music, and poetry. I am continually impressed by the power of expression from creatives working in a variety of mediums who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Milton by Blake made a significant impact on me at a young age. It was on my mother’s bookshelf along with other books of poetry and works of literature. It seemed magical, powerful and mysterious. It definitely encouraged my desire to engage through both art and poetry. Howl by Allen Ginsberg inspired me to start writing poetry. Its impact on my life was uncontested until, I read The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot. I read and re-read the poem and was incredibly intrigued by all the literary and personal references within it. Admittedly, I first read T.S. Eliot’s The Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as a child, so, perhaps his influence was there all along. My poetry was, and still is, incredibly influenced by Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space.

Curating the featured writers for Rochford Street Review has also significantly inspired me. It may also have inadvertently helped me develop my Honours Project. It has significantly increased my appreciation of Australian poetry as well as, opening me up to work from Manus Island, Ukraine, and Russia. Interviewing poets and reading their reflections upon their own work is incredibly interesting and inspiring.
For me one of the highlights of your work at RSR has been the leading role you took with the New Shoots Prize (co-creating, judging, promoting). Can you tell me about how you went about organising that prize and the work involved? I’m particularly interested in understanding if it influenced your own work in any way.

I undertook an internship with The Red Room Company early in 2016 where I complied a collection of plant inspired poetry for Tamryn Bennett, the Artistic Director of the RRC. The RRC were just beginning their project New Shoots. I saw the opportunity, as an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review, to collaborate by developing a prize or rather prizes where the winners could be published in RSR, RRC and on the Royal Botanic Garden website. Tamryn and I agreed on the guidelines which I wrote and she put together a great package of poetry anthologies, seed packets and journals for the different prizes. There was an incredible amount of work involved but as ecology, poetry and community engagement are all very important to me, it was an invaluable and inspiring experience. I was impressed with the submissions, the variation and range, as well as, the strength in the poetry. I put together a shortlist. Tamryn and I easily agreed on all the winners, and most of the highly commended.

I developed a plant inspired poetry prompt for social media each Sunday as way to promote, inspire and engage poets and plant lovers. It opened my eyes to the incredible changes that the planet is undergoing and the amazing responses from artists, poets and the world as a whole. Publishing the poems and interviewing the winning and highly commended poets was a great chance to go back and take an in depth look at poems we had chosen and find out what the poets had to say about their own work. If the entire experience didn’t influence the way I think and write, including the topics I write on, I would be surprised. Sure enough, when I met with my Honours supervisor late last year to discuss my project for 2017, I warned her of the possible impact of New Shoots on my chosen project!

What are you working on now?

I am currently editing a couple of poetry reviews from contributors which I aim to publish in Rochford Street Review soon. I am also reviewing two poetry collections, one art exhibition, and currently finalising the editing and layout for the Featured Writer for issue 22. Aside for my work as Associate Editor at Rochford Street Review, I am working on a 30-page intermedia poetry collection entitled, Critical condition, focused on the interstitial threshold between life and death in medical crises. Critical condition is my Honours Project and the Creative component of my Honours (Communication) degree at the University of Technology, Sydney which I started last week.

Many Thanks Zalehah