Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Sullivan poem

Today, I had the thought to do a blog. As you can see. I was actually supposed to do about a dozen other things, but as usual, I wanted to do something else. It could've been coffee deprivation, I suppose. But after all the trouble of finding the right place, and setting up, I seem to have forgotten what I was supposed to say. Is this much of a loss?

After all, I created this page to have a place where I didn't need to have something to say.

It isn't a stream of consciousness. While writing, I always find myself editing what I've written, deleting, rewriting and thinking things over and over again. Sometimes just to find the exactly right word. Sometimes changing entire paragraphs and rearranging the things on a page. It was no different when I was restricted to pen and paper at school - why not now, with the incredible speed and smoothness of a keyboard that turns pixels on and off on the screen?

One of the things I am supposed to do (now) is translating a poem.

I waded through a dozen poems, several books, many pages on the web but nothing spoke to me and said: Do Me. Like Alice in Wonderland and her magical potions? But no. And one day (last year, actually, if I'm totally honest, and why should I not?) I stumbled upon a poem by Rosemary Sullivan: "The Universe Is As Close As the Veins In Your Neck" and knew that I might translate this one.

It flows nicely. The words seem to say nothing and everything, at once. It could be about love, or about death, or about existentialism, and as I have flirted with that particular line of thought these days, or perhaps because of some completely different reason, I wanted to translate it.

Then, of course, it was written by a woman. Somehow I wanted - no, somehow I did not want to deal with something written by a man at this point. Why? Simple prejudice, I suppose. Although I should say that I shied away from one text by a woman, well written, because of its unashamed sensuality. Not sexuality as such, but the thought of translating it, thinking about it, writing about it and analysing it both by myself and in the group, was disturbing all the same.

This is not the case with the Sullivan poem. It could be about love, as much as anyting might be, but love in the abstract. It is very much a poem of the mind, rather than the body. Or is it only the way I read it?

Rosemary Sullivan: The universe is as close as the veins in your neck

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