Friday, February 24, 2012

Aimless Reading: The R's, Part 21 (Reina María Rodríguez)

…te daré de comer como a los pájaros...
Rodríguez, Reina María
…te daré de comer como a los pájaros...

Given to me by the author on a visit to Havana, Cuba.

Reina came to Buffalo in the late nineties on the invitation of the poetics program. Her American translator, Kristen Dykstra, was a classmate of mine at the time and worked to bring her for a visit. I remember she and her partner at the time, Topo, stayed almost a week, during which time they gave a couple of readings, visited a few classes and made merry with the poetics students.

She'd been running a reading series in her Havana rooftop apartment for the past twenty years. Near the end of her visit, she offered us all the opportunity to come visit and to read in her series. Pretty soon thereafter, Kristen went to work to make this lighthearted proposition a reality, securing an official letter allowing us to travel as students to the forbidden island.

All the planning took about a year, during which time the visit became more and more official. By the time we arrived, and much to our surprise, our reading on the rooftop had mushroomed into a full-blown international poetry festival of which this gang of about a dozen Buffalo poets represented the United States.

Our first inkling came at the opening reception, which took place not on Reina's roof, but on the roof of the Palacio del Segundo Cabo, a massive colonial palace overlooking Havana Bay. Waiters served rum and cigars and everyone socialized late into the night. At one point, I found myself in a conversation with the government's official Cuban-American Cultural Affairs liaison.

We spent a week listening to poetry and talks on poetry and generally reveling in the awesomeness of Havana. We never did have a poetry reading on Reina's roof, but she did throw a couple of great parties there. She came back to Buffalo last year, but her appearance was so poorly advertised that I didn't know she was coming until about an hour before her reading, so I missed it. Alas.

from …te daré de comer como a los pájaros...

...un invierno dado por la abundancia y desorden de las palabras (en estado latente) conserva al pájaro enterrado en la breve tierra de una meseta...mi culpa se transforma en la luz que rodea al cuerpo muerto; digo, hizo de diásporas, por donde comenzaron a formarse otros cuerpos numerosos con alas: comenzó a formarse el tumor, a través del cual la realidad fue perdiendo terreno...perdiendo el organismo acumulado por la ausencia del vuelo. mi culpa despoja, actúa en el crecimiento; en cierta acentuación de la ornitología, en una especie semejante a la de la estrella que deja de contraerse y se estabiliza en un posible estado final (enana blanca); su sueño recrea un vigoroso tumulto de pájaros, pájaros que avanzan hacía numerosas cruces de madera clavadas en la tierra.

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