Featured Writer Maarja Kangro: One Poem

Asbestos

So, as a child, you say?
You jumped,
and the pile of Eternit cracked?
Blue sneakers, white chrysotile.
I saw the enlargement
of a 10 micrometre fiber
entering the respiratory system.
A piece of Eternit
was meant to be smoked fish?
You nibbled at it
like original sin?
Like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:
actually, you don’t feel anything,
don’t understand much,
10μm, a construction worker in filthy trousers,
an agony of an ignorant mind,
20 or 40 years, pleural plaques, mesothelioma,
scar tissue in the lungs.
Yes, every year, it seems, the lilac blooms,
and sometimes a big passion.
The fiber descends very slowly,
invisibly like the future.
A great allegory, asbestos.
Oh, don’t be mad now!
Look, this is my new favourite wine.
I’ll buy. Let’s have a glass tonight.

-Maarja Kangro

Translated from Estonian by Brandon Lussier and the author, Maarja Kangro

 

Asbest

Ah et juba lapsena?
Hüppasid,
ja eterniidivirn pragises?
Sinised tennised, valge krüsotiil.
Nägin suurendust,
kuidas 10-mikromeetrine kiud
tungib hingamisteedesse.
Eterniiditükk
oli mängult suitsukala?
Näksisite
nagu pärispattu?
Nagu hea ja kurja tundmise puud:
tegelikult ei tunne ju midagi,
aru ei saa suurt millestki,
10μm, räpastes pükstes ehitaja,
aimuta inimese agoonia,
20 või 40 aastat, pleuranaastud, mesotelioom,
sidekoestunud kops.
Jah, igal aastal justkui õitseb sirel
ja mõnikord suur kirg.
Kiud laskub väga aeglaselt
ja nähtamatult nagu tulevik:
asbest on vägev allegooria.
Oh, mis sa vihastad!
Näe, siin on mu uus lemmikvein.
Ma ostan. Teeme õhtul klaasikese.

-Maarja Kangro

 

Asbest’ by Maarja Kangro was first published in Estonian in the magazine Looming (2009) and was also included in her poetry collection Kunstiteadlase jõulupuu (The Christmas Tree of an Art Scholar) published by Eesti Keele Sihtasutus in 2010. The English translation, ‘Asbestos’ was first published on lyrikline.org. The original poem, ‘Asbest’, alongside the English translation, ‘Asbestos’, have been republished in Rochford Street Review with the author’s permission.


 

Maarja Kangro photograph by Jüri Kolk copy

Maarja Kangro. photograph by Jüri Kolk

Maarja Kangro is an Estonian poet, author, and translator who has been described as one of the most formidable voices in contemporary Estonia. By the age of forty, she had won many of the important literary awards in Estonia. In 2006, she published her first book of poems, Kurat õrnal lumel (A Devil on Tender Snow), as well as, a children’s book, Puuviljadraakon (Fruit Dragon), illustrated by her sister, Kirke Kangro. Puuviljadraakon also received the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre’s Best Book of the Year Award in 2006. She won the Tallinn University Literary Award for her second and third collections of poems: Tule mu koopasse, mateeria (Come into my Cave, Matter) in 2008 and Heureka (Eureka) in 2009. She received the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s Literary Award for poetry in 2009 for Heureka, as well as, for prose in 2011 for Ahvid ja solidaarsus (Monkeys and Solidarity). She has also written several opera librettos, a cantata, and a multimedia work, To Define Happiness.

 

Featured Writer James W. Wood: Biographical Note

~James W Wood photo

James W. Wood. photograph by James W. Wood, 2017.

James W. Wood is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Emigrant’s Farewell (The High Window Press, Leeds, UK, 2016). James was born in Scotland and now lives in Canada. His work has appeared across the USA, UK and Canada in publications such as The Boston Review (USA), The Fiddlehead (Canada), and The Times Literary Supplement (UK). He reviews books and music for Canada’s National Post group – find him @James_W_Wood.

James W. Wood: Six Poems

‘Aurevoir to Carl & Trish’ an unpublished poem by John Forbes

John Forbes working in Newtown. Photographer unknown. (Australian Poetry Library)

John Forbes working in Newtown (circa early 1980s). Photographer Laurie Duggan. (Australian Poetry Library)

This poem is occasional enough to perhaps benefit from a little bit of context, of the kind John didn’t especially like. In 1981 my partner Trish Davies and I moved to Blackheath, in the bushfire-prone Blue Mountains. At the time John’s parents — Len, a retired meteorologist, and Phyllis — also lived in Blackheath. Len was a keen golfer.

The poem and accompanying clipping came in two heavy cellophane sleeves, stapled together to form a double spread, or cottage industry looking mini-chapbook. It’s all Forbes-like enough to unleash lashings of nostalgia. I have no idea where the clipping came from, or when it was published. For all I know it might have come from an old magazine — something tells me unjustifiably it was Pol — removed from a doctor’s waiting room. The poem, typed on quarto (not A4), has two additional lines whited out: ‘& as my mother will tell you / Faith moves mountains’.

John had a mind full of nuggets of information and at one stage he earned pin money by writing questions for pub trivia nights. But he wasn’t always interested in putting poems in contexts. I know this because of his supreme indifference when I told him Frank O’Hara’s reference to the Iroquois in ‘Naphtha’ was to the fact Iroquois were employed in the construction of the great skyscrapers because they were known for not having a fear of heights. It obviously wasn’t a matter of indifference to O’Hara, but John seemed to believe the image was self-sustaining once in the poem. ‘A poem needs content like a fish needs a bicycle,’ I said to him. ‘Exactly!’ he boomed back.

– Carl Harrison-Ford

Forbes poemForbes clipping————————————————————————————————————

A detailed biography of John Forbes together with a selection of his poems can be found at the Australian Poetry Library http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/forbes-john.

Two poems by John appeared in P76 Issue 1 in 1982  – ‘Pacific’ https://p76issue1.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/john-forbes-pacific/and ‘Baby’ https://p76issue1.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/john-forbes-baby/

Carl Harrison-Ford is an editor and reviewer and, long ago, was an editor of New Poetry.

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