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Showing posts from November, 2008

Sleepless in Argentina

Imagine a hand had reached down from the sky and lifted up Paris, Rome and Madrid, shuffled them and laid them out on a grid by the River Plate delta, and you have some idea of Buenos Aires. I’m here again for the first time in almost a decade and second time around the impressions are just as overwhelming. Nothing quite prepares you for the intensity of the city: the endless roar of the traffic, the teeming pavements, the sense that all fourteen million inhabitants of the Greater Buenos Aires have just poured onto the streets. The grid layout actually increases the din; cars, buses and taxis honk and weave down five lane streets in one way systems. Haussmannesque avenidas stretch for miles crossed by a seemingly endless series of parallel streets.

You move around it as across a chessboard, with two crossing streets as your map reference. I need to get to a bookshop on the other side of the city, where a translation of a selection of my poems is being launched. ‘Scalabrini Ortiz and…