Murielle Jassinthe: Of Country Bodies

 

Jassinthe writes of this poem:

“I’m speaking here of two homeless drug-addicts.  Having no shelter other than the banks of an urban river, there they sleep where solitude isolates them, pushes them toward a more physical closeness. Drug-taking and love-making help them forget the cold, the loneliness – and their Being.”

_____

Murielle Jassinthe was born in Québec in 1982 – of Haitian parentage.

Currently she’s pursuing a Masters in African and Francophone Literatures at Laval University where she works also as a research assistant.  Two years ago, Éditions Bruno Doucey published “Land of Women” – an anthology of Haitian women poets spanning a century-and-a-half. Jassinthe’s poetry was included – one of the youngest voices.  Last year, at Laval University’s Lantiss, she worked both as actress and production assistant on a play by Haitian playwright Guy Régis, Jr., entitled “La mort de soi dans sa longue robe de Mariée”.  Also in 2011 Murielle received a writer’s grant from Première Ovation, and was mentored by poet Alix Renaud for the creation of her collection of poems with photographs, “Trouble Optik” – from which comes the poem we feature here.

_____

Poem translation from French into English:

Alexander Best – with Murielle Jassinthe


Murielle Jassinthe: Des corps champêtres

 

Jassinthe écrit de son poème:

“Je parle de deux sans-abris toxicomanes.  N’ayant nul autre abris que les berges d’un

fleuve en ville, ils y dorment.  La solitude les isolent et les pousse à se rapprocher

physiquement.  La drogue et l’amour physique les aident à oublier le froid, la solitude,

leur être.”

_____

D’origine haïtienne, Murielle Jassinthe naît à Québec en 1982.

Elle poursuit une maîtrise à la Chaire de recherche du Canada en

littératures africaines et francophones à l’Université Laval où elle

œuvre en tant qu’auxiliaire de recherche.

En 2010, les Éditions Bruno Doucey publient trois de ses poèmes

au sein de l’anthologie Terre de femmes, 150 ans de poésie féminine en Haïti.

En 2011, au Lantiss (à Laval), elle y campe le double rôle d’actrice et d’assistante

à la mise en scène, matérialisant ainsi La mort de soi dans sa longue robe de Mariée,

l’une des œuvres du dramaturge haïtien contemporain Guy Régis Jr.

Aussi en 2011 – Bénéficiaire d’une bourse en création littéraire octroyée par

Première Ovation, Murielle fut mentorée par le poète Alix Renaud pour l’écriture de

son recueil Trouble Optik – duquel vient le poème ici.

____

Lisez au-dessus notre traduction français-anglais…


Murielle Jassinthe: The maternal angle / L’angle maternel

_____

Murielle Jassinthe

L’angle maternel  *  The maternal angle

_

La langue de ma mère  *  The language of my mother

se tord en ma bouche  *  gets twisted in my mouth

attise la brûlure  *      fans the burn

à l’oeil nu     *         clear and direct

métallique  conte nocturne  *    metallic nocturne tale

ses chants de volaille  *    these birdsongs

ne se mangent   *      can only be eaten

que par la bouche colonial   *  by the colonial mouth

_

digérés par ce vent de sel    *   digested by this saltwind

mes viscères rubiconds haïssent   *   that my bloody guts hate

les odeurs transfigurent   *   the smell transforms

ma veste ma peau d’être   *   my coat my skin myself

fort ce hâle qui me fait cuir   *  strong this browning that

davantage que le soleil  *   burns even more than sun

la main le regard   *   hand and eyes

m’ont fait cuire   *   have baked me.

_

je me sens  *  I feel

j’exhale    *  I exhale

danse pour la terre seule     *   dance for the earth

creuset de fièvre

                          *         alone feverish

verve lente douce  *   slow sweet verve

érosion qui s’inscrit  *  erosion that etches

en mes muscles  *   into my muscles

ma tête arabesque  *  my headband’s

est porte-étendard  *  a standard-bearer

_

la langue de ma mère  *   my mother tongue

se tord en ma bouche.  *   writhes in my mouth.

_____

The poet states:

“I’m writing here about feelings of cultural dislocation.  The Haitian Creole language – that is, the mother tongue – that I have not mastered speaking.  This native language of my mother and father which is not mine.  All the same, there exist the words, my love of language to describe and to shout out my identity, suffering,  joy, injustice, love, desire, fear, etc:  The World in all its wonderful ugliness and tortuous beauty.   And I am proud, as well, of my people – Haitians – I am one of their blazing torches.”

