invierno de 2013
North American poets (from L) Lorena Wolfman, John Oliver Simon and Craig Czury prepare to release helium balloons with one of their poems attached, itself emblazoned with our national Stars & Stripes, from the courtyard where Argentine Independence was declared. Circo Ambulante de Poesía, San Nicolás.
participants in the circo ambulante de poesía
organized by Héctor Berenguer
including VI Encuentro Internacional
(Rosario, Teatro del Círculo)
III Encuentro de San Nicolás,
where Argentine independence was declared, sponsored by poetic lawyers,
and the II Transpoesía in La Plata, with the veterans of the Malvinas/ Falklands War
October 15-21, 2012
John Oliver Simon
John Oliver Simon
El Circo Ambulante de Poesía
Rosario, San Nicolás, La Plata, Argentina
October/ octubre 2012
By Way of Presentation
John Oliver Simon
As I rode through scudding rain on a Criolla Costera bus with poet Craig Czury toward Rosario, Argentina, he told me that his wife, the poet Heather Thomas, was simultaneously flying to a festival in Kosovo.
I know there exists a vibrant international circuit of poetry festivals into which I’ve dipped my toes on rare occasions when my bubble reputation reaches modest orbit, but a few world poets, I suppose, must live like gypsies or the Greatful Dead from tour to tour. Without doubt there is a sensational novel to be written about scandals and romance among poets rekindling aquaintance on the festival circuit from Valdivia to Ulan Bator. Make it a trilogy to pay the rent.
The biggest festival in this hemisphere is in Medellín, Colombia, where I was featured among others in 1996. The success of Medellín — in the final session we read to 5,000 people in the rain in an open-air amphiteatre on the Cerro Nutibara — has spawned poetic festivities of various scope in many venues. Our whole Circo Ambulante de Poesía, this travelling circus of poetry out in the sticks of the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was dreamed into being by Rosario poet and coordinator Héctor Berenguer. Thanks you so much, dear Héctor!
The Circo Ambulante began with three nights in the Teatro el Círculo in Rosario October 15-17, 2012, followed by two nights under the auspices of a poetic gaggle of lawyers headed up by Piero De Vicari in San Nicolås, and finishing up with two weekend nights, October 20-21, in La Plata under the auspices of the veterans of the Malvinas War (in 1982, against Maggie Thatcher, fought by conscripts whose defeat brought about the fall of the bloody dictatorship. You’ll get in trouble in Argentina if you say the word Falklands), Martín Ranínqueo and Gustavo Caso Rosendi presiding.
Perhaps insurance conventions equal poetry festivals in their quotient of profundity and charisma, but I doubt it. Poetry reveals the naked soul, or at least the naked mind, and the quality of revelation that cascades on this listener when first hearing a poem by an Ana María Cué, a Rodolfo Alonso, an Alicia Salinas, a Kepa Murua, is uniquely special: stepping into a new river and drinking water clean from the source. Block that metaphor: good luck drinking from the muddy, muscular Río Paraná!
The name Paraná comes from the Tupí, a language written down in Jesuit missions and kin to Guaraní, poken by everyone in Paraguay: para hene onáve, meaning like the sea (see David Alberto Fuks, Ríoparaná). The Paraná River drains the rainy highlands of southern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, thunders over the extended horseshoe falls of Iguazú, and is joined in its course by big rivers such as the Paranaibe, Iguazú, Paraguay and Uruguay, all named in cognate languages.
Where we poets first behold the Paraná, on the brink of the rampart protecting the industrial and poetic city of Rosario, its main channel is a ferocious cavalcade half a mile wide, beyond which it diffuses lazily out in a delta (called “la isla”) of sloughs, marshes and estuaries sixty miles across. We ate fish from the river in a joint above the seawall, the torrent throbbing, and midnight asado after a reading down by the piers, the current black and feline, slinking by under the stars. By the way, the stars in Argentina are backward from my perspective: Orion the Hunter rises standing on his head.
In San Nicolás I went running along the costanera and saw the pescadores hauling the shining silver of sábalo, boga and dorado from the dinky rowboats in which they brave the flood (see Alicia Salinas, Los hijos de los pescadores). By the time we got to La Plata, the final stop on our magical mystery tour, the Paraná had become the Río de la Plata, the great embayment through which Spain suckled the silver of Potosí, and the nearest landmark on the farther shore was Montevideo. The most natural response to this majesty might be to wade right in, like Alfonsina Storni, and never return. Instead, the survivors surface with poems.
The Paraná, then, is the natural geographic vein or backbone of this muestra, published as a special Winter 2013 issue of Aldebaran Review, featuring the best work of poets who read in Rosario, San Nicolás and La Plata. The deep rhythm of this revista is set by the Argentine poets native to this watershed, but it is leavened, watch that figure of speech, by those of us who arrived from farther shores:Juany Rojas from Chile’s northern desert where it never rains, Stéfane Chaumet from the banks of the Seine, Kepa Murua from the snowy Pyrenees of Basque Country, Craig Czury from the exhausted coal-fields of Pennsylvania, and Lorena Wolfman and I, John Oliver Simon, who live scant miles apart in Oakland and Berkeley, on the left coast of California, but had to travel all the way to Argentina to meet and subsequently co-edit this antología.
Aldebaran Review Fall 2012
John Oliver Simon
—John Oliver Simon, Editor
Aldebaran Review, named for the brightest of the Hyades, the red eye of Taurus, was first incarnated as a print poetry journal I ran 1967-78 in Berkeley, California.
Wikipedia tells us: Aldebaran (α Tau, α Tauri, Alpha Tauri) is a red giant star located about 65 light years away in the zodiac constellation of Taurus. With an average apparent magnitude of 0.87 it is the brightest star in the constellation and is one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. The name Aldebaran is Arabic (الدبران al-dabarān) and translates literally as "the follower", presumably because this bright star appears to follow the Pleiades, or "Seven Sisters" star cluster in the night sky.
In 1997 a substellar companion was reported but subsequent observations have not confirmed this claim.
The first few issues of ALDEBARAN REVIEW included an impressive number of important American poets, then in their twenties and thirties:
quadraplegic language poet Larry Eigner
future California Poet Laureate Al Young
then-Sister Mary Norbert Körte
ex-marine and ex-con Gene Fowler
charismatic magus Charles Potts
future criminal defense lawyer Richard Krech
bearer of F*CK sign John Thomson aka John Poet
champion blogosphere langpoet Ron Silliman,
activist solidarity poet Margaret Randall
Beat wunderkid now revered elder David Meltzer
millennial conceptual artist D.r. Wagner
Yale Younger Poet surrealist James Tate
legendary Southern poet future suicide Frank Stanford
world's most published poet Lyn Lifshin
Meat poet out of Illinois Doug Blazek
underground Cleveland martyr d.a. levy
Canuckian concrete poet bill bissett
future Poet Laureate of Telegraph Avenue Julia Vinograd
future superb fine printer Peter Koch
Black future late lesbian separatist Pat Parker
uninominal Alta, then my spouse and soon to start her own Shameless Hussy Press
and once and future editor John Oliver Simon.
Not many do it very well.
Nobody really knows why.