María Isabel Granda Larco (3 September 1920 – 8 March 1983), known as Chabuca Granda, was a Peruvian singer and composer. She was a trailblazer as a woman lyricist and composer, drawing on Peruvian Criollo music, as well as Afro-Peruvian rhythms, which were much devalued in high society of Lima at the time. It was a world which was plagued (and continues to be) by racism and classism toward Indigenous and Afro-descended peoples while highly dependent on their labour, particularly domestic labour provided by women workers who are often racialized as non-white. In this song, Chabuca shows her continual break with convention by centering the experiences of a working class woman and her labour. Enjoy some poetry put to music and sung by one of Peru’s most noted singers of the late 20th century!
Maria Lando by Chabuca Granda, Peru
La madrugada estalla como una estátua Como estátua de alas que se dispersan por la ciudad Y el mediodía cánta campana de agua Campana de agua de oro que nos prohibe la sóledad Y la noche levanta su copa larga Su larga copa larga, luna temprana por sobre el mar
Pero para María no hay madrugada Pero para María no hay mediodía Pero para María ninguna luna Alza su copa roja sobre las aguas…
María no tiene tiempo (María Landó) De alzar los ojos María de alzar los ojos (María Landó) Rotos de sueño María rotos de sueño (María Landó) De andar sufriendo María de andar sufriendo (María Landó) Sólo trabaja María sólo trabaja, sólotrabaja, sólo trabaja María sólo trabaja Y su trabajo es ajeno
Maria Lando, Chabuca Granda, Peru, Trans. Kaushalya Bannerji
Dawn breaks, exploding like a statue, like a statue of wings scattered All through the city And noon sings like a bell made of water A bell made of golden water that forbids loneliness And the night lifts its large goblet, its large goblet, large, an early moon over the sea
But for Maria there is no dawn But for Maria there is no midday But for Maria there is no moon raising its red goblet over the waters
Maria has no time to raise her eyes Maria ,to raise her eyes, broken by lack of sleep Maria, broken by lack of sleep ,from so much suffering Maria, from so much suffering, all she does is work
Maria just works and works, Maria only works, and her work is all for another.
This spring, the second of the covid19 pandemic, is another lockdown. I remember my fear and isolation during the first one, the first stay at home order I had ever experienced. I am grateful that I am able to be out in sun, sitting on my balcony and enjoying the calls of the birds. The cat is also filled with alertness and enjoyment from her whiskers to the tip of her tail! Birds, she feels, call to her! Sometimes she chitters back.
Easing back into the blog, I’ve made up for the Haiku challenges I’ve missed on Ronovan Writes. Here, I’ve written around the words suggested for the past three weeks. I hope you enjoy these new shoots of poems!
Chirping, spring perches on branches bare of verdant bloom. swift, full throated.
When fleas sneeze rats might scurry. plague upon both their nations! leave us be!
Oh comfort erupts when sun’s days grow longