I knew it will be difficult to find a new focus for my writing for the Winter 2016-2017. At least a focus strong enough to continue with one part of my writing that is essential to me: creative writing.
I decided instead that I would spend most of my time challenging my inner child and enjoy whatever type of writing would come to me. I was a bit exhausted by the work I did in the two previous years-I moved from one state to another and I finished two collections and one enormous translation-- I would welcome the type of writing that never pays off in any way. That meant that writing would probably sit on my desk for years before I would get around to editing it into something, or shaping it into a form. But we are not writing for the money, right? Right.
After both of my parents died at the end of 2016, it was difficult to find one thing to give all my attention. It was as if, the more I tried to write or continue to write my ongoing projects, the more writing itself felt meaningless. My mother never gave much attention to my writing and my father used to believe that I wrote only because he had some interest in writing himself and because I was so similar to him, both in character and interest. Both of his beliefs were completely wrong of course, but I never had the courage to tell him.
When I wrote my first book of poetry and I sent him and my family a copy of it, my family called me to ask that I not send books to my father. He went into a deep depression and the family needed to take him to a forced vacation in Pucon, an area in the South of Chile, to help him to deal with the sadness. I asked him when I had the opportunity what had happened and he told me: " I never imagined that one of my children had suffered so much!" he told me.
I truly thought long and deeply about whether my writing would ever be a positive thing to anyone but me or to those few that read my work. I inspired a few to write their books because my first book was so confessional, so full of errors, so incredibly shameless that those few I inspired said to me, if you can write a book, I can do it, too. Despite this, something inside always told me that the fact that I had the need to write all my life was NOT a coincidence. I went into an M.F.A program a decade ago. And so far I haven't regret it. There, I polished some old poems that were among my papers for over a decade. I was fine with the results.
When parents are gone, it is rough no matter what. Every time I go through some rough times, something happens to me, the writing changes. This past year was not an exception. I could not write anything else than historical or non-fiction pieces. I was not able to polish or concentrate on one single poem until now. Until I saw the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms trees that came to my rescue. What would have happened to me if I would have gone into my second year without writing poetry? a second year without peeling day by day the essence of earth and seeing the colors of the sky. I don't remember saying hello to a neighbor for over a year. It was dark out here for a while, I thought that all the words grew wings and traveled far from me to escape so much loss.
Hasta el 18 de julio del 2016 se recibieron los micro cuentos para participar del concurso “Me contaron de Chile”, organizado por la Dirección para Comunidades de Chilenos en el Exterior (DICOEX) del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. El concurso ha premiado a los mejores cuentos en 4 categorías.
Una de las ganadoras del concurso fue la Sra. Constanza Fuentes Reveco, quien ganó un premio en el Concurso Literario "Me Contaron Chile. Respondiendo al pedido del Consulado General de Chile en Chicago me he encontrado con la senora Fuentes y le he hecho entrega de un diploma, una bandeja de plata y una serie de libros y literatura chilena.
Aqui en este blog comparto unas fotos y un video de la entrega del premio a la Senora Constanza Fuentes. Felicitaciones de parte del Consulado Honorario de Chile en Detroit!!
Consul Honorario de Chile en Detroit.
New Book: Canto General
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Thanks to David Young for his review of my new translation of Neruda’s Canto General, now published in Field Magazine!
The review is not online, but if you would like to subscribe to this wonderful magazine you have the opportunity to do so now if you follow this link! $5 is not much if you consider how much you get and how you can help the press. You can add it to your leisure expense section of your taxes later on. I’m lucky to share the pages with Forrest Gander, another translator. I met Forrest for the first time at the Miami Book Festival where we both had the opportunity to read from our recent translations of Neruda.
Despite how difficult it is to understand 2016, with the loss of my father at the end of August and the loss of my mother the same day I lost one of my best friends (Derick) in December, life continues to offer opportunities that bring love and light into all this darkness.
Thanks to Eyewear Publishing in London, special thanks to Todd Swift, Edwin Smet and Kelly Davio at Eyewear, for this beautiful book!!