_____

Résumé par le poète:

“J’écris à propos d’un sentiment de dépossession culturelle.  De cette langue créole, le

langue maternelle, que je ne maîtrise pas.  La langue maternelle de ma mère et de mon père

qui n’est pas la mienne.  Toutefois, il me reste les mots, mon amour de la langue pour

décrier et crier mon identité, la souffrance, la joie, l’injustice, l’amour, le désir, la peur, etc:

Le monde dans toute son admirable laideur et sa tortueuse beauté.  Aussi, je suis fière de

mon people, les Haïtiens, et j’en suis l’un des flambeaux.”

_____

Poem translation from French into English /

Traduction du poème, français-anglais:

Alexander Best – with/avec Murielle Jassinthe


Hector Poullet: “Mi yo doubout an péyi-la…” / “Standing tall in our country…”


Hector Poullet (né/born 1938)

(Écrivain noir, créoliste, de La Guadeloupe

/ Black Creole-language writer, Guadeloupe)

 

E mi sé ti moun péyi-la

Mi yo

Mi yo doubout an péyi-la

An mitan lanmé

An mitan soley

Yo la

Po nwè

Po jonn

Po rouj

Po shapé

Po blan

Nou byen fouté pa mal !

Nou sa sé zenfan péyi-la

Sé swé a yo ki ka rozé péyi-la

_____

Voici les enfants du pays,     Here are the children of the country,

Les voici,                                 Here they are,

Les voici érigés au pays,               Standing tall in our country,

Au coeur même de la mer,       With hearts as much of the sea as sun.

Au coeur même du soleil.

Ils sont là                                      There they are:  the

Peaux noires                            Black skins, yellows,

Peaux jaunes                          Red skins and shedded skins,

Peaux rouges                           White skins, too.

Peaux échappées et

Peaux blanches

Quelle importance !                    And it’s so important –

Ce sont, nous le savons,               That they are – and we know it –

Les fils de ce pays;                          The children of this country;

Leur sueur nourrit la terre de ce pays!      Their sweat nourishes this earth!

_____


Etta James: “Mi Fuerte Amante” / “Tough Lover”

Etta James

“Mi Fuerte Amante” (1956)

 

 

 

Tengo un amante que me mueve tanto,

Sabe hacer ‘el rocanrol’,

Porque es fuerte – mi amante –

Es un amante vigoroso,

Amante recio,

Un amante fuerte – ¡eso es!

*

Cuando me besa,

Me emociona;

Cuando se sacude,

No me quedo quieta.

Es un amante vigoroso,

Amante recio,

Un amante fuerte – ¡aaah, sííí!

*

Las Siete Hermanas no lo pueden tener,

Estoy hablando acerca del Amor -

Y es veloz – él – como el viento.

Habla la gente que estoy enbrujada.

Pero no es el vudú – ¡es ese “twist”!

El Amante más grande de nuestra era,

Aún Don Juan no tiene ningun’esperanza.

Te hace reír,

Te hace llorar,

Se pone tan recio que

Pued’hacer a un’estatua de Venus resucitar.

Hace todo lo que quiera – aún:

Pisotear los zapatos de gamuza-azul de Jesse James.

Es un amante audaz,

y duro, y recio,

Un amante fuerte – ¡ajá, ajá!

*

¿Tienes amante que quieras amar?

¡Golpéale en la cabeza una vez – o dos!

Será tu amante vigoroso – ¡sí, sí! –

Un amante recio – ¡eso es!

Un amante fuerte – ¡aaah, sííí!

 

 

 

Glosario:

Las Siete Hermanas se llaman Las Pléyades – en la mitología griega.

Las dos más famosas – Electra y Maia – eran “Fuerzas de la Naturaleza”.

Jesse James era un forajido estadounidense de la era “Viejo Oeste”.

 

_____

 

Etta James (1938-2012)

escribió las letras y grabó esta canción

en 1956 – a la edad tierna de dieciocho años.

Su personalidad era fuerte y burlona pero pudo

cantar también la música íntima del Blues.

