Mario Santiago Papasquiaro | Infrarrealist Manifesto & Selected Poems

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Mario Santiago Pasquiaro

INFRARREALST MANIFESTO

 

WHAT DO WE PROPOSE?
NOT MAKING ART INTO A CAREER
SHOWING THAT EVERYTHING IS ART AND ANYONE CAN
MAKE IT
CONCERNING OURSELVES WITH “INSIGNIFICANT”
THINGS / WITH NO INSTITUTIONAL VALUE / PLAYING / ART
SHOULD EXIST IN LIMITLESS AMOUNTS / AFFORDABLE
FOR EVERYONE, AND IF POSSIBLE, MADE BY EVERYONE

 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

ATTACKING ART / ATTACKING EVERYDAY LIFE
(DUCHAMP) AT A TIME THAT SEEMS ALMOST ENTIRELY
CLOSED TO PROFESSIONAL OPTIMISTS
TRANSFORMING ART / TRANSFORMING EVERYDAY LIFE
(OURSELVES)
CREATIVITY / THE OUTSIDERS’S LIFE AT ANY COST
(MOVING OUR HIPS TO THE PRESENT WITH EYES
BLINKING
FROM THE AIRPORTS OF THE FUTURE)
AT A TIME WHEN ASSASSINATIONS HAVE BEEN
DISGUISED AS SUICIDES

 

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

 

TURNING CONFERENCE ROOMS INTO SHOOTING
GALLERIES
(THE CARNIVAL WITHIN THE CARNIVAL / AS DEBRAY
WOULD PUT IT?)

 

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

 

BEETHOVEN, RACINE & MICHAELANGELO AREN’T THAT
USEFUL ANYMORE
AMPHETAMINES MAKE BETTER FOOD:
SOUND BARRIERS LABYRINTHS OF SPEED (OH JAMES
DEAN!) ARE
BEING BROKEN SOMEWHERE ELSE

 

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

 

LIFTING PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR DEPENDENCE &
PASSIVITY
LOOKING FOR UNPRECEDENTED FORMS OF
INTERVENTION & DIRECTION IN THE WORLD
DEMYSTIFYING / TURNING INTO DISSIDENTS
FOR US NOTHING HUMAN IS FOREIGN (COOL) FOR US
NOTHING UTOPIAN IS FOREIGN
(SUPERCOOL)

 

==============================

 

NOW MORE THAN EVER, THE PROBLEM OF ART CAN’T
BE UNDERSTOOD AS AN INTERNAL WAR BETWEEN
FACTIONS / BUT ABOVE ALL AS A TACIT (BUT ALMOST
OPEN) WAR BETWEEN THE ONES WHO CONSCIOUSLY
OR UNCONSCIOUSLY SIDE WITH THE SYSTEM AND
TRY TO HOLD ONTO EXTEND IT / AND THE ONES WHO
CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY WANT TO BLOW IT UP

 

………………………………………………………………………

 

ART IN THIS COUNTRY HASN’T GONE BEYOND A
TECHNICAL WORKSHOP FOR DECORATIVELY EXERCIZING
MEDIOCRITY

 

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

 

“ONLY MEN FREE OF ALL BONDS CAN CARRY THE FIRE
FAR ENOUGH” ANDRÉ BRETON

 

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

RETURNING TO ART THE IDEA OF A CONVULSIVE &
PASSIONATE LIFE

 

—————————————————————————————-

 

CULTURE ISN’T IN BOOKS OR PAINTINGS OR STATUES IT’S
IN THE NERVES / IN THE NERVES’ FLUIDNESS
THE CLEAREST PROPOSITION: AN INCARNATE CULTURE
/ A CULTURE IN THE FLESH, IN SENSITIVITY (THE OLD
DREAM OF ANTONIN ARTAUD)

 

5555555555555555555555555555555555555555555

 

EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS:
OUR SPHERE OF ACTION / AND THE FRENZIED SEARCH
FOR WHAT DOESN’T EXIST YET

 

………………………………………………………………………

 

OUR PURPOSES IS (TRUTH) PRACTICAL SUBVERSION

 

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

 