For pre-orders of this book from Eyewear Publishing go to:
Published January 2017
Price £12.99 / $ 12.99
Declassified is an enigmatic, at times erotic, and often passionate, exploration of relationships and politics, finding their shared tropes of deception, subterfuge, and even espionage. The poems move between a revolutionary, and a ‘Her’ based in the American Midwest of today. Ultimately, the book’s focus is on love – between husbands and wives, friends, and a mother and her daughter – and how, in these challenging times, only the strongest bonds resist decay. Griffor’s style moves between a hypnotic prose poetry and the rich magic realism of Latin American poets.
Mariela Griffor’s brilliant poems navigate the distance between languages, homelands and heartlands. Her poems are the musical and engraved declarations the wounded world requires.
— Derick Burleson
When I read poets who are new to me I usually see what they are doing but very often can’t see why they are doing it. I don’t have to wonder for a second why Mariela Griffor writes as she does. On a first reading the sheer urgency driving her strongest poems stopped me in my tracks: it arises from the private tragedies of her earlier years before she left Chile, and of course these tragedies were also public, affecting many thousands. Her most affecting lines are phrased simply, often with a vulnerable air, yet they are tough. These lines carry great weight: that is no small achievement. --
--Robin Fulton Macpherson
Canto General. Anatomy of a Book #1
Usually when I tell people that I write poetry, they tell me “Me too!” No matter where I am the answer is always similar to: “OK, I wrote poetry when I was young”, or “I write poetry from time to time.”
When they ask me what else I write I usually say “that’s it, just poetry, from time to time I translate a book that is both essential and monumental and is not yet available in English.”
But the other day, while I was in a line at the postal service, somebody asked me “Why write more books, there are so many books already!” I replied, “True, it is true” I replied, “but some books are very special, like kids’ books or books about special flowers, or special pets.” “They can change lives!” I said.
And indeed this Canto General by Pablo Neruda changed my own life. It was not until I read this book that I understood the meaning of my own ‘dislocation’. Of course, I experience the pain of exile, the confusion of being away from my home, my family, friends, my language, my sweet loved home and country. It was not until I read those amazing stanzas of love for the homeland that Pablo Neruda wrote all the while he was persecuted, hunted down to be killed by his own government that I understood the meaning of patriotic love. There are no similar lines of beauty and praise for nature, for the land and its people than in these lines of the Canto General: Song of the Americas of Pablo Neruda now released by Tupelo Press.
This is a book that has been misunderstood. It is not a political pamphlet. It is one of the most beautiful poems ever written and it has gone largely unnoticed as such. It is indeed Neruda’s ‘magnum opus’. It is the song for the Americas in its highest form. The cover of this translation is stunning in its own beauty. A selection that complements the idea of the Conquistador and the Indian in one single image. I’m so lucky to be able to work with the Tupelo team!. I have had several writers and editors that quit on me because of the enormous challenge and scope of the work! Thanks Jeffrey Levine, Jim Schley, Kirsten Miles, Cassandra Cleghorn and Marie Gauthier.
And all of you that helped with the initial project! Thank you. I started this translation in 2010 and so much has been changing in these six years. I lost the sense of time with this project. I have even lived in another state since last year. I try to write full time now but nothing that I can say here can explain why this book, what is it in this book, how has this book become a part of you and transformed you from within. There are no words that could provide a short cut to an explanation of why this book is so relevant today that you need to read it. This book can bring you to the state of mind that Neruda had when he wrote Canto General. You will understand when you read the introduction in the book and when you read this long incomparable poem.
Thank you for being with me through all of this and for joining all of us on this adventure.
I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Sweden to read with old and new friends, Kjell Espmark, Dipak Mazumdar, Lars Palm and Anna Alexandra Maria Sozzani-Brodsky.
Many thanks to publisher Alexander Deriev.
Återkomst – ReturnFem poeter läser
lördag 7 november 2015 14:00 - 15:00
Bibliotek Plattan • Fri Entré
ÅTERKOMST – RETURN är en minipoesifestival arrangerad av nyligen återuppståndna tidskriften och förlaget Ars Interpres.
