Monday, September 20, 2010
Review of PROFANE UNCERTAINTIES by Luis Raul Calvo, Translated from Spanish into English by Flavia Cosma, Cervena Barva Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, USA, 2010, poetry, 48 pages. Bookstore: www.thelostbookshelf.com
By Barbara Bialick
The book PROFANE UNCERTAINTIES by Luis Raul Calvo, is intriguing in its fascination with things universal, especially considering it’s written profanity-free by a man from Buenos Aires, Argentina and translated by a woman, Flavia Cosma, born in Romania, who lives and writes poetry, children’s books and TV documentaries in Canada in North American English.
Calvo’s philosophical wondering about life and death flows like a river in the tradition of other Latin American writers I have read but am not an expert in. “Real Life”, the first poem in the book starts you thinking right away: “Real life is nothing but a carroded/priesthood/in magnificent cities…But you who disowned the dogma and the customs/and chose the freedom of the blind…/you wander today/…wavering, your head bent/and staggering with your hands tangled/…in a dubious banquet.”
What does this mean? isn’t even a question I asked right away. Rather I just kept reading the book from beginning to end in its gentle language ironically frought with diatribes on death and memory. “When we think we have everything, something reminds us that the void also exists,” he writes, in “Nomadic Beauty (Fragments”). “When we start asking ourselves about love, we have ceased to be in love.”
Then he brings us into “Bajos fondos del alma, The lowest depths of the soul”, a long series of poems. In XIV, he notes “We were obliged to reach an understanding/that neither the world or our parents/resembled our primitive sensations.” In XIX, he says, “There are no memories/that can survive with dignity…the business of living becomes something similar to a fleeting/and fickle absence.”
A poet’s poet, Calvo is someone whose work you’d want to read when looking for inspiration. Indeed, he is a well known poet and essayist who was born in 1955 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is editor-in-chief of “Generation Abierta” (Literature-Art-Education), a prominent cultural magazine founded in Buenos Aires in 1988. He’s also director of the weekly radio show “Generacion Abierta”, president of Literary Café Antonio Alberti, and a member of the Directorate of Argentina para la poesia foundation.
He has published more than six other books and his poems have been translated into English, French, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese.