Soy scritor y editor, nacido el 6 de mayo, 1975 y criado en Puerto España, Trinidad y Tobago.
Editor de The Caribbean Review of Books (2004-presente) y travel magazine Caribbean Beat (2003–2006, then 2012–present). También soy co-director del espacio de arte contemporáneo y la red de Alice Yard, y director del programa Bocas Lit Fest, un festival literario anual. Mis ensayos (con frecuencia sobre el arte y los artistas del Caribe), comentarios, etc. han sido publicados en diversos libros y publicaciones periódicas. Mi libro de poemas The Strange Years of My Life fue publicado en 2015.
Selección y versión al español de Jorge Valdés Díaz-Vélez
Una flor nombrada por un pájaro.
Un pájaro en picada como lluvia.
Lluvia del tamaño de una isla.
Una isla arrugada como mi mano.
Mi mano caliente como mi lengua.
Mi lengua nueva como una flor.
Una hoja limpia como una pluma.
Una pluma empapada como una cuerda.
Cuerda para amarrar un mapa.
Un mapa manchado por mis dedos.
Mis dedos en mis dientes.
Mis dientes rasgando una hoja.
Tu piel revestida como una flor.
Tu cuello distante como el de un pájaro.
Tus ojos como espirales de lluvia.
Tu cuerpo desconocido como una isla.
Un rubor tan caliente como tus manos.
Un secreto como tu lengua.
A flower named for a bird.
A bird swooping like rain.
Rain the size of an island.
An island creased like my hand.
My hand hot as my tongue.
My tongue new as a flower.
A leaf clean as a feather.
A feather drenched like string.
String to tie up a map.
A map smudged by my fingers.
My fingers in my teeth.
My teeth tearing a leaf.
Your skin furred like a flower.
Your neck aloof as a bird´s.
Your eyes like spirals of rain.
Your body unknown as an island.
A blush as hot as your hands.
A secret like your tongue.
A poem by Nicholas Laughlin
Published in The Strange Years of My Life
Everything Went Wrong
Don’t mention my name in your letters.
Don’t write down my address.
In fact, better not write letters at all.
Better no one knows that you can write.
You’ll know not to drink the water.
You’ll know not to travel by night.
Don’t carry foreign banknotes.
Never give your name when you pay the bill.
You will need a shot at the border.
The needles are perfectly safe.
Yellow fever can’t be allowed to pass.
I knew a man who died in just three days.
The weather turned truly nasty.
It flooded ten miles around.
A boat capsized. A box was swept away.
I couldn’t afford to bribe the customs guard.
Don’t trust the maps: they are fictions.
Don’t trust the guides: they drink.
In this country there’s no such thing as “true north.”
Don’t trust natives. Don’t trust fellow travellers.
Better no one knows you sleep alone.
Already no one remembers you at home.
“I knew a man who died in just three days”: said to me by a Canadian man, an official of a gold-mining company, at breakfast one morning at the Georgetown Club, on my first visit to Guyana. I’d been travelling in the interior for two weeks and came back to town with a fever. The Canadian saw I was unwell and cheerfully advised me to get a malaria test. Luckily there was a clinic just a block away. The slip of paper with my “negative”’ test result is my favourite souvenir of that trip.
I probably borrowed the “swept away” box from Robert Schomburgk’s Guiana journals, but the rest of the poem is fiction (more or less). I have never considered bribing a customs guard.
I Discover I Am Russian
I discover I have a Russian heart.
I discover I am a small boy with a heart full of stones,
a bag of stones.
They click like the heartbeat of a clock.
In Russia this is how we sleep,
the small weights of our hearts shifting from left to right,
sliding and clicking as we tumble through the night.
In Russia our livers are carved of petrified wood
and our lungs are stuffed with black moss.
Iciest water climbs and falls in our veins,
salt meeting cold with small electric shivers,
tinkling the wet stones of our hearts.
In Russia when I am in love
my heart crashes terribly against my ribs,
wonderful they do not crack.
In Russia when I am in love
one by one I press the stones of my heart
into a birch-twig sling, but they don’t fly far.
