Friday, June 8, 2007

Poets in the Galleries: This is a textpiece

This is Textpiece 1
"Textpiece" is a new, short, species of literature-gathering object specific to museums, galleries and other sites that are dedicated to exhibiting works of art. It is a specific print-object that collects diverse literary writing in relation to exhibitions. This print piece is not quite a ‘journal’, a ‘magazine’, a ‘chapbook’, or any other in print genres already named and recognized. Nor is it a gallery guide, though for the time of the exhibition Textpiece 1 will made available to be experienced in the gallery space. It is, well, a textpiece: without the capital letter, it is the noun describing the type of work; but we have also used Textpiece as the name of this very first textpiece. This is the first textpiece we know of, not quite "artwork for the page," but rather literary work for the gallery. All the writings appearing inside are previously unpublished work.


Tatlong kalahati:
At saan sila magkikita
Kung hindi sa gitna?
Ang kabilugan nito
Ay hindi kabuluan--
Isang tanong na walang kasagutan

Katutubo, Indio, Native
Three halves: A trinity less than three, almost two, more than and always one.
Precolonial, Colonial, and Postcolonial: the same space, the same body.
Devotee of Our Lady of Hybridity and vastly impure, I step into the streets of New York, and reclaim the self that lurks just beneath. What better thing to do than to be a magus in reverse and journey West, to deliver myself from myselves? Here in a frontier society unsettled by custom, perhaps the ancient within me would rise to reaffirm its existence, if only to protest.

Modern seems ancient, passé, and ancient is far off, gleaming like a distant star about to be named.
At this very minute, throughout the city, people are assassinating their old selves in preparation for their new personas. Entering this realm, I redeem my voyage. I do so as Magellan and his slave Enrique, seeing in other faces my own, hearing in their voices the murmurs of our common dead. When they speak, they sing, evoking the sense of the sacred, that sense that accompanies, is integral to, and without which that voyage of circumnavigation, without equal, would merely be the clock’s passage: childhood.
Elsewhere is an altogether intriguing country: it does not issue passports, has no government, is not on any map, and whose citizens, an odd and varied lot, are Everywhere. Every Elsewherean can be in several places at the same time; speak more than one language; consider several, even contradictory, trains of thought simultaneously, and navigate a river with distinct currents, at once glorious and dark, smooth and tricky, with rapids, unexpected twists and beautiful vistas, with benign and dangerous creatures. Ambiguity looms as both a permanent feature and saving grace, where my hybrid self predisposes me to curiosity and openness, reducing nationalisms to pieces of paper and borders to arbitrary fictions.
I never was a tourist, but a time traveler.

– Luis H. Francia

Brisbane, 1975

(i) Bowler – opening spell

All morning, this blistering heat,
oppressive even for one
black as me, and accustomed
to Caribbean sun.

My tail is up, and even
off a short run-up, I am
a rainbow of fire and movement.

Still, not a wicket.
My in-swinger is hostile
and I haven’t even rolled
my sleeves up yet.
The batsmen can’t touch me.
I have them beaten – all ends up.

In the stands, the sea of faces
burned to a pink under their wide-brim hats
is quiet and confused pretending
they haven’t heard
a fine edge, or detected the trapped
stance in the thud of an L.B.W.

(ii) Umpire

I couldn’t care less how much
this savage hoots and points his finger,
how many screamed howzats?!
at what he thinks is an out.
If this boy thinks he will win
an appeal from me with anything
less than licking the stumps
clean out of the ground,
then this black fool
must be more stupid than I first thought.

This is our game. We taught
these monkeys how to be dignified
how to play the gentleman’s sport,
how to be civilized. They’d still
be in trees if not for us.

Now they want to change the game,
embarrassing our batsmen,
coming to the wicket top buttons
undone, trying to frighten us
with their shiny black chests.

I will show them. We are still
their patrons in this game.
Good white wickets are not
this nigger’s for the taking.

(iii) Bowler – just before noon

So apparently, even an obvious
top edge is not enough
to give me my due.

I’m going back to the long run-up.
To hell with strategy and field placement.
I’m not even looking for the L.B.W.
or the catch amongst the slips and gullies.

This next delivery will be pressure;
from wide in the crease
up and in at the hapless right-hander.
Let me show these fuckers
who is Man here.

If I can’t get the wicket,
I’ll take the white boy’s head.

– Roger Bonair-Agard

Imperfect Utterances

no no, sino…

no no, sino sí

no sí, sino…

no sí, sino no

si no sí, no

si no sí, nono

si sí, no

si no, sí

sino, no

¿sí, no?

¿no, sí?

si nono, no

si nono, sí

si no nono, sí

si no nono, no

¿nono, no?