Medverkande författare är Kjell Espmark, Mariela Griffor, Dipak Mazumdar, Lars Palm och Anna Alexandra Maria Sozzani-Brodsky.
Festivalen kommer att bestå av uppläsningar, bokpresentationer och samtal mellan författarna, där temat ÅTERKOMST – RETURN kommer att vara en gemensam nämnnare.
Sömnlöshet by Mariela Griffor/Ars Interpres Publications, Stockholm, Sweden/
2015/212 pages/ €23,00 EUR/ ISBN: 978-91-980386-6-8
Orders: Alexander Deriev/Tingvallavägen/195 31 Märsta/ Telefon: 08-59113267
When Alexander Deriev, who has a deep understanding and appreciation of poetry, called and told me he wanted to publish a trilingual book (Sömnlöshet) of my poems, I laughed at first. I wondered immediately just how many people would buy such a rare sort of book. I had once been listed years ago as “an author of rare books” together with some others regarded as cult writers – which I took great pleasure in – but then I thought: We enjoy the privileged amount of “just a few” that read our work!
Though the thought was amusing, deep inside I was flattered, very flattered. I knew Deriev was a connoisseur of poetry and that gave me a great feeling and, at the same time, a little bit of pressure of responsibility. Immediately my mind tried to find ways of releasing the tension, the pressure. I told him immediately “Yes”, but that he should not be disappointed if the sales of the book were low or even minimal.
He said he didn’t care. So I thought, here we are, two bibliophiles, talking about a trilingual book that perhaps nobody would read. The world is stranger than I thought. At least I like this kind of strange, at least this path does not involve killing or impoverishing people, right? Or maybe the world had always been this multilingual, multicultural, and it took a while for us to understand that fact, until the arrival of globalization!
When most of the publishers and writers (and editors of course!) are preoccupied with the number of sales, we were immersed in the discussion of what language should be first or second or third in the book. We decided to go with Swedish first. Swedish is an extraordinarily beautiful language but it is largely unknown outside Sweden. However since the book is to be distributed primarily in Sweden we decided to go with Swedish first, then English and Spanish.
Alexander’s wife, Regina Derieva, had been suffering from a lengthy illness and for several years he took devotedly care of his wife until she died in December of 2013.
Now, when he was returning to previously planned projects, the world was not the same anymore; it had become global and I have seen several bilingual books emerging from different parts of the world and even some trilingual anthologies.
We began to put together strategies for the book and finally, voila, here it is standing proud among other similar ideas for multilingual books. Thanks to Alexander Deriev and Lars Ahlström, the translator, this book is not only possible but is a reality today. Who would have thought that possible five years ago! I’m proud of belonging to Alexander Deriev’s list of writers, as are many others who have published with him like Per Wastberg, John Kinsella, Dipak Mazumdar, Les Murray and many more. He is not only a member of the literati but is also a publisher-hunting- for-poets-around-the-world!
Buy the book here and let me know what you think! http://arsint.com/book_m_g.html
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer has been a summer of surprises and big changes. Not only have I moved (or at least I will be living between two zip codes, Michigan and Washington D.C.) but also I got a new desk, which is quite modern, quite small, and greatly practical. The best desk I have had in years! I’m sure I will be able to keep up with the fierce discipline of my many new media writer friends. The distractions are many but I’m still good with deadlines and that is my best friend these days.
Many of you have written to asking me an update on my Canto General translation from Tupelo Press. I received a very kind letter of explanation from my publisher posted for all those who supported the project. I would like to share the update and also my thanks for your interest and support! Below you can also find one of the photos of Neruda’s last residence. The photo credit of from Hector Goonzalez de Cunco. I will share more photos of multiple visits to Neruda’s house in Isla negra and other of his houses in a facebook page I started for this publication. Go and like the page if you can.
The first volume of the book will be coming out mid Fall 2015 and I cannot express how excited I am! As you know Tupelo Press is a press with an incredibly hard working team and they are busy year round with literary projects that increase the interest for literature, poetry, translations and more. If you have the time, take a look at their pages and authors! I will try to keep a weekly update from now on about the detailed work and photos surrounded the production of this book starting with the collaboration with my editor – I will chronicle the story of this translation. I’m very glad to finally reach the point of getting the book ready.
