måndag 28 september 2015

Nostalgic sweetness - a taste of victory

  A couple of the judges looked upon the third heat and said it's the best in the competition. I'm not sharing their point of view. I'm also much surprised with the jury's choice of winner, even though it was a close call. They rated Edward Hirsch poem "Cotton Candy" as number 1. I would probably have put him in fourth place. My favourite was Nomad heart, by Paula Meehan. Edward's win gives Team Chicago a big lead before the last stretch.

Cotton Candy, by Edward Hirsch

We walked on the bridge over the Chicago River
for what turned out to be the last time,
and I ate cotton candy, that sugary air,
that sweet blue light spun out of nothingness.
It was just a moment, really, nothing more,
but I remember marveling at the sturdy cables
of the bridge that held us up
and threading my fingers through the long
and slender fingers of my grandfather,
an old man from the Old World
who long ago disappeared into the nether regions.
And I remember that eight-year-old boy
who had tasted the sweetness of air,
which still clings to my mouth
and disappears when I breathe.


  Johan Alfredsson, member of the jury, shared these thoughts with me. 
"I believe this group of poems were the best in competition, and I specially liked "Cotton Candy". The author has chosen a delicate motif, the memory of a past childhood. And he succeeds in keeping the balance without ending up in clichés. By using the cotton candy as the main image in the poem he reflects gently over the transience of life."



Team Score Heat 3 Total Score
Chicago 8 19
Canada 4 14
Poland 6 13
Latvia 2 12
Ireland 5 12
Iraq 1 10
China Blue 3 7


Finally Heat 4

Creature comforts / written by Inga Abele, Team Latvia

I am a city creature, digging dens in the damp air of
streets and harbors, where it smells of river boats and
foreign love, if love can be called foreign.
Warm crumbling lairs, that fall to ruin just beyond me,
taking away the opportunity for a stranger to
touch me on the shoulder.
I am a city creature, screened in ephemeral dances by bare
lantern light, when it’s night and the rain has subsided.
Plums and rye bread abraded on cobblestones, so the
nectar floods over fingernails – every paving stone in
Riga shines in our juice, city dwellers.


[To Agnes Bernelle, 1923-1999] / written by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Team Ireland

There is no beast I love better than the spider
That makes her own new centre every day
Catching brilliantly the light of autumn,

That judges the depth of the rosemary bush
And the slant of the sun on the brick wall
When she slings her veils and pinnacles.

She crouches on her knife edge, an ideogram combining
The word for tools with the word for discipline,
Ready for a lifetime of cold rehearsals;

Her presence is the syllable on the white wall,
The hooked shadow. Her children are everywhere,
Her strands as long as the railway-line in the desert

That shines one instant and the next is doused in dust.
If she could only sing she would be perfect, but
In everything else she reminds me of you.


The ghost hand / written by Susan Deer Cloud, Team Chicago

Sunrises when you opened eyes,
      stared at river stone fireplace
some former owner’s dream …

After you moved into the cottage,
      built a fire in it, the rooms
billowing with phantoms of smoke …

And so placed many colored candles
      on mantle slab, hearth, where before
you placed logs, twigs, crumpled poems …

Awake in the witching hours,watching
      tiny wavering fires, your numbness
freezing into sleep …

Dawns of divorce, waking, 
      not wishing to wake,
face a pond of tears …


Hon / skriven av Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar, Team Poland

Hon som är ett hus i mig med dubbel hud av glas.
Som lägger mig mot läpparna likt en frusen flod.
Slickar svett från stenarna.

Hon som har läppar som vitnat av anstormande kastbyar,
i ögonen stålljus, bort till horisonten.
Hon som har vargens päls tar livet av sina skadskjutna
                                                             ungar, tittar på
hur jag kryper ned i vattnet –

det skarpa skinande havet slår mot stranden
och splitter av liv fastnar som skum på graniten;
minnet, denna bränning, bär inom sig lösa
                                            ruiner: spillror, skärvor,


Hymns to pain, part II / written by Nazik al-Malaika, Team Iraq

Why does this pain come to us?
Where does it come from?
From old it has dwelled in our dreams
and nurtured our rhymes.
For we are a thirsting mouth
by which, thriving, we are satisfied.

At last, we dragged it to the lake,
shattered it and scattered it to the waves,
leaving neither a sigh nor a tear,
thinking it would no longer afflict our smiles with grief
or hide the bitter wails behind our songs.

Then we received a lovely scented rose,
sent by loved ones from across the seas.


Collar Bones / written by Sue Sinclair, Team Canada

Why do they make us think
of birds, the spreading of wings?

Only the mind is more in love
with flight. Desire

rises, hinges at the throat:
here is where we glimpse

one another, in the aerodynamics
of bones that skim the neckline, glide

from shoulder to shoulder, two halves
of a single bone healed

separately. Through us
they wish for a lost

amplitude, hint at a symmetry
that might have been.


The heart of the plateau / written by Zhang Zhen, Team China Blue

The encounter has shocked me
Seawater flows through my body
Prostrate with my limbs sprawled out
I feel that I am playing chess
With the mountain’s shadow
Have met my match
And am heading for a checkmate

Remoteness is like a disease
But remote places no longer appear
I install my heart in clumps of green algae
As horses’ hooves ring out all at once
On the tip of this lax tongue
Boats and nets are in full bloom under the sky

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