EXAMPLE OF TOTAL ART
TOTAL SCULPTURE (THAT MOVES): A DEMONSTRATION
OF 10,000 T0 20,000 PEOPLE SUPPORTING THE ELECTRICAL
WORKERS’ UNION
TOTAL MUSIC: A MUSHROOM TRIP THROUGH THE
SIERRA MAZATECA
TOTAL PAINTING: CLAUDIA KERIK BACKWARDS &
FORWARDS / I INSIST: BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS
TOTAL POETRY: THAT INTERVIEW DISSEMINATED BY
TELEPATHY OR JUST THE FLICK OF MY (AFRICAN LION’S)
HAIR AND ITS FULL ELECTRICAL CHARGE

 

333333333333333333333333333333333333

 

WORLDS MOVEMENTS PEOPLE THAT INTEREST ME
NICANOR PARRA CATULO QUEVEDO LAUTRÉAMONT
MAGRITTE DE CHIRICO ARTAUD VACHÉ JARRY BRÉTON
BORIS VIAN BURROUGHS GINSBERG KEROUAC KAFKA
BAKUNIN CHAPLIN GODARD FASSBINDER ALAIN TANNER
FRANCIS BACON DUBUFFET GEORGE SEGAL JUAN RAMÍREZ
RUIZ VALLEJO CHÉ GUEVARA ENGELS “THAT MASTER
OF SARCASM” THE PARIS COMMUNE THE SITUATIONIST
INTERNATIONAL THE EPIC OF THE CUBAN COMMUNIST
PARTY’S SHIPWRECKS (I FORGOT): HIERONYMUS
BOSCH (ESSENTIAL) WILHELM REICH THE MYSTICAL
PORNOGRAPHY OF CHARLES MINGUS THE MULTICOLORED
EROTICA OF TOM WESSELMAN JOHN CAGE JULIAN BECK
JUDITH MALINA & HER LIVING THEATRE (AND FINALLY) THE
MARQUIS DE SADE HÉCTOR APOLINAR ROBERTO BOLAÑO
JOSÉ REVUELTAS (AND HIS DISCOVERY THAT DIALECTICS
SOMETIMES ALSO WALKS LIKE A CRAB) JUDITH GARCÍA
CLAUDIA SOL (AND EVEN ON CLOUDY DAYS) CLAUDIA SOL

 

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

 

WE CAN SHOOT TWO REVOLVERS AT ONCE / SAID
BUFFALO BILL MORE THAN ONCE

STUPIDITY ISN’T OUR FORTE

(ALFRED JARRY DIXIT)

 

 

***

 

 

ALREADY FAR FROM THE ROAD

To the Memory of  Infraín 
 

                                                                      Vibrations

                                                               Vibrations – whips
                                                    1 sound comes from the shadow
                                                              quickly forms 1 sphere
                                                                           1 farm
                                                                        1 group
                                                                      1 armada
                                                            1 universe of Universes

                                                                                 Henri Michaux

 

1

Some grubby pants & death in the chest
              Right on man!
I’ll see you there by the wall
/ just past the loading zone /
winds crystallizing on the left
fins of the dust : your fins
1 oasis harpooning the dryness in us
In the daughter of your eye / the graveyard
 : Mezcalito casting posies :
Earth & its opposite : deer silent as the noises at their weddings
You shouldn’t go / but you should go

2

(In this shadow this strange fruit nestles
that’s the heart of the amphibious & precocious infrarrealist  becoming)

Sons of Pablo de Rokha are we
Before writing this / we were already flying
Then the continuum of the written was less patrolled 
Breath danced on the tip of the tongue
We transformed caressing the ayayay of every wound

We’re poets
Cymbals of the black sun
that magnetizes us

              

3

Neither lumpens nor proletarians
The wage-earning demigod
not 1 pen bursts in our abysses
 : The infra-dawns in the spider’s House of Usher :
Sweet clitoris plays paddle ball / embarks as for the 5 mountains in 2 
      lutes
At tender gallop & flowing mane
          Rubayat is in love
                 with
             Ramayana

4

Our tongue has been barbed
It’s watermelon / dripping deep-laughing vagrant
Adventure that’s torn open our abrasions 
What we’ve been we are in the crescendoing of echoes
          For such shoulders : such thighs
          For those ankles / those steps
Lessons of cleansing by the scalpel 

5

…Gray is the Theory…
Red the fuzz of Cannabis / The Wireless

6

The fight? / Against the power of phara$aical $ign$
                      (Mask vs Longhair)
10 years later we’re still being tribal
                      / lubricous wherever /
In Jalapa : Minneapolis : Iquitos : Ivry-sur-Seine : Gerona :
                      Glen & Canyon
Dogs inhabited by voices of the desert
Aztec priests blinded by the flame by the song of the body
& the flame of the body that’s the song 
                      Reality sandwiches!