Here is the new update on the translation of the Canto by Neruda from my publisher!
To Our Dear Backers,
Here at Tupelo Press Mission Control, we are hard at work putting the finishing touches on the Canto General translation drafts, though clearly we're not going to make our April release projection!
Delays are usual in publishing, and especially in nonprofit publishing. In addition to polishing the translations, we're also in the process of determining whether this project will be even more exciting if published in two volumes (with a slipcover for both), or in specially-designed editions, one for each Canto.
Either way, we'll have all our decisions made, the drafts finished, and on to the designer by summer's end, and first volume(s) out in mid-autumn.
Meanwhile, so many thanks to all for your continued support. This will be by far the largest publication project we (or most any independent publisher) has ever produced--and one of the most important--and we hope to have spectacular results!
We'll start sending out volumes to backers (whether the first of two, or the individual Cantos) as they come back from the printer.
All our best regards,
Jeffrey Levine, Tupelo Press
Two Mini Reviews: Apocalipsis con Amazonas by Jorge Etcheverry and Heart. Wood. poems by Eric Torgersen.
As one of my new year’s resolution list, I will deliver all those mini-reviews I promised to friends and readers who often send their work to me in order to get some feedback. It is difficult to get a review for all those books pouring in, but here are some books that caught my attention.
I’m late in comparing with the date of the book publication, in delivering but not that much if you consider a review is valuable at any time. We are so incredibly pressed to get some feedback for our work as soon as the book comes out that often we forget that a review is important also, no matter when it comes out. I had one of my own books reviewed literally years after it was published.
My thanks to the writers who always think that I would have something interesting to them to say, especially to Eric Torgersen and Jorge Etcheverry, who are always updating with fresh material. I will be posting more of these in my blog when time allows it.
Apocalypses with Amazons
Reviewed by Mariela Griffor
Author: Jorge Etcheverry
Publisher: Editorial Antares: http://www.glendon.yorku.ca/antares/english/editorial.html
I like very much the tension of existential discharge contained in the pages. I like the feelings of anxiety and brusque, or better said the brutal, mental fracture that comes from some of the short stories in this collection. The shortest of these stories, and the one that bears the title of the book itself, Apocalypses with Amazons, is my favorite. It took me years to understand the work of Etcheverry and I’m not saying this for it being a lesser qualification but rather for its surrealistic complexity. It is representative of the works of the School of Santiago, created in the sixties whose slogan was “Here exists neither poetry nor prose: here exists only The Word.” A linguistic slogan that included later on the cultural class of exile.
Apocalypse of the Amazons is different from other books of magic realism coming from Chilean expat Etcheverry, it is precise and chooses his characters carefully. He portrays the feminine characters as strong, attractive, smart, vulnerable and as intellectuals. His feminine characters never subdue. Many times these women are stronger, wiser.
I’m not surprised that an author like Etcheverry had strong political views that creates an environment where reality is ‘fixed’ into an ulterior development where human values prevail, where human rights are saved and preserved, instead of the despots profiting of a modern society. Like searching for a perfect escape from a sordid reality, Etcheverry tries to ‘fix’ the outcome from the negative impact that a world that excludes so many, caused in the mind and soul of its members. The human spirit prevails in wonderful trips as “a bird that crossed the sky of fire, casting over the world the texts of what is called the operative Magic.”
Despite the criticism and cynicism from the diary of Alberto Magno, the lines of “his” literary Alberto Magno, the lines of his faithful belief in humanity pour out in some of the lines: “And like this as a species of spiritual animal, overfed and misbalanced, impregnated over all existence in the Middle Ages, amplified to the square by technology that ended demonstrating that the ideas, religions and beliefs flowing over the grey world that doesn’t produce only dragons burning the skies, but also other entities, Greta Garbo and I leave the reality flow according our desires …”.