*

Traducción / interpretación  en español:  Lidia García Garay

 

_____

 

Etta James

“Tough Lover” (1956)

 

 

Well, I’ve got a lover that moves me so

He sho knows how to rock’n’roll

‘Cause he’s a tough lover – yeah, yeah

He’s a tough lover – wooooo

Tough Lover – yeah, yeah

Tough Lover – unh hunh!

*

When he kisses me

I get a thrill

But when he does that wiggle

I can’t keep still

‘Cause he’s a tough lover – yeah, yeah

He’s a tough lover – wooooo!

Tough Lover – yeah, yeah

Tough Lover – unh hunh!

*

The Seven Sisters have nothin’ on him

I’m talkin’ about love – and he’s fast as the wind

People all talk about he’s got me fixed

It ain’t hoodoo –  it’s just that twist!

He’s the greatest lover ever come to pass

Don Juan ain’t got a half of a chance.

He can make you laugh

He can make you cry

He’s so tough he’ll make Venus come alive.

He can do anything that he wants to do –

Step on Jesse James’s blue-suede shoes

‘Cause he’s a tough lover – yeah, yeah

He’s a tough lover – wooooo!

Tough Lover – yeah, yeah

Tough Lover – unh hunh!

*

You got a lover

That you wanna love right?

Just pop him ’side the head

– Once or twice!

He’ll be a tough lover – yeah, yeah

He’ll be your tough lover – wooooo!

Tough lover – yeah, yeah

Tough lover – unh hunh!

 

_____

 

Etta James (1938-2012)

was a rock’n’roll “mama” even

at the tender age of 18, which is when she

wrote and recorded this song with her band,

The Peaches.   Her vocal delivery was often

rough-and-tough in sound – but also full of

fun.   The “wooooo’s” in her singing she

borrowed from Little Richard, with whom

she toured in the 1950s.   By middle age she

was undisputedly the best living Blues singer

in The United States.

_____


Mildred Barya: “Una Gota de Sangre” / “A Drop of Blood”

 

Mildred Barya (nace 1976)

“Una Gota de Sangre”

 

 

El día que me llegó la regla

Exclamó mi madre:

“¡Ahora eres mujer!”

Entonces me pregunté:

¿Qué yo había sido antes?

¿Y cómo me ha hecho una mujer

Una gota de sangre?

*

Cuando llevaron a mi hermano al círculo,

Él se estremeció a la sensación de un cuchillo afilado.

Pero le convencieron:

“No debes  tener miedo,

No muestres ninguna cobardía.

Tan pronto como te cortemos la piel

Te harás un hombre.”

*

Cuando mi madre tenía a Junior

Tan pesado en su vientre

Se apuraba de la mesa

Y corría al lavaplatos.

El día que le llevaron al hospital

Cayó al suelo una bolsa de agua

Pues una gota de sangre.

Gritó mi padre: “¡Mujer!”

*

Leí en Las Sagradas Escrituras

Como fue sacrificado el Hijo de Hombre.

Antes de dar su último aliento,

Manaron fuera de él

Agua y la sangre.

En este momento se hizo Hombre

Que era el Dios.

*

Supongo que haya algo en una gota de sangre

Que nos hace hombres y mujeres.

 

_____

 

Mildred Barya (born 1976)

“A Drop of Blood”

 

 

The day I got my first period,

Mother exclaimed:

“You’ve become a woman!”

And so I wondered,

What had I been earlier?

And how could a drop of blood

Make me a woman?

*

When they took my brother to the circle,

He flinched at the feel of a sharp knife.

But the elders convinced him:

“You must not fear

Do not show any cowardice

Once we slice off the skin

You become a man.”

*

When mother was heavy with Junior,

She would rush off the table

And run to the sink.

The day she was taken to hospital

A bag of water dropped to the ground,

Then a drop of blood.

Father cried: “Woman!”

*

I read in the Holy Scriptures

How the Son of Man was crucified

Before he breathed his last.

Water and blood flowed out,

There he became Man,

Who was God.

*

I guess there’s something in a drop of blood

That makes us men and women.

 

 

_____

Mildred Barya,  poeta,  nació en Uganda.

Ganó el Premio Pan-Africano del Foro Literário

en 2008.   Barya también es periodista y escritor

de viaje.   Vive en Syracuse, Nueva York, EEUU.

