viernes, 13 de mayo de 2016

JEE LEONG KOH [18.705]

Jee Leong Koh

Poeta y escritor nacido en Singapur y vive en Nueva York. Es profesor, autor de cuatro poemarios y un libro de ensayos poéticos. Su más reciente libro de poemas Steep Tea (Carcanet Press) ha sido elegido mejor libro de 2015 por el Financial Times. 

Su colección de ensayos,  The Pillow Book (Math Paper Press) fue finalista del Premio Singapur de Literatura en el año 2014. Su obra ha sido traducida al japonés, chino y ruso. Desde la ciudad de Nueva York, dirige el sitio web de artes Singapur Poesía, la Segunda Serie de lectura los sábados y el Festival de Literatura de Singapur.

 Translator: Alexander Best  |

“No Eva…Solo era una cantidad excesiva del Amor, su Culpa.”

(Aemilia Lanyer, poetisa inglés, 1569 – 1645, en su obra Salve 
Deus Rex Judaeorum:  La Apología de Eva por La Mujer, 1611)

“Eva, La Culpable”

Aunque se ha ido del jardín, no se para de amarles…
Dios le convenció cuando sacó rápidamente de su manga planetaría
un ramo de luz.   Miraron pasar el desfile de animales.
Le contó el chiste sobre el Arqueópterix, y se dio cuenta de
las plumas y las garras brutales – un poema – el primero de su tipo.
En una playa, alzado del océano con un grito, él entró en ella;
y ella, en olas onduladas, notó que el amor une y separa.

El serpiente fue un tipo más callado.  Llegaba durante el otoño al caer la tarde,
viniendo a través de la hierba alta, y apenas sus pasos dividió las briznas.
Cada vez él le mostró una vereda diferente.  Mientras que vagaban,
hablaron de la belleza de la luz golpeando en el árbol abedul;
el comportamiento raro de las hormigas;   la manera más justa de
partir en dos una manzana.
Cuando apareció Adán, el serpiente se rindió a la felicidad la mujer Eva.

…Porque ella era feliz cuando encontró a Adán bajo del árbol de la Vida
– y aún está feliz – y Adán permanece como Adán:   inarticulado, hombre de mala ortografía;
su cuerpo estando centrado precariamente en sus pies;  firme en su mente que
Eva es la mujer pristina y que él es el hombre original.   Necesitó a ella
y por eso rasguñó en el suelo – y creyó en el cuento de la costilla.
Eva necesitó a la necesidad de Adán – algo tan diferente de Dios y el Serpiente,
Y después de éso ella se encontró a sí misma afuera del jardín.

“Not Eve, whose Fault was only too much Love.”
(Aemilia Lanyer, English poetess, 1569 – 1645, in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum:  
Eve’s Apologie in Defence of Women, 1611)

“Eve’s Fault”

Though she has left the garden, she does not stop loving them.
God won her when he whipped out from his planetary sleeve
a bouquet of light. They watched the parade of animals pass.
He told her the joke about the Archaeopteryx, and she noted
the feathers and the killing claws, a poem, the first of its kind.
On a beach, raised from the ocean with a shout, he entered her
and she realized, in rolling waves, that love joins and separates.

The snake was a quieter fellow. He came in the fall evenings
through the long grass, his steps barely parting the blades.
Each time he showed her a different path. As they wandered,
they talked about the beauty of the light striking the birch,
the odd behavior of the ants, the fairest way to split an apple.
When Adam appeared, the serpent gave her up to happiness.

For happy she was when she met Adam under the tree of life,
still is, and Adam is still Adam, inarticulate, a terrible speller,
his body precariously balanced on his feet, his mind made up
that she is the first woman and he the first man. He needed
her and so scratched down and believed the story of the rib.
She needed Adam’s need, so different from God and the snake
– and that was when she discovered herself outside the garden.

Steep Tea, Jee Leong Koh (Carcanet, July 2015)

In His Other House

In this house there is no need to wait for the verdict of history
And each page lies open to the version of every other.
– Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, In Her Other House

In my other house too, books fill the floor-to-ceiling shelves,
not only books on stock markets, seven habits, ghost stories,
but also poetry, Arthur Yap, Cyril Wong, Alfian Sa’at,
and one who moved away and who wrote Days of No Name.

