JAN HELLER LEVI
Nacida en 1954 en la ciudad de Nueva York. Poeta que enseña en el Programa MFA de CUNY Hunter College en escritura creativa.
Creció en Baltimore, Maryland. Levi fue destinataria del Premio Walt Whitman de la Academia Americana de Poetas por su primer libro, Once I Gazed at You in Wonder. También ha recibido otros dos premios, George Bogin Memorial Award, and the Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award.
Antes de enseñar en el Hunter College, Levi también enseñó en el Sarah Lawrence College y el Centro de Poesía Unterberg de la Calle 92 en la ciudad de Nueva York. Está casada con el novelista y dramaturgo suizo, Christoph Keller, y la pareja divide su tiempo entre Nueva York y San Gallen, Suiza.
A Muriel Rukeyser Reader, Edited by Jan Heller Levi (WW Norton & Company, Inc., 1995)
Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan, Edited by Jan Heller Levi (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)
Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser, Consulting Editor: Jan Heller Levi (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006)
Once I Gazed at You in Wonder: Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1999)
Skyspeak: Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2005)
Spanish version by Adalberto García López
Presentamos un texto de Jan Heller Levi, es poeta. Ella da clases en el MFA Program en el Hunter College. En 1998 mereció el premio Walt Whitman por su libro Once I Gazed at You in Wonder. La version al español es de Adalberto García López
(después de Milosz)
Ahí –donde ves una progresiva
declinación, junto a un andrajoso terreno, sucio,
donde edificios departamentales serán construidos-
los niños caminan a su casa de la escuela.
La luz cae desde un preciso cielo sin nubes.
Las chicas sujetan sus libros con sus brazos.
Los chicos caminan arduamente como pequeños hombres,
fingiendo que no tienen preocupaciones.
Cuando el último niño alcanza
la cima de la colina,
una rama baja del arce se balancea.
Uno de los niños, ahora más cerca de casa,
arranca una hoja del árbol
para escuchar el sonido que el mundo hace
cuando interferimos con él.
There — where you see a gradual
decline, beside a raggedy field, mostly dirt,
where new apartment houses will soon be built —
children are walking home from school.
Light beats down from a strict, cloudless sky.
The girls cradle their books in their arms.
The boys trudge ahead like little men,
pretending they have no worries.
When the last child reaches
the bottom of the hill,
a low branch of a maple is bobbing.
One of the children, now closer to home,
has torn a leaf from it
to hear the sound the world makes
when we interfere with it.
Why We Don’t Have Solar Energy
found poem from Capital
It was partly
the want of streams
with a good fall on them,
in other respects
that compelled the Dutch
to resort to wind
as a motive power.
The wind-mill itself
they got from Germany,
where its invention
was the origin
of a petty squabble
and the Emperor,
as to which
of these three
the wind “belonged.”
first published, in somewhat different form,
in Gobshite Quarterly, issue 8/9
This One’s for You
Even if you didn’t have green eyes (in the bathtub, blue).
Even if you didn’t have a lovely singing voice,
or care for Alexandrine champagne
some slow Saturday evenings to sing it through,
it pleases me, your lips close to my ear,
or when you’re a big girl, and I’m a big girl too.
Five years difference between we two.
Sometimes it hardly matters. I’ve decided to worship you,
Diana, goddess of the forest—
or is she the one of the hunt?
Who cares? You remind me of her
too. Some woman caught me up, breathless, in her strong arms,
said breathe, darling. Her eyes were green-blue.
Vague resemblances: that’s the daily news.
Meaning: I’m willingly a fool for you
any hour past midnight,
and almost anytime in three-quarter view.
Consider this, too: stumbling back, after a fight,
to someplace we could call home, you and I have been known
to duet a jubilee so funky it sounds like the blues.
What steady arrows you shoot, Diana, become
a goddess of the hearth: you whisper
time to put the porchlight on,
and we do. Who am I talking to?
What is this strange glare, this prescience that you won’t be true?