Read this book, it will make you think. You will enjoy the reading. Etcheverry writes in this book about themes that are important, such insertion, acclimatization, dislocation, language decay and the search for the common in us. We share with him his love for the continent. His search, is a continuous search for making people from “the other Americas” more recognizable to the North.
Jorge Etcheverry, born in 1945, is a former member of the School of Santiago and Grupo América from the 1960s. He lives in Canada and has published poetry, prose, criticism and various articles in several countries. His books of poetry are: The Escape Artist (1981); La Calle (1986); The Witch (1986); Tánger (1991); A Vuelo de Pájaro (1998); Vitral con Pájaros (2004); and Reflexión Hacia el Sur (2004). Lately, he has appeared in anthologies such as Cien microcuentos chilenos (2002); Los poetas y el general (2002); Anaconda, Antología di Poeti Americani (2003); El lugar de la memoria. Poetas y narradores de Chile (2007); Latinocanadá (2007); Poéticas de Chile. Chilean Poets (2007); 100 cuentos breves de todo el mundo (2007); and The Changing Faces of Chilean Poetry: A Translation of Avant Garde, Women's, and Protest Poetry (2008).
Reviewed by Mariela Griffor
Author: Eric Torgersen
Publisher: Word Press (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-wood-eric-torgersen/1111096452)
Poets often ponder about death. We make death a friend when we try to understand her. We go back to her to pick on its mystery but we leave, we always leave until one day she will get us with such force we will not return.
Torgersen’s book is a reflection on past and present times in a collection of free verse and structured forms that gives a clear idea of his life. Some of the poems are early work never published in book form until now. The strong, forceful, youthful view of the landscape that he inhabits offers us a window into a nostalgic look of a youth that escapes the body but never the mind. In the mind resides the tenderness, the sweetness, the enchantment of earlier years. He looks back and enjoys the regrets into that past that was immersed in youthful spirit full of astonishment in front before the nature, man and its surrounding.
The poems, centered in current years, are severe; he examines the virtues of life and death with interior peace that invites the reader to get close to his revelations and without anxiety, but only reflection, as in the poem ‘I will die in Lake Superior’.
I will die in Lake Superior on an August night,
naked because it is dark
and I ran out of the sauna, all rosy and wrinkly
in the candle light of the cabin,
though in the dark outside no one will see,
not even I in my last moments-
thin moon, stars all blazing and boiling
like I’m Vincent van Gogh,
but I will have left my glasses in the bathroom
I’ll feel that first chill grip as I hit the water,
and think, “My heart is pounding,
as it should be”; then I’ll dive in and go under
once, again, and a third time
as the pounding grows, as if something
really large mean to be let in.
I will turn to go back, but the dim light of the cabin
will get farther and farther away,
as if I were carried off by some huge wave.
Torgersen is a genuine writer, always searching for truths that impregnate the page. If you read this book, you will not be disappointed. You will be frequently reminded of this poem where he describes night, night in the cabins surrounded by the chant of the cicadas when it is not winter.
Michigan landscape is everywhere in the book but it is always the humanity of its habitants that takes the center stage like in The Horses:
on learning late, of the death of Nicolas Born
The Horses, Nicolas. Once we all drove
out through corn to ride the rented horses.
You had it first, the horse whose legs
years had locked in a stolid walk;
you kicked and pulled. You made good jokes.
We circled you on our spry horses, laughing.
No rider, afraid of a gallop, I gave up
my good horse then and you rode her back
to the barn in style. Long past that circle
of laughing friends I ride the slow horse home.
He highlights the connection between humans and horses, while putting that experience into our own interaction with the page. The language is carved by the motion of riding and the emotion of a long lost childhood.
Eric Torgersen has published six books and chapbooks of poetry, two of fiction, and a full-length study of Rainer Maria Rilke and Paula Modersohn-Becker. He also translates German poetry, especially that of Rainer Maria Rilke and Nicolas Born. He was born in Huntington, New York. He has a BA in German Literature from Cornell University; after two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, he earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. He retired in the spring of 2008 after 38 years of teaching writing at Central Michigan University. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with his wife, the quilt artist Ann Kowaleski. He’s available for workshops and readings.
Name: Mariela Griffor