7

The compost of language doesn’t germinate
if it isn’t in deeds already poverty incarnate 
The Marabu triumph in Nahuatl lands
—How much for the singing rabbit? / With wings?
—Happy Un-Birthday
Infrarealism isn’t some scouring-word
Our nights have anthologized us
Every texticle in its place / that could likely be our nomad’s miracle

8

It’s Zero Hour again
Jesús Luis scratches Songs for Thugs in its light
There are stars like there are desires
there are abysses & there are roads
The piranhas of the day before yesterday
are iguanas of the future
Waves : waves : waves of thirst

9

—What’d those tv employees say about us?
/ sons of the happy service & prosperous benefits /
—Oh Holy Satanic Laughter
—Billy Burroughs doesn’t even know?
              The lowlife jumps for joy
              / They’re fireflies in the dawn /
—Would that be 1 Sirian haiku?
1 water poet in the sierras?
Delirium’s orgasm?

10

Poetry-hendecasyllaboiler
   Edgar Allan & Black Sabbath’s little sister
      dickfaces & fucktrarians
        what a lot of trenches
          plowed in the guts of the guts

11

          I touch wind
: turgid chance :
Our root’s talking
/ not the laundering of Power & its ticket-booths
its taxes : its punishments : cynical grins : its wheezing of vanities /

12

Let Tin-Tan burn his zoot suit
The roads are full of other beings
          / not the cubicle or charge /
Remember body how much you lived
     How much gospel of the open heavens
          / Subterraneously : sovereignly /
Because it won’t be the fear of any fear
  that makes us set at half mast
  the igneous geyser of our indignation 

& this numeral 13 says it well:
Mexican poetry is divided in 2
Mexican poetry & infrarealism
          / 1 Tula River to stir up 

 

 

***

 

 

STATUS & REVOLUTIONS / COME & GO

 

Back then air was 1 crab sliding off the peak of my wave
the magnetism of pores / of streets / of shouts & drainpipes
had wrinkled like the so-called climate of feet upon necks
Swamps kept comfortably playing the moan’s pianola on our beds                                                                                                                      The moon oozed
They murdered guerrillas & dumped them in turbid rivers                                                                                                                                        Fog hovered—excessively
Spaceships swelled—with anthill diarrhea—our dreams
& even erogenous knife the gunned-down laughter of the dead

 

 

 

***

 

 

DID YOU NOTICE HOW THE
SEINE DOESN’T LOOK US IN

THE EYE ANYMORE & HOW
THEY FILLED THE GARE DE
LYON WITH PROPAGANDA
OFFERINGS $$ FOR THE
CAPTURE OF THE BAADER
MEINHOF GROUP?

FOR FRANK VERNAILLE & PAUL TILLMAN

 

I embrace my next suicide
as my sharpest poem
my consummate poem
In the Kenacort & Valium-10 seats
of 1 cut-rate at Barbès & Rochechouart
kissing with rabid-white rat kisses
Daisy’s flowering thighs /
mistress & queen of my laughter
& I embrace her : I embrace her
as 1 lush embraces his rotten liver
or 1exile from the Communist Party
embraces the voice that screamed: To hell with Marx
he’s washed in the piss of Utopia
& if they think the Bogart film’s damaged or washed out
or the magic flute of hash
can’t quite cover the swollen—bulging
galleon of my lungs in Spanish doubloons
What heroic act
what keatonesque face                                                                                                                                                                                             will be left us
except the 1 where we catalelepticoluciferianistically
position ourselves like corpses
on the salt-back of 1 imaginary railroad
& there / from that position / from that enclosure
walk our least gnarled paw
across the least melted spotlight of our eyes
until we can’t tell the hairs on our head from the hair on our balls
the eruptions of Mount Venus
from the lava of the Vigilant Mind
While we sing on empty stomachs
1 euphoric thick hot cacao of a tune: There’s no future                                                                                                                                      & plunge to the bottom
wells? / divers? / gold diggers? / brewers of what?