In Russia I walk for ten miles every day
when the sun rises at midnight
over a minor planet of salt.
When the sun rises at noon,
I walk only as far as I can sling a stone.
from Small Husband
Small husband, I have been longing for you,
parched and hugging my tinder heart.
This afternoon too tranced and hot,
dusk too cautious and hot and silent,
night reluctant, each hot hour
holding its breath, what is it waiting to hear?
Small husband, you hide among the ants,
you wait among the thorns, your eyes green as the setting sun,
a heartbeat hunting a red stone under the leaves,
Small husband, is this where you will drink?
Small husband, I too sleep alone,
tied to myself, limb to limb to limb,
a hitch of grass and hair and string,
weighed in the earth of my bed, cold and red.
Small husband, I too never sleep
in the loud night, the night like a bed of stone,
each star like a pebble flung to glass.
Small husband, you watch at dawn,
you call like a necklace of cold water in the rocks,
raincloud in your throat, a song like drowning,
breath battling the dark drag of desire,
a song of names that cannot be pronounced or repeated.
Small husband, I want to follow you
up the scarlet ladder of your throat,
the thread you snag from leaf to leaf
with knots to show I cannot follow on,
a shivering string that snags too in my wrist.
My little king,
I dream you crouch in my thighs and watch through my eyes
the failed flight of my hands,
you creep in my shirt and your claws clutch tight in my lungs
so I breathe in winces, like a bird.
Small as you are,
is there room in your breast for me,
a sprout of green,
for a long mystery, a great fire,
an arrow, an echo,
Little bird of a lion’s eye.
Granite and heart and sun.
Rainstorm mane like lightning round your shoulders.
Heart of three hearts, hunger of three hungers.
Three white seeds in the wormwood bud of your tongue.
They should have known by your velocity,
twenty thousand miles an hour aiming,
hurtle like a question’s arc,
longing to be a circle.
Little king, I am nervous as newborn leaves,
the clouded absinthe of my eyes,
my neck clean for the sickle of your tongue.
The time was a page on which too much had been written,
in the racing hands of too many months and years.
Names of correspondents, station names,
dates of conversations, book reviews,
fragments of memoirs, directions to new hotels.
Mais que suis-je venu faire sur cette Terre?
And lives of pianists and architects and saints.
And the page was creased with too many hurried unfoldings.
And the houses grumbled with the weight of lists and pages.
The scent of lilies, the drawl of lazy études.
It took longer to read about those months than to live them.
“It astonished me that my friends could be so forgiving.”
“I was certain those meetings in April could never be repeated;
November proved me wrong.” “I was surely lucky,
for S——— had told no one else about my discovery.”
“I was right.” “It was there.” “It had gone.” “I was barely mistaken.”
“We never read so much as we did on that visit.
We can have done nothing but read the entire week.
We walked in the afternoons, but even then
all we talked about was what we were reading.”
A generation decided together in silence
to have done with fiction and to renounce the stage.
Nothing seemed lost. Everyone kept a diary.
Every remark or detail was preserved in their letters.
Three piano notes came drifting through the house
like yellow leaves, then the curtain swept them away.
No, they came like footsteps that hesitate,
or three pages that slowly turn in the evening draught.
He watched the pages turn and history begin.
Already many hands were crossing and tracing
in the steelpoint light of many jars of ink.
Three leaves fell, and already too much had been written.
“Mais que suis-je venu faire sur cette Terre?”: from Recoins de ma vie, by Erik Satie.
I can no longer remember exactly which of Satie’s piano compositions I had in mind in the last stanza, but his first Gymnopédie is close enough.
“We can have done nothing but read the entire week”: this line more or less deliberately echoes Virginia Woolf’s essay “Hours in a Library”:
“... it would not be hard to prove by an assembly of facts that the great season for reading is the season between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. The bare list of what is read then fills the heart of older people with despair. It is not only that we read so many books, but that we had such books to read.... if we follow the reader through his months it is clear that he can have done practically nothing but read.”