Dispatches from Guadalajara


Please stay tuned for my video finale of Guadalajara.  It might be a couple of days because I have limited editing capabilities when it comes to my flip camera (unintentional shameless plug for capitalism).  Hopefully it will include highlights of the Lowriders of Los Angeles, Quebecois poetry, and quick clips of some panels.  This is an exciting fair to be at to experience the culture of Mexico as well as the thriving book business.  I know that BEA (the American version of the Guadalajara International Book Fair) is considering opening it up to the public and I don’t think it’s a bad idea.  Here , it’s a nine day affair, with only three days closed off from  the public (9-5 M-W is for the trade professionals).  At night the events are scheduled so that the public and professionals can attend which makes the events not only crowded but more diverse in perspective and more impacting.  With the public involved, it creates a lively and engaging book culture with writers, editors, publishers and readers feeling more connected.  Perhaps in the United States the exclusivity is related to, in part, class division.  Capitalism may not lend itself to opening the avenues between creativity and commerce as easily as it does in other economies.  But there certainly seems to be an advantage to presenting the opportunities for the public to listen to authors discuss their works, literary criticism and the place of literature in world culture today. 

It is not that the reading public has to be familiar with the authors either.  The last panel that I visited today was a panel that featured Austrian poets and their works being read (after the German version) in Spanish.  This was a two and a half hour panel that included contemporary Austrian writers that had no relation to today’s Mexican culture except for the author occasionally making it their subject.  Everyone who was there received a book of the contemporary Austrian poets’ works in Spanish, Escritos Contemporaneos De Austria, which was another stellar idea.   My favorite was by Chrisoph Janacs entitled, “Tortilla”:

el mundo es una rodaja
y ardiente

antorcha de la noche

Translated, I think this is:

the world is a wheel
and ardent

the torch of the night

This was the perfect introductory poem for me to translate (and I could be totally missing the nuances even though it only is constructed in fourteen words) as well as to represent my first visit to Guadalajara.  The other poem that I thought was wistful and perfect was also by Christoph Janacs entitled, “poetica”:

Porque crees que me has comprendido
has dejado de comprenderme.
Antonia Porchia

en este poema no hay
honmbres ni animales
ni cosas, en este poema
no hay sentencias
ni metaforas, en este poema
solo hay palabras que dicen:
en este poema no existe
nada salvo nosotros

I think this translates to:

in this poem there are no
men or animals
no things, in this poem
no sentences
or metaphors, in this poem
there are only the words that say:
in this poem there is only us.

Okay, that’s a really, really loose translation.  But it is something like that and the sentiment is what a poem should be.  Who knew I would have to come to Jalisco to appreciate Austrian poetry?

And I know that every day that I have been here, I have mentioned Sexto Piso.  They carried a muy bueno libro,  Charles Bukowski’s “Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip”, illustrated by Thomas Mueller.  I finally broke down and bought it because it is something that is easy enough for me to read while I try to learn Spanish.  It’s published by Nordica Libros who also has other wonderfully illustrated short stories, including Bartleby, the Scribner by Herman Melville and Victoria by Knut Hamsun.  And if these don’t make you believe that art and literature don’t mix besides in graphic novels, check this out:

Too good.  Adios!

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