Monday, June 13, 2005

Venus Khoury-Ghata: poems from She Says

Without the wisteria
the garden would have climbed over the fence to move in on the posh side of the road

The wisteria is its guardrail against drifting
its belt of happiness
its counselor in judging cats and ceding the canary's cage to the chastest of them

Without wisteria
there would be no more autumns
only winters with umbrellas which pass each other without exchanging the slightest raindrop

The wisteria flattens out when angels cross it in a gust of wind
a pot of jam under each wing
and their shoulders the bread of grief


She carried her load of fog in all kinds of weather
The man who set his house up higher than the smoke lent her his five-knotted rope

like the fingers needed to drill a sparrow's grave
he reminded her before going round the bend in the road

On her daily rounds she learned that the roads narrow approaching poor villages
and that one cicada can deafen a whole family of broom

Those who heard her panting beneath her burden didn't offer her their shoulders which were as slippery as their slopes
All they knew of the stranger was her green shadow which stretched as far as their sheepfolds mixing up children and livestock
then crossed their beds in a burst of laughter

(trans. Marilyn Hacker, published by Graywolf 2003)

I love this book!

Anyway, just to let folks know, and to show off, I was chosen as an Editor's Choice for Staple 62, as someone who deserves more attention and is original. It's an interesting and provocative issue anyway, as it offers and alternative selection to the recent Next/New Generation lot, drawn from the Small Presses rather than the ubiquitous big publishers who get all the publicity. Buy small press! You know it makes sense.

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