*

Poet Mildred Barya was born in Uganda.

She won the 2008 Prize of the Pan African

Literary Forum.   Barya is also a journalist

and travel-writer.   Currently she lives in

Syracuse, New York.

*

Translation from English into Spanish /

Traducción del inglés al español:   Alexander Best


Ataulfo Alves: “In a masquerade of Joy I hid my Sadness…”

Ataulfo Alves  (Sambista brasileiro, 1906-1969)

“Ilusão de carnaval”

.

Mascarado de alegria

Escondi minha tristeza

Terminada a folia

Sou mais triste com certeza

Ilusão de carnaval

Enganei somente a mim

Sem pensar que afinal

Carnaval também tem fim.

*

Ataulfo Alves 

(Brazilian Samba composer, 1906-1969)

“Carnival Illusion”

.

In a masquerade of Joy

I hid my Sadness.

Revelry done,

More sad than ever

Am I…

.

You Illusion – oh Carnival !

I merely tricked myself

Without thinking that,

After all,

Carnival too comes to an end.

 

.

Translation from Portuguese:

Alexander Best


Nigel Darbasie: “Empires of Imagination”

_____

 

“Monday Jump-Up”

 

 

Is ol’ mas’ one carnival,

the best we could have fashioned

from our fathers’ discarded clothes.

In fat-pants and suspenders,

felt hats at our eyebrows,

we went to the railway station,

jammin’ steelband a cappella

as we headed for the city.

*

Almost everyone was on the hadj

to Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain.

Royalty from unknown civilizations,

in silk and lamé, hobnobbed

with families of spectators

whose baskets filled our carriage

with aromas of peas and rice, and curry.

*

Outside the city terminus

a pack of half-naked devils descended.

Skins oily blue, and ochre.

Horned foreheads.  Upturned tails

bobbing in wicked waist motion.

“Pay de devil!  Pay de devil!”  they chanted,

hustling purgatory dues from the crowd.

*

An ol’ mas’ band came along:

women in men’s clothes,

men in diapers, sucking carnival formula

from nippled Vat 19 and Old Oak rum bottles.

We revelled with them awhile

before jumpin’ behind giant butterflies

all the way to the Savannah.

*

There, at the confluence of worlds,

fantastic creatures swarmed overhead.

And down the streets,

from the empires of imagination,

flowed waves of mortal souls

dancing in the sunlight.

 

_____

 

Nigel Darbasie lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

He emigrated from Trinidad, West Indies, in 1969.

This poem, from his collection “A Map of the Island”,

brings us a nostalgic memory of Carnival in the 1960s

from the point-of-view of a lively, observant boy.

“Monday Jump-Up” is here used by permission of

The University of Alberta Press.

*

Editor’s note:

This year, 2012, today – February 20th – is the

“Monday” in the title of Darbasie’s poem:

a.k.a. J’Ouvert  (Opening Day) of Trinidad Carnival.

_____


Djavan: “Face of the Indian” / “Cara de Índio”

Letra da canção de

cantor e compositor afrobrasileiro

Djavan (nasce 1949)

“Cara de Índio”(1978)

 

 

Índio cara pálida,

cara de índio.

Índio cara pálida,

cara de índio.

Sua ação é válida, meu caro índio.

Sua ação é válida, válida ao índio.

Nessa terra tudo dá,

terra de índio.

Nessa terra tudo dá,

não para o índio.

Quando alguém puder plantar,

quem sabe índio.

Quando alguém puder plantar,

não é índio.

Índio quer se nomear,

nome de índio.

Índio quer se nomear,

duvido índio.

Isso pode demorar,

te cuida índio.

Isso pode demorar,

coisa de índio.

*

Índio sua pipoca,

tá pouca índio.

Índio quer pipoca,

te toca índio.

Se o índio se tocar,

touca de índio.

Se o índio toca,

não chove índio.

Se quer abrir a boca,

pra sorrir índio.

Se quer abrir a boca,

na toca índio.

*

A minha também tá pouca,

cota de índio.

Apesar da minha roupa,

também sou índio.

 

_____

 

Djavan

(Brazilian songwriter, born 1949)

“The Indian Face” (1978)

 

 

Indio pale-face

Indian face.

Pale-face Indio

Your action is just, my dear Indio.

Your action is valid, right for the Indian.