 

 

[TRANSLATOR’S NOTE.  In 1975, the Mexican poet Mario Santiago Papasquiaro (1953-1998) and Roberto Bolaño co-founded Infrarrealism, a poetry movement that drew inspiration from Dadaism, Surrealism, Stridentism, the Beats, and the contemporary Peruvian movement Hora Zero. Their project, at its core, was to explode literary, social, and political conventions through a radical reconception of the poetic imagination and the poetic life. As Bolaño put it in the “Infrarrealist Manifesto:” “The true imagination is the one that dynamites, elucidates, injects emerald microbes into other imaginations…Perception opens by way of an ethic-aesthetic taken to the extreme.” Bolaño’s novels (especially The Savage Detectives, in which Santiago appears as Ulises Lima) are now well known in the U.S. and stand as a profound testament to the extraordinary daring and energy of Infrarrealism. But Santiago’s large and astonishingly powerful body of work has yet to receive the recognition it deserves outside the Spanish-speaking world. To date, only Santiago’s first major poem, Consejos de 1 discípulo de Marx a 1 fanático de Heidegger (1975), has been translated into English. The poem presented here, “Already Far from the Road,” was originally published in the collection Beso eterno (Al Este del paraíso, 1995), and gives English readers their first taste of Santiago’s later work.  — Cole Heinowitz]

Commune Editions

 

 

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Roberto Bolaño and Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

 

On the poetry of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro is the pseudonym of José Alfredo Zendejas Pineda, the poet immortalized as Ulises Lima in Roberto Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives. Born in Mexico City in 1953, Santiago came of age during a period of acute political repression, artistic censorship, and violations of academic autonomy that culminated in the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, in which hundreds of student protesters and bystanders were killed and injured, and over a thousand were arrested. The literary society Santiago encountered when he began writing poems in 1974 was stultifying and conservative. Turning for inspiration to Surrealism, Stridentism, the Beats, and Latin American avant-gardes such as the Peruvian group, Zero Hour, Santiago and a handful of friends—among them Bolaño—founded the revolutionary poetry movement, Infrarrealism.

According to Santiago, the Infrarrealists were “[r]adical vagabonds, fugitives from the bourgeois university” and state-sanctioned culture. They wrote from the streets, not from drawing rooms and lecture halls. They attacked the institutionalized pieties of intellectual abstraction with raw physicality and psychedelic vision. They spoke the voice of the thief, the addict, the tramp, and the madman, not the voice of Octavio Paz or the PRI. As Santiago announced, “What was contained now overflows / what has been silenced is now spoken with the arms and legs / what was invisible now has weight and mass / it has the flavor of a mouth forced open / a flavor of armpits and trees / what was barely a voice is now voice, mouth and spit.” The Infrarrealists engaged in what Santiago referred to as “cultural terrorism,” sabotaging poetry workshops, interrupting the readings of prominent literati to declaim their own poems, smashing cocktail glasses, and starting fistfights. Infrarrealism was an all-out assault on the reigning literary establishment; its aim, in the words of its founders, was “to the blow the lid off the brains of official culture.”

Santiago’s early long poem, Advice from 1 disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger fanatic—now considered the canonical poem of Infrarrealism—seethes with the disillusionment and rage of a generation whose radicalism was violently suppressed, whitewashed, and narcotized by consumerism, a generation

 

…running from the tear gases
& billy clubs of the major avenues
of the major & minor stains that can’t be removed
with Pine Sol or the stroke of 1 Kleenex
those who ignore who they are / & don’t even want to know

 

Advice from 1 disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger fanatic rails against a world so in thrall to capitalism and the state that “any guy who screams Help!” has to dial “the 911 of his consciousness / to find out what brand of life or garbage it suits him to kiss / to spit out or to look at in horror.” Yet even at “the hour when the great political rebellions seem buried,” Santiago sees in this chaos “the instinct of the struggle for existence / that made Rosa Luxemburg euphoric” and insists that a “poem is occurring every moment,” even if  “nobody manages to decipher / how much of it is trash & how much miracle.”