¿nono, sí?

no no no, sino nono

no sí no, sino sino


not no, but… / not no, but yes / not yes, but… / not yes, but no / if yes isn’t the case, then no / if yes isn’t the case, then the ninth / if yes is the case, then no / if no is the case, then yes / if it’s yes, then no / if it’s no, then yes / fate, no / indeed, no? / no, or indeed? / if the ninth, then no / if the ninth, then yes / if it’s not the ninth, then yes / if it’s not the ninth, then no / the ninth, no? / the ninth, indeed? / not two nos, but the ninth / not yes and no, but fate / fate

– Mónica de la Torre


"Change it, go farther,"
a savvy friend advises,
and I imagine my name
launched to pursue

rainbows of renown
too far to illumine
my gray marginality,
and oh how delicious

this rich visibility
in eyes and minds
forever forbidden
to my obsolete name.

– Julio Marzán

Mother Tongue

I can hear it.
In every utterance, in every breath
Every syllable, the sound each moment breathes.
I can smell it. Taste it. I can see it.
The whole house amidst converging winds.

I can’t read it. Not the country
The city, or its streets
Filled with men, their names painted
Across a sky, afforded with every color a marketplace creates.
I can’t write it. Can’t read it, or pronounce correctly
The sounds. Her words.
Or that saying she whispered before sleep,
That morning smile she woke me with.

I can’t write it. But I can feel it. I can imagine it.

I can picture it.

That hallway where all winds converge as they enter its corridor
Meeting the sounds of all my mothers laughing, singing
Praying. I can’t write them.

– Sarah Husain

– go, then, wanderer, go again, get along and gaze again, laughing bard now relishing your triumphant fall, architect of hallucinatory dances across tongues, stand and gaze again across the bloodied cities, across the desolate fields, across the forlorn landscapes strewn with the cadavers of your brethren and the corpses of the silences you long cultivated, go and climb the steel webs of the bridges and stand alone on the bridges and raise again your arms atop the bridges and cry again, alas, again: I will incite the fears and ignite more follies and drown in the flames of the strangest visions: I am a contortionist in the circus of multicolored words, a proud puncturer of all the tyrants’ and all the empires’ balloons, tracing and spreading again with ashes the liberated paths: all my eyes, all my selves launched across continents, across the seasons, across the elements – winds, fires, earths, waters: I have chased the perversions of the linguistic bestiaries, I have erected the fabulous alphabets and the secret temples of schizophrenic magnificence: here I stand again and I burn, step by step I build, step by step I destroy, one step build, one step burn, forging the name, the restless, traceless name, estranged from the tales of others and other tongues, exiled from the lands of others and others’ faiths, staring at the emaciated bodies scattered across the horizons: go wanderer, stand somber on the tops of the skyscrapers and gaze again, revered lord of the lost ones, mystic without a god, and peer silently into this and all the other stories you have collected, stand and twist and turn and hold aloft your arms and whirl again and with you the roofs of the buildings and the steeples and the domes, and the sounds of the streets and the roars of the passing cars and the whispers even of the secret-tellers hiding in the alleys, and the phantasmagoric play of the lights and the limbs and the letters thrust into the skies, see the cars go around the square, see the woman behind the wheel lost in her daze, the boy leaning against the lamppost watching, see the forbidden embraces and the murdered lovers, see the steps, the sounds of the steps they take, one by one by one, every day the motion of their lives, the moments of their lives, your lives, ponder in your sadness the fate of us, here below begging for the mercies of the gods: in your stillness forge forth and praise and abolish again the songs and the cantos and the sonnets and the rubais, usher in the overcoming, the final overcoming eradicating all – discourses, tales and myths, all prophecies even and all prayers, all wholeness and all fragments: and fashion the new vision, fashion the new refuge, the rites and the rituals, the new worlds, forging a new grammar of becoming, erasing the layers of slashes to your skin, the layers and layers of the marks of victorious assassins of your name naming you once again, issue the great proclamation, this the great spectacle, at last, of the poet prophet in the public square, unleash your ferocious laughter, the numbing cant, this great cry of otherworlds, otherplaces and othertimes: I walk along the cities’ dark alleys, the one abode I have known, the cherished sanctuary, clamoring: go now impertinent fool, stand and peer again into the abyss, at the edge of the abyss peer into the hearts of the truths before the fall, and venerate again your silence, cultivate your silence, protect your silence, animate your silence, defend your silence, hug your silence, yes hug it, kiss it, love it, roll around with your silence and caress it and kiss it again and hug it and fuck it, fuck your silence, and throw your silence defiant vessel of words and worlds at the disfigured visage of a humanity that, frankly, you’re having a real hard time standing, mister launcher of new eras, and whisper again, through the same pregnant pauses and gazes, on this and all the sidewalks of the cities you have longed to abandon, the cities you have dreamt of forgetting, the cities you have forsaken, real and imagined cities even, unreal cities and those known cities of sand and dust, with the vestiges of the new alphabets you have pieced together from the ravages illuminating the unmarked roads: in the new traces and the perpetual presence, I mask the absolute absence that I generate, that I cultivate, that I preach: said the traveler on the edge of the door on this path: all words are to me an enigma – and the timbre of his murmur, and the grain of his voice, were no less a mystery: go wanderer, go then and recite the verses of your Silence, the first through the last, go and sing once again the anthems of the poets – the only friends who will walk with you through the ruins: with the gaze again and silence, breathing, still, I write:

– Amir Parsa

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