My father comes home from the power station. When rested
(and this is how I know this is not real) he reads to us again,
for the seventh time, Philip Jeyaretnam’s Abraham’s Promise
in a quiet voice, unbroken by a frightened young supervisor.

When he closes the book, my dead grandfather stirs heavily
and says a word or two, that really says he has been listening.
And my beloved, knowing his cue, jumps up from the couch
to clear the dishes, for, he says, dishes don’t wash themselves.

Softly brightened by a feeling I do not hurry to identify,
I move to the back of him and put my arms around his waist.
His muscles twitch like the needle on a motorboat’s dashboard
as he turns a bone china plate against a rough cotton cloth.

The light from the window looks like a huge, blank sea.
In this other house there will be time to fill it but right now
the bell intones in silver, and here, on a surprise night visit,
are my sister and her two daughters coming through the door.

Jee Leong Koh’s new collection, Steep Tea

Poem after Four Months of Silence

The first fluency
           has left me. Sex has
                    acquired history.
I grow afraid of
           repeating myself
                    unknowingly. Love,
new man, old enemy,
           you enclose me with
                    your mouth. Go slowly

Don’t Go, Sweet Mother

Once I was the most beautiful rose in my mother’s rose garden.
But now he has plucked me, and in his hands I am wilting.
“Edes Anyam,” Hungarian bridal lament

Don’t go, sweet Mother,
don’t open your hands

like spring flowers,
like the sun,

hands that wrung
the curtains dry.

When did mother mean
losing a child?

The day you planted
the first roses?

The day you taught me
to say please?

Your face is a fist
but I am not in it.


White voice, secret signal,
unreadable days,

moonless night,
hollow between the hills—

I name him
to make him familiar.

Not husband,
the name others give.

It touches nothing
in my ears,

the fear

of being disappointing
and disappointed.


Goodbye, bent kettle,
to your shining ditty,

old clock, goodbye,
my knowing friend,

pink tiles, sunset
to the feet, goodbye,

goodbye, high cot,
crazy quilt, good-bye,

goodbye, bay window,
stop looking out for me,

girls in wool pullovers
they knitted in the fall,

boys brown in the neck
and in the arms.

The Dream Child

—so what will Baby/be tomorrow?—
Antonia Pozzi, “The Dreamed Life”

Who speaks to me speaks
to a stir—
in air, a ripple
of veil—perhaps—
caused the ripple,
hard to tell.


But body is sensed—
joy—as possibility,
everything small
but perfect,
lips capable
of taking


They walk
the woods as others
make love,
the man who
will be sent away
to Rome,

the girl who will lean
back on grass—
until the slight wind


These children—not theirs—
take up so much space.
They tug, they push.
They stride ahead, expecting the world
to give way.
Even when they tumble,
they cover

I watch behind the elm
and step out—
a shadow.


Only when I open
my throat—
to call, to hiss—
do I
a place,
as when the sound
of the sea takes up the room
of a shell,
or when sky is skylark.


In their rage,
the dead break
things—soup bowls,
flour mills.
I can see
them, foreheads
but they can’t
see—the unborn.

They think they are
looking at a loaf
of fire, water
becoming soup.


Whatever else
I am, I am
the earth-clod
on which my parents step
together, her feet

on his feet.
Her fingers weave
between his fingers
like ropes
around a raft.

White wisps—
on a second
as cloud
and sail off.

I am
left behind.


My young mother, my young corpse,
black album
of images—I stroke:
girl graduate,
political meetings,
Alpine flowers,
gay ribbons.

You have baby


You call me
but know me
as entombed waters.
The pen dips
in the waters

and writes its
message of love.


To be held
your body,

to be fed
by sun

to be cooled
by goodness,

to be born…

to redeem
and be redeemed.


my mother calls in the dark.
I run
towards the name
of my father’s
dead brother.

I hear her sweet
but I can’t find her
in the woods.

I run
not with a marguerite
but bayonet.


Because my father loves my mother’s eyes,
I have her blue eyes.
The more he loves, the more blue.

I have her heart
that beats so fast that I am afraid
it will burst.

At night my sex
opens and opens—
impure lips—
to swallow

the moon.


A blessing,
a blessing and—dismissal
of what has already left.

From the interior
of the church—
you see a fountain
shooting up
and toppling,
at a distance too far
to be heard.

The mind has to
provide the music. 


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