Sometimes you say something like even so, boo,
and it sounds like breathe, darling. That’s why this one’s for you.
Waiting for This Story to End Before I Begin
All my stories are about being left,
all yours about leaving. So we should have known.
Should have known to leave well enough alone;
we knew, and we didn’t. You said let’s put
our cards on the table, your card
was your body, the table my bed, where we didn’t
get till 4 am, so tired from wanting
what we shouldn’t that when we finally found our heads,
we’d lost our minds. Love,I wanted to call you
so fast. But so slow you could taste each
letter licked into your particular and rose-like ear.
L, love, for let’s wait. O, for oh no, let’s not. V
for the precious v between your deep breasts
(and the virtue of your fingers
in the voluptuous center of me.)
Okay, E for enough.
Dawn broke, or shattered. Once we’ve made
the promises, it’s hard to add the prefix if. . . .
But not so wrong to try.
That means taking a lot of walks,
which neither of us is good at,
for different reasons, and nights up till 2
arguing whose reasons are better.
Time and numbers count a lot in this. 13
years my marriage. 5 years you my friend.
4th of July weekend when something that begins
in mist, by mistake (whose?), means too much
has to end. I think we need an abacus to get our love
on course, and one of us to oil the shining rods
so we can keep the crazy beads clicking,
clicking. It wasn’t a question
of a perfect fit. Theoretically,
it should be enough to say I left a man
for a woman (90% of the world is content
to leave it at that. Oh, lazy world) and when the woman
lost her nerve, I left
for greater concerns: when words like autonomy
were useful, I used them, I confess. So I get
what I deserve: a studio apartment he paid the rent on;
bookshelves up to the ceiling she drove
the screws for. And a skylight I sleep alone
beneath, and two shiny quarters in my pocket
to call one, then the other, or to call one
twice. Once, twice, I threatened to leave him—
remember? Now that I’ve done it, he says
he doesn’t. I’m in a phonebooth at the corner of Bank
and Greenwich; not a booth, exactly,
but two sheets of glass to shiver between.
This is called being street-smart: dialing
a number that you know won’t be answered,
but the message you leave leaves proof that you tried.
And this, my two dearly beloveds, is this called
hedging your bets? I fish out my other
coin, turn it over in my fingers, press
it into the slot. Hold it there. Let it drop.
Every time I pick up the pen, I write myself out of the canon. Who said that? Mina Loy? Maybe it was me.
* * *
This book is wonderful. Why didn’t I read this
before. Before what? Why didn’t
I read everything? Why didn’t
I read everything before? Before
what? Before I felt like
I should have read some-
thing before. When was
I became the person who needs
to have read it
before. But maybe
if I had read it before,
I wouldn’t be the person
who needs to read it now. I’d
be another person, and I’d need
to read something else I
* * *
S. says long sections of P.’s novel are stolen. He goes to courthouse records, provincial libraries, he finds transcripts and journals that he drops into his text like stars, like his own stars, when they are really the stars of another. “I’m a thief,” S. says P. told him after too many glasses of wine. P., who is also a novelist, spends half the night getting us to agree (immediately) that this is wrong.
* * *
Demeter, sister of Zeus, goddess of grain and agriculture. Persephone, her daughter, abducted by Hades. Disguised as an old woman, Demeter goes searching among mortals. She arrives at Eleusis, where she is employed as an attendant of Queen Mateaneira, who recognizes her nobility, bade her sit and eat and drink. She remains standing, apart, until a slave woman called Iambe lifts up her skirt and makes her laugh.
* * *
MY WHOLE LIFE
He wouldn’t give me cancer’s email because he was afraid I might write something that would hurt its feelings.
* * *
i want to
interrogate my childhood, drag it
into the station house, taunt
it with cigarettes,
glare the overhead lightbulb
in its eyes and demand
whereas, a.m. says, “i can’t get past my unknowing, which, at times, unexpectedly, brings me joy.”