For Santiago, the most outspoken and absolute of the Infrarrealists, the consequences of such a position were institutional ostracism and silencing. In the spirit of Bolaño’s Infrarrealist Manifesto (and its deliberate echo of Breton), Santiago decided to “drop everything” and “take to the road,” leaving Mexico in 1977. He was a thief in Paris, a fisherman on the coast of France, a political prisoner in Vienna, a day laborer in Spain, and a kibbutznik in Israel. When he returned home at the end of the decade, Mexican literary culture was unchanged, and as utterly hostile to Santiago as ever. He wandered through the labyrinths of Mexico City for days on end, always writing—in the margins of borrowed and stolen books, on the covers of magazines, on the edges of receipts, used napkins, and paper bags—on any available surface, however impermanent. As a result, much of Santiago’s work exists only in fragments. What mattered to Santiago was not the perfectly polished poem, the product of mechanical labor, the poem as commodity, but rather poetry as a way of moving through the world, a way of being that remained faithful to the extremes and vacillations of his existence, a poetry that embodied the first principle of Infrarrealism: that art and life, ethics and aesthetics, must be “one-single-thing.”

Over the years, Santiago’s poems trickled out in small infrarrealist magazines and anthologies. In the mid-nineties, he released the only two books to be published during his lifetime, Eternal Kiss(1995) and Swan’s Howl (1996), both under his own imprint, East of Eden. At the time of his death in 1998, he left behind over 2,000 poems. In 2008, the Fondo de Cultura Económica published an anthology including about one tenth of this work, Jeta de Santo [Holy Mask], edited by Mario Raúl Guzmán and the poet’s widow, Rebeca López. In 2012, Almadía released a collection of Santiago’s unpublished writings, Arte & Basura, edited by Luis Felipe Fabre. But the majority of Santiago’s work still remains unpublished. In fact, much of his writing may have yet to be discovered…

Cole Heinowitz

 

 

The Infrarrealists

 

Interview with Cole Heinowitz

Paul Murufas: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your history as a translator.

Cole Heinowitz: Raised in an English-speaking household in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood, and attending a grammar school where instruction was in Spanish and English, I grew up bilingual. I came to poetry in the early 1990s when the San Diego-Tijuana border was a kind of cauldron of art, punk rock, and radical activism. NAFTA was passed the year my first book of poetry came out. One of my roommates at the time built radios for the EZLN. Another was jailed for midwifery. We painted a mural of Subcomandante Marcos on the front of the co-op we ran. I studied writing at UCSD when Kathy Acker, Eileen Myles, and Carla Harryman taught there. One year, we staged Carla’s Memory Play in Jerry Rothenberg’s studio (Jerry stole the show as the corpse). The door was open and David Antin kept walking by and peering in. I can’t remember Rae Armantrout’s character, but I think she was there. Those are my beginnings as a translator.

PM: When did you first become interested in translating Santiago? 

CH: I’ve been teaching literature at Bard College for the last 12 years. Five years ago or so, Alexis Graman, a wonderful painter who was in one of my seminars, asked to do a tutorial on Mario Santiago Papasquiaro (aka Ulises Lima, from Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives). Through Juan Villoro, I made contact with Mowgli Zendejas, Santiago’s son, in Mexico City. He had just returned from studying Buddhism in Japan and was setting up the first free-form radio station in DF. Jeta de Santo, the beautiful posthumous collection of Santiago’s work, had just been published by the Fondo de Cultura Económica. I think Alexis and I managed to buy the last of the original print run. The major bookstores in DF don’t carry it—but they say it’s in stock so Spain doesn’t send them more copies. Alexis and I read and reread it and decided to translate the 1975 poem Santiago launched like a missile on the Mexican literary establishment, Advice from 1 disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger fanatic. It took us a year to translate. It’s insane.

PM: How did you link up with Commune Editions? 

CH: I met Juliana [Spahr] 15 years ago at a party in her backyard, back when she as living in Brooklyn. Five years later, we were on the Poetry Bus together in northern California. Then last year she got in touch to say she’d loved reading Advice and asked if I had other unpublished translations of Santiago’s work—especially any pieces where his politics were in the foreground.

PM: How did you select the various poems and works that make up Beauty Is Our Spiritual Guernica? How did you select the title? 

I picked the pieces where Santiago’s engagement with revolutionary politics is the most vivid and direct. The folks at Commune took the title from the poem “Dismirror.” That poem says a lot about Santiago’s radicalism.

PM: The poems seem to reflect an earlier period than the other Santiago poems I’ve read. What are the dates on these poems? How old would Santiago have been when he wrote these?

CH: Santiago was born in 1953 and Advice was his first published poem. He wrote consistently from 1975 to the year of his death in 1998, but no mainstream publisher wanted to touch him. He released two of his own books through his own imprint, East of Eden—one in 1995 and one in 1996. After Santiago’s death, when his widow Rebeca López and his friend Mario Raúl Guzmán went through his manuscripts to make the selections for Jeta de Santo, they chose 161 poems out of more than 1,500. Who knows how many more are scrawled in the margins of books Santiago borrowed or stole, on bar coasters, magazine covers, and paper bags. Many are probably in a landfill somewhere in the Sonora Desert. To date his poems with accuracy, you have to trace publication dates in obscure literary magazines, study the different color pens he used, or know former Infrarealists. Basically, the pieces in Beauty were written between 1976 and 1996.

PM: What are your favorite pieces in the collection? 

CH: That’s hard since the pieces in that collection are all among my favorites. I love the prose piece, “Second-Hand Heroes: Six Young Mexican Infrarealists”—a seething account of coming of age in Mexico City during the Tlatelolco Massacre:

In 1968: less than 15 years old / watching gringo shows on T.V. / soldiers in the streets / flesh and blood communists agitating everywhere. Onward from there: living experience, living nightmare, living utopia / Emotion, sensation, the certainty of diving into chasms every moment transforming / Radical vagabonds, fugitives from the bourgeois university (the mediocrity of teaching is the teaching of mediocrity)… You can smell the hot days coming, full of blood / There’s a revolution going on in our skins.

Phrases from other poems (“the gunned-down laughter of the dead;” “To hell with Marx / he’s washed in the piss of Utopia”) are permanently etched in my brain. But I guess my favorite pieces are the ones where critique, defiance, and humor emerge alongside an unexpected, almost clumsy, tenderness:

What heroic act

what keatonesque face

will be left us

except the 1 where we catalelepticoluciferianistically

position ourselves like corpses

on the salt-back of 1 imaginary railroad

& there / from that position / from that enclosure

walk our least gnarled paw

across the least melted spotlight of our eyes

until we can’t tell the hairs on our head from the hair on our balls

the eruptions of Mount Venus

from the lava of the Vigilant Mind

While we sing on empty stomachs

1 euphoric thick hot cacao of a tune: There’s no future

(from “Did you notice how the Seine doesn’t look us in the eye anymore & how they filled the Gare de Lyon with propaganda offering $$ for the capture of the Baader Meinhof Group?”)

PM: Infrarealism might have sunk into obscurity without Bolaño’s runaway fame train after his death. Is there an opening today for a new Infrarealism, or a permutation of it? 

CH: “I kill what I speak / :: Swan’s howl ::” That’s the last couplet of the poem “Swan’s Howl.” No, I don’t think there’s an opening today for a new Infrarealism, anymore than there’s an opening for a new surrealism. Infrarealism was born in an ecstasy of extinction. Nowadays, most writers who were working in Mexico during the 1970s and 1980s either memorialize it or dismiss it. On the other hand, Infrarealism doesn’t need a new opening—it’s already living inside us. As Santiago put it in “Ecce Homo,” “There’s no larva that hasn’t caught my virus.”

PM: Talk a little bit about these very visceral, passionate poems in Beauty. Santiago’s ability to supercharge language is something really rare in poetry today (at least for me). How was that for translating? And for reading in the original? 

CH: In the original Spanish, the first thing that comes through is the poems’ incredible velocity—both in their colloquial speech rhythms and in their rapid-fire images. Their physical force bursts through every channel. No matter how you translate the poems, that power inevitably comes through. The cultural and historical specificity of Santiago’s language—from his 1970s street-speak to his use of Nahuatl words—is the biggest challenge. I couldn’t have known, for example, that ornitorrinca used to be a way to describe an inexplicably attractive woman with a savage, almost ugly look. The word doesn’t exist in any Spanish dictionary—ornitorrinco means platypus, but it always has a masculine ending. Tlachiquero (the person who extracts the juice of the maguey from which pulque is made)—that was another impossible one to bring over into English. But these are words that most Spanish speakers wouldn’t know either…

PM: Do you have any translation work or creative writing that you’re working on now? 

CH: I’m working on a collected Santiago, which is an oxymoron because so much of what he wrote has disappeared. So it’s really not a collected, but the biggest selected works I can make out of what he published during his lifetime and the papers he left behind. I’m also working on a new play and a collection of poems addressed to people I have known in some way, both living and dead.

Source: Paul Murufas

 

 

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