jueves, 28 de abril de 2016


Denise Riley 

Nació en 1948 en Carlisle, Inglaterra. Es profesora de Historia de las Ideas y de la poesía en la Universidad de East Anglia.



Selected Poems, Reality Street Editions, London 2000, collects all the poems Riley values from the earlier volumes:
Marxism for Infants. Street Editions, Cambridge 1977. 
No Fee. With Wendy Mulford. Street Editions, Cambridge 1979. 
Dry Air. Virago, London 1985. 
Stair Spirit. Equipage, Cambridge 1992. 
Mop Mop Georgette. Reality Street Editions, Cambridge & London 1993.
Penguin Modern Poets 10. With Douglas Oliver & Iain Sinclair. Penguin, Harmondsworth 1996.


‘Waiting’, in Truth, Dare or Promise: Girls Growing Up in the Fifties. Ed Liz Heron. Virago, London 1985. 
“Am I That Name”: Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ in History. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 1988.
Poets on Writing: Britain, 1970-1991. As editor. Macmillan, Basingstoke1992.
The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony. Stanford UP, Stanford 2000.


2014 Cholmeley Award (Lifetime Achievement in Poetry)
2014 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Single Poem)
2012 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Single Poem)
2012 Ted Hughes Award (New Work in Poetry)


No leas esto como el flujo de tinta blanca, escurrida
De pezones retráctiles. No,
Negro como lo de él es lo mío.

Vidrio manchado de lluvia, anaranjadas hojas de cerezo que-
         madas, funda del ojo de azúcar rosada.
No me abroches a un incidente recargado
Sino dejame patinar- eso

Este racimo de ganglios debió haber nacido con ojos mejores
Más bien brillando como los de un venado- entonces en lugar
      de horrorizarse podría uno
No alzar su golpeante cabeza del suelo y acariciar su fluyente
Y, y, y, y nunca partir.

No leas esto como un fluir de tinta blanca, disparada
De retráctiles. No,
Negra así es la mía.

Traducido por Robert Rivas


Las traducciones corren a cargo de Adalberto García López.

Oh vete por ahora

Persistentes son tus cercanos extraviados
o perdidos y un niño enterrado.

No dejarán sus deseos sin decirlos
pero te seguirán con peticiones y codazos

mientras tu proceso de duelo se acobarda
antes de cada ataque sibilante

que te chantajea para que los conduzcas atrás:
“Nos amaste terriblemente, y entonces

nos has mantenido fuertes aunque…”
Tranquilamente amontona tierra fresca sobre ellos.

Ellos pueden esperar a que te les unas
tan pronto lo desees; pronto te reunirás

para hurgar y darle un nuevo dolor a quien quiera
que haya sobrevivido y te haya amado.

Oh go away for now

Persistent are your lost or dead
intimates and buried child.

They won’t leave their wants unsaid
but tag you with appeals and prods

while your ‘work of mourning’ quails
before each sibilant attack

inveigling you to lead them back:
‘You’ve loved us terribly, and so

you’ve kept us going, even though …’
Calmly heap fresh soil upon them.

They can wait for you to join them
as soon as you will; you’ll soon gang up

to poke and give some new grief to
whoever, left living, once loved you.

Little Eva[2]

El tiempo tomó tu amor y ahora el tiempo tomará su tiempo.
“Sigue adelante”, escuchas, ¿pero a qué clamoroso vacío?
El lugar más placentero es el más cercano a tu muerte
donde reposas despreocupada sin moverte, sin pensar
en desplazarte. Con una constante tristeza analítica, acatas.
Incluso te pone de buenas cuando estás deprimido.
Brincas adelantes, brincas atrás. Sacúdete en tu puesto.
Puedo negar este “seguir adelante” nuestro.
Haz el paso loco-motion en mi sala.

Little Eva

Time took your love – now time will take its time.
‘Move on’, you hear, but to what howling emptiness?
The kinder place is closest to your dead
where you lounge in confident no-motion, no thought
of budging. Constant in analytic sorrow, you abide.
It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue.
Jump up, jump back. Flail on the spot.
I can disprove this ‘moving on’ nostrum.
Do the loco-motion in my living room.