In that land everything grows

– the Indian’s land.

In that land everything grows

– but not for the Indian.

When someone can plant,

who knows? The Indio.

When someone inspires,

Isn’t it the Indio?

An Indian wants to call himself

an Indian name.

Indio wants to call himself himself

– I doubt it, Indio

– that might take time – take care,

That might take time,

The Indian thing.

*

Indio gets just

A little “popcorn”.

He wants “popcorn” too

– it’s your turn, Indio.

If the Indian touches his head

it doesn’t rain.

If he wants to open his mouth

– Smile, Indio.

If he wants to open his mouth,

Don’t touch him.

*

I also have little,

An Indian’s share.

Despite my clothes,

I’m an Indio, too.

 

_____


Jorge Ben Jor: Day of the Indian / Dia de Índio

_____

Jorge Ben Jor (nasce 1942)

“Curumin chama cunhãtã que eu vou contar

(Todo dia era Dia de Índio)”  (1981)

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti,

Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin,

Krahô, Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Curumim chama cunhatã que eu vou contar

Cunhatã chama curumim que eu vou contar

Curumim, cunhatã

Cunhatã, curumim

*

Antes que os homens aqui pisassem

Nas ricas e férteis terraes brazilis

Que eram povoadas e amadas por milhões de índios

Reais donos felizes

Da terra do pau-brasil

Pois todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio

Pois todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio

*

Mas agora eles só têm um dia

O dia dezenove de abril…

Amantes da pureza e da natureza

Eles são de verdade incapazes

De maltratarem as fêmeas

Ou de poluir o rio, o céu e o mar

Protegendo o equilíbrio ecológico

Da terra, fauna e flora.

Pois na sua história, o índio

É o exemplo mais puro

Mais perfeito, mais belo

Junto da harmonia da fraternidade.

É da alegria,

Da alegria de viver

Da alegria de amar.

Mas no entanto agora

O seu canto de guerra

É um choro de uma raça inocente…

Que já foi muito contente

Pois antigamente

Todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio.

*

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti, Suyá,

Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin, Krahô,

Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Todo dia, toda hora, era dia de índio…..

Curumim, cunhatã / Hey! Hey! Hey!

Hey! Hey! Hey! / Cunhatã, curumim…..

_____

Jorge Ben Jor

“Every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian”

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Hey  Hey  Hey!

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti,

Suyá, Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin,

Krahô, Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Call:   “Curumim cunhatã” – I’m going to tell it.

Cry:   “Cunhatã curumim” is how I’m going to tell it.

Curumim, cunhatã

Cunhatã, curumim

*

Before people trod here

Upon this rich and fertile land of Brazil

It was populated and loved by millions of Indians,

Happy moneyless owners

Of this land of “Brazil-wood”.

Back then, every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian.

But now they have only one day,

The 19th of April…

*

Lovers of purity, of nature,

They knew truth, incapable of

Mistreating Woman

Or of polluting river, sky and sea,

Protecting the ecological equilibrium

Of earth, flora and fauna.

And so, in history,  the Indio

Is an exemplar most pure,

Perfect and beautiful.

Together in the harmony of humanity

He gives joy – joy of life,  joy of love.

Now, though, theirs is a war song – and it’s

The cry of an innocent race…

In olden times they were most happy because

Every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian.

*

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas,

Makus, Nambikwaras, Tupis, Bororós,

Guaranis, Kaiowa, Ñandeva, YemiKruia

Yanomá, Waurá, Kamayurá, Iawalapiti,

Txikão, Txu-Karramãe, Xokren, Xikrin,

Krahô, Ramkokamenkrá, Suyá !

*

Every day, every hour, was the Day of the Indian.

Curumim, cunhatã / Hey! Hey! Hey!

Hey! Hey! Hey! / Cunhatã, curumim…..

_____

Glossary:

Jês, Kariris, Karajás, Tukanos, Caraíbas, etc.,

–  Ben gives us a list of names of the

Indian/Indigenous/Native Peoples of Brazil

The 19th of April – throughout Latin and South America,

this day – Dia Americano del Indio – draws attention to the

cultures, struggles and progress of Indigenous Peoples;

initiated in 1940 at Pátzcuaro, México, during the first

“Congreso Indigenista Interamericano”

/ InterAmerican Indigenous Congress


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