Few have written more memorably about the work of poetry and the poetics of work than Juan Ramón Jiménez, winner of a Nobel Prize and discerning teacher of an entire generation of Spanish poets. In this series of aphorisms, Jiménez brings together the elements of perfect work, both in writing and in other realms. Among these elements—the wellsprings of any kind of creation—are instinct and inspiration, memory and forgetting, silence and noise, love and regret.
"He was named Jorge, like me, and for this his life hurts me twice." So writes Jorge Volpi in this highly original novel that presents a biographical perspective on the tragic life of the poet and chemist Jorge Cuesta. Cuesta was one of the founders of Los Contemporáneos, an influential twentieth-century literary movement. The poetic voice of Cuesta's verses can be heard throughout, offering insights into the creative and destructive forces and impulses in his work that eventually led to a mental ward—and a shocking suicide at thirty-eight. The fictional "Jorge," as narrator, embarks on an obsessive quest to understand the life of the long-dead poet, with the distance between subject and researcher blurring as he finds himself struggling to understand his own life. It is a brave search for anyone willing to gaze into the mirror of mortality "in spite of the dark silence."
Marjorie Agosín’s intensely personal long poem The Light of Desire is both a secular and sacred meditation on love and its meanings in the land of Israel. Following the tradition of the Song of Songs and the secular poetry of Sepharad, the beloved in The Light of Desire is both physical and metaphorical. The lovers’ bodies are the paths, the geography, leading not only from desire to sensual pleasure, but to memory and illumination. The light on the pink stones of Jerusalem, the sunlight of Galilee, from hills to the sea, the fragrant air and “mantle of stars,” all become one in this tender, rhapsodic expression of longing and desire. This is not unrequited love, but rather a reciprocal passion that brings exquisite pleasure, pain, a sense of fragility, and the hope and belief in that which is eternal.
The poem was written over a four-year span in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood, overlooking the wall of the Second Temple, and these hallowed surroundings imbued Agosín’s poetic voice. Lori Marie Carlson’s sensitive translation maintains the spirit of the original Spanish in this bilingual edition.
In these intimate pages, award-winning Catalan poet Joan Margarit offers a passionate defense of poetry and of the intelligible poem—the well-made text that can provide refuge, wisdom, and consolation. Inspired by Rilke's classic Letters to a Young Poet, this slender volume explores poetry as vocation, obsession, and partnership between writer and reader, a "road toward inner growth." For Margarit, poetry promises "a clarity that allows us mysteriously to live without the need to forget." This is essential reading for poets young and old, writers, and readers seeking insights into the creative process and "the way both poet and reader can find their own way to face solitude."
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