A misremembered lyric: a soft catch of its song
whirrs in my throat. ‘Something’s gotta hold of my heart
tearing my’ soul and my conscience apart, long after
presence is clean gone and leaves unfurnished no
shadow. Rain lyrics. Yes, then the rain lyrics fall.
I don’t want absence to be this beautiful.
It shouldn’t be; in fact I know it wasn’t, while
‘everything that consoles is false’ is off the point – 
you get no consolation anyway until your memory’s
dead; or something never had gotten hold of
your heart in the first place, and that’s the fear thought.
Do shrimps make good mothers? Yes they do.
There is no beauty out of loss; can’t do it – 
and once the falling rain starts on the upturned
leaves, and I listen to the rhythm of unhappy pleasure
what I hear is bossy death telling me which way to
go, what I see is a pool with an eye in it. Still let
me know. Looking for a brand-new start. Oh and never
notice yourself ever. As in life you don’t.


This is an old fiction of reliability

is a weather presence, is a righteousness
is arms in cotton

this is what stands up in kitchens
is a true storm shelter
& is taken straight out of colonial history, master and slave

arms that I will not love folded nor admire for their ‘strength’
linens that I will not love folded but will see flop open
tables that will rise heavily in the new wind & lift away, bearing their precious burdens

of mothers who never were, nor white nor black
mothers who were always a set of equipment and a fragile balance
mothers who looked over a gulf through the cloud of an act & at times speechlessly saw it

inside a designation there are people permanently started to bear it, the not-me against sociology
inside the kitchens there is realising of tightropes
Milk, if I do not continue to love you as deeply and truly as you want and need
that is us in the mythical streets again

support, support

the houses are murmuring with many small pockets of emotion
on which spongy grounds adults lives are being erected and paid for daily
while their feet and their children’s feet are tangled around like those of fen larks
in the fine steely wires which run to and fro between love and economics

affections must not support the rent

I. neglect. the house


Who anyone is or I am is nothing to the work. The writer properly should be the last person that the reader or the listener need think about yet the poet with her signature stands up trembling, grateful, mortally embarrassed and especially embarrassing to herself, patting her hair and twittering If, if only 

I need not have a physical appearance! To be sheer air, and mousseline! and as she frets the minute wars scorch on through paranoias of the unreviewed herded against a cold that drives us in together – then pat me more, Coventry to fall from Anglo-Catholic clouds of drifting we’s high tones of feeling down to microscopic horror scans of tiny shiny surfaces rammed up against the nose cascading on Niagara, bobbed and jostled, racing rusted cans of Joseph Cotten reels charmed with his decent gleam: once we as incense-shrouded ectoplasm gets blown fresh drenched and scattered units pull on gloss coats to preen in their own polymer:
still it’s not right to flare and quiver at some fictive ‘worldly boredom of the young’ through middle-aged hormonal pride of Madame, one must bleed; it’s necessary . . . 
Mop mop georgette. The only point of holding up my blood is if you’d think So what? We’ve all got some of that: since then you’d each feel better; less apart. – Hardly:
it’s more for me to know that I have got some, like a textbook sexual anxiety while the social-worker poet in me would like her revenge for having been born and left.
What forces the lyric person to put itself on trial though it must stay rigorously uninteresting?
Does it count on its dullness to seem human and strongly lovable; a veil for the monomania which likes to feel itself helpless and touching at times? Or else it backs off to get sassy since arch isn’t far from desperate: So take me or leave me. No, wait, I didn’t mean leave me, wait, just don’t – or don’t flick and skim to the foot of a page and then get up to go –


VII Disintegrate me

There was such brilliance lifting off the sea, its aquamarine strip
blocked in behind white-dashed mimosas, that it stung my eyes
all morning as I stood in the old playground, pushing the swing
steadily, looking out across the water and longing to do without
these radio voices, and without my post as zealous secretary, as
transmitter of messages from the dead, who’d issue disclaimers
that they’d ever sent them – all the while a slow hot cut spreads
to baste me now with questions of my own complicity in harm
muttering thoughtfully about ‘patterns’ until I’m stamped out as
an old paisley shawl or worn kelim, do I look good as this one
or should I be less loud, or less repetitive? and on the top of my
wardrobe, familiar spirits cluster and hang to chatter, lean over
to peer down interestedly at me, vivaciously complaining about
the large amounts of fluff I’ve left up there, ‘that’s just as we’d
expect’: meanwhile the out-to-kill person is not, or so she or he
shrugs, pulled at by voices, but dead at heart stands amnesiac
plumped out with the effective innocence of the untroubled – 
This gloss is taking me on unconvincing dashes down blind
alleys I mistrust, since desperate to see things straight, I can’t fit
apt blame in to self-damnation: could I believe instead in drained
abandon, in mild drift out over some creamy acre studded with
brick reds, to be lifted, eased above great sienna fields and born
onward to be an opened stem or standing hollow, a flesh ring
through which all slips or a fluent cylinder washed through by
azure-tangled braid, trailing Stella Maris, fervent star of the sea
marine milk vessel flopped at the lip flicking down swathes of
gulls emulsifying blackened earth striped and coiled under rock
under burnt straw air fuzzed in breathy fields of coconut-sharp
gorse flowers flushed tan on cliffs where lower, toothpaste green
lucidly rears and rears in the crash of blinding crumpled water
smoothing to clear and flat; so calmly let me disperse so simply
let me disperse, drawn out thin-frothed in a broad lacy pancake
fan of salt, or let me fall back as dolphins rock back in the sea
twirled like slow toys on pin-wheels – No single word of this
is any more than decoration of an old self-magnifying wish
to throw the self away so violently and widely that interrogation
has to pause since its chief suspect’s sloped off to be cloud, to be
wavery colour bands: no ‘release from service to a hard master’
said of the thankful close, it’s hoped, of sexual need in oldest age
can touch this other drive of shame fighting to clear a name to itself:
it can’t, because its motor runs on a conviction that if I understood
my own extent of blame then that would prove me agent; it doesn’t
want to face a likely truth of helplessness – that the inflated will to
gauge and skewer each wrong turn may blank out what’s far worse
to bear: impersonal hazard, the humiliating lack of much control – 
I don’t get past this thought with any confidence.

Poet's Note: Seven Strangely Exciting Lies’ takes its title from W. H. Auden’s ‘The Question’
‘Only remembering the method of remembering
Remembering only in another way
Only the strangely exciting lie’



A gush of water, welling from some cave, which slopped
Down to a stone trough squatting stout and chalky as a
Morning sky: I plumped myself on lizard-ridden stone to stare
Into its old truth square that struck me as perhaps another lie
So serious did it look while it promised me, oh, everything.
That honest look of water nursed in stone excited me. Under
The generous trees, tall splotchy planes and brittle ilex, their
Dark flopped down, sun-glare and dust spun through it.


I sipped that cold and leafy water tentatively, lost lipstick
Dabbing my mouth, gulped down a little slippery grit I hoped
Was not ferny mosquito larvae; then sat on, guidebook-learned
To get gorgeous and pneumatic in the throat, my bulk deflating
Slowly until, the sunset, when the last coach parties slid away.
The heat of the day peeled off, the light got blurred and hummed,
Pounding dusk struck up then a strong swelling rose in my throat
Thick with significant utterance. So, shivery in my cool and newly
Warty skin, I raised this novel voice to honk and boom.


I was small enough now, and stoical, to squat on the slabs of rock
Edging the trough, splashed with the spring that welled steadily into it
Shaking its stone-cupped water. I wear yet a precious jewel in my head,
I mused, this line of old rhetoric floating back through me, as quite
Unsurprised I settled to study the night, flexing my long damp thighs
Now as studded and ridged as the best dill pickles in Whitechapel.
Into the cooling air I gave tongue, my ears blurred with the lyre
Of my larynx, its vibrato reverberant into the struck-dumb dusk.


What should I sing out on this gratuitous new instrument?
Not much liking minimalism, I tried out some Messiaen,
Found I was a natural as a bassoon, indeed the ondes martenot
Simply oozed out of me. Or should lyric well up less, be bonier?
So I fluted like HD’s muse in spiky girlish hellenics, slimmed
My voice down to twig-size, so shooting out stiffly it quivered
In firework bursts of sharp flowers. Or had I a responsibility to
Speak to society: though how could it hear me? It lay in its hotels.


I spun out some long lines, let them loop in sound ribbons
Lassooed the high branches where they dangled and trailed
Landing like leathery bats in vacancy – alighted, they pleated,
Composed themselves flawlessly, as lifeless as gloves.
The silence that hung on these sounds made me sheepish.
I fished for my German, broke out into lieder, rhymed
Sieg with Krieg, so explaining our century; I was hooked
On my theory of militarism as stemming from lyricism.


I’d crouched close by a cemetery; at twilight its keeper
Lit oil lamps in shrines on the pale marble graves, each
Brandishing silver-framed photographs; fresh flowers
For the well-furnished dead shone out amiably, while
The scops owl in residence served up its decorous gulps.
Lights burned on steadfastly in this town of the dead,
Each soul in for a long night, their curtains undrawn.
My monotone croaking rang crude in such company.


Black plane trees bent over me, crouched in the night breeze.
For hours I called out on a sonorous roll, growing somewhat self-
Conscious I’d nothing to do but to sound: yet sound was so stirring
And beauty of utterance was surely enough, I thought I had read this.
A wind rose as I tore out my ravishing tenor, or sank down to throb
On my pitted hindquarters while my neck with its primrose striations
Pulsated and gleamed. Then beauty sobbed back to me, shocking,
Its counterpoint catching my harmonies; I had heard a fresh voice.


No longer alone, not espousing Narcissus, I answered each peal
In a drum of delirium, recalling with shame the dry white thighs
Of frogs like baked chicken wishbones, sorely in need of a sauce.
Our calls clasped in common, as heavy as love, and convulsively
Thickened by love – until ashamed of such ordinariness, I wailed
In sheer vowels. Aaghoooh, I sloughed off raark, aaarrgh noises,
Deliberately degenerate; exuded ooeeehaargh-I-oohyuuuh; then
Randomly honked ‘darkling blue of Dimitrios’: I had dreamed that.


The voice hears itself as it sings to its fellows – must
Thrum in its own ears, like any noise thumping down
Anywhere airwaves must equably fall. I was not that
Narcissus who stared stunned by his handsomeness;
Or I was, but not culpably, since as I sang, so I loved.
In that action of calling hope out I embodied it, grew
Solemn and swollen ushering in my own utterance.
I rang florid yet grave in my ears, as I had to.


Did I need to account for myself as noise-maker?
I had stared in the windows of Clerkenwell clock shops
At dusty brand oils for the watchmakers’ trade, made for
Easing the wound spring – some horo-prefixed, and so close
to my horror of time ticking by – brown bottles of clock oil
labelled Horolene, Horotech. Should I wind up my own time,
Chant ‘I was dropped on the Borders, a poor scraplet of
Langholm, illegit. and state’s burden, lone mother of three’?


Could I try on that song of my sociologised self? Its
Long angry flounce, tuned to piping self-sorrow, flopped
Lax in my gullet – ‘But we’re all bufo bufo’, I sobbed – 
Suddenly charmed by community – ‘all warty we are’.
Low booms from the blackness welled up like dark liquid
Of ‘wart’ Ich auf Dich.’ One Love was pulsed out from our
Isolate throats, concertina’ed in common; ‘Du mit Mir’ was
A comforting wheeze of old buffers, all coupled, one breed.


But then I heard others, odd pockets of sound; why wouldn’t these
Claim me to chant in their choir? As I grew lonelier I got philosophical,
Piped up this line: ‘Don’t fall for paradox, to lie choked in its coils
While your years sidle by.’ Some hooted reproachfully out of the dawn
‘Don’t you stifle us with your egotist’s narrative or go soft on “sameness”,
We’ll plait our own wildly elaborate patterns’ – they bristled like movies
By Kurosawa. By then I’d reflated, abandoned my toadhood, had pulled on
My usual skin like old nylons. I drifted to Delphi, I’d a temple to see.


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