Friday, October 07, 2005

ADM 105 Photography and text project

Here are the texts for the ADM105 Photography Narrative project. They're available here for a week or so and then the post will be taken down.

Charles Simic won the Griffin Poetry Prize for Poetry in 2005. Of his work the judges said

“Simic is something of a magician, a conjuror. Out of nothing it seems, out of thin air, the poems appear before our eyes. One apparently casual observation leads to another, and suddenly, exponentially, we are spellbound. It is a trick many have tried to imitate but few have achieved. At the centre of Simic’s art is a disarming, deadpan precision, which should never be mistaken for simplicity. Everything appears pared back to the solid and the essential, and it is this economy of vocabulary and clarity of diction which have made his poetry so portable and so influential wherever it is published. Simic is one of the few poets of our time to achieve both critical and popular acclaim; he is genuinely quotable, and it is entirely possible that some of his phrases and lines will lodge in the common memory. Without any hint of loftiness, then, and from a position which is entirely his own, Simic manages to speak to the many and not just the few.”

Charles Simic

The White Room

The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too.
I listened to the trees.

They had a secret
Which they were about to
Make known to me--
And then didn’t.

Summer came. Each tree
On my street had its own
Scheherazade. My nights
Were a part of their wild

Storytelling. We were
Entering dark houses,
Always more dark houses,
Hushed and abandoned.

There was someone with eyes closed
On the upper floors.
The fear of it, and the wonder,
Kept me sleepless.

The truth is bald and cold,
Said the woman
Who always wore white.
She didn’t leave her room.

The sun pointed to one or two
Things that had survived
The long night intact.
The simplest things,

Difficult in their obviousness.
They made no noise.
It was the kind of day
People described as "perfect."

Gods disguising themselves
As black hairpins, a hand-mirror,
A comb with a tooth missing?
No! That wasn’t it.

Just things as they are,
Unblinking, lying mute
In that bright light--
And the trees waiting for the night.

Peter Sirr

Peter Street

I’d grown almost to love this street,
each time I passed looking up
to pin my father’s face to a window, feel myself

held in his gaze. Today there’s a building site
where the hospital stood and I stop and stare
stupidly at the empty air, looking for him.

I’d almost pray some ache remain
like a flaw in the structure, something unappeasable
waiting in the fabric, between floors, in some

obstinate, secret room. A crane moves
delicately in the sky, in its own language.
Forget all that, I think as I pass, make it

a marvellous house; music should roam the corridors,
joy readily occur, St Valentine’s
stubborn heart come floating from Whitefriar street

to prevail, to undo injury, to lift my father from his bed,
let himclimb down the dull red brick, effortlessly,
and run off with his life in his hands.

Miroslav Holub
The Door

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

The Old Dream

(after Brecht)

The old dream again: the market’s collapsed,
I can’t shift a thing, the wolf
is lunging though the door.
Outside, the fishmonger is speaking in tongues

and my friends and relations look through me
as if they’d never seen me before.
The woman I slept with for seven years
nods politely on the landing, and passes me by.

I know all the rooms are empty, I know
the furniture has vanished, the mattress is slashed
and the curtains have been ripped from the windows.
No effort has been spared: I walk into the yard and see

my washing fluttering on the line, I know it well
though closer inspection reveals
a new patch here, an extra button there – it seems
I’ve moved. Someone else is living here now,

buttoning my shirt in the gloom, reaching
for my shoes. . .

(translated by Peter Sirr)

Bob Dylan

Man in the Long Black Coat

Crickets are chirpin’, the water is high,
There’s a soft cotton dress on the line hangin’ dry,
Window wide open, African trees
Bent over backwards from a hurricane breeze.
Not a word of goodbye, not even a note,
She gone with the man
In the long black coat.

Somebody seem him hanging around
At the old dance hall on the outskirts of town.
He looked into her eyes when she stopped him to ask
If he wanted to dance, he had a face like a mask.
Somebody said from the Bible he’d quote
There was dust on the man
In the long black coat.

Preacher was a talkin’, there’s a sermon he gave,
He said every man’s conscience is vile and depraved,
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it’s you who must keep it satisfied.
It ain’t easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat,
She gave her heart to the man
In the long black coat.

There are no mistakes in life some people say
It is true sometimes you can see it that way.
But people don’t live or die, people just float.
She went with the man
In the long black coat.

There’s smoke on the water, it’s been there since June,
Tree trunks uprooted, ‘neath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force
Somebody is out there beating a dead horse.
She never said nothing, there was nothing she wrote,
She gone with the man
In the long black coat.

Peter Sirr



Right here, right now
on the lavender sack
by the olive trays

a scoop of olives
for your mouth
and goat’s cheese for your thighs

let me
lie down with you
in the havoc of the market. . .


Because you gust through the room
making things occur,

the fruit to fly from the fruit-bowl
and the furniture to quail,

because the olives are all over
and the meal

may never recover,
tonight’s outpost

of the empire of laughter
invents a ceremony:

the orange touch, the olive kiss,
the lying down, it seemed forever,

in juiced rain and lavender storm


Cry Hunger, Hunger
silencing the vendors, causing

the buyers to stare. Such
havocs of tenderness

wreak there
spices will fly, lavender rain

on the city,
the sky grey with November,

the heart with old anger.
With tang, with colour

baffle them, bless them,
and the sound of laughter.

Gyorgi Petri

Morning Coffee

I like the cold rooms of autumn, sitting
early in the morning at an open window,
or on the roof, dressing-gown drawn close,
the valley and the morning coffee glowing –
this cooling, that warming.

Red and yellow multiply, but the green
wanes, and into the mud the leaves
fall – fall in heaps,
the devalued currency of summer:
so much of it! so worthless !

Gradually the sky’s
downy grey turns blue, the slight
chill dies down. The tide
of day comes rolling in –
in waves, gigantic, patient, barrelling.

I can start to carry on. I give myself up
to an impersonal imperative.

Translated from the Hungarian by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri

Featured post

The Lamp

Anna Kamieńska The Lamp I write in order to comprehend not to express myself I don’t grasp anything I’m not ashamed to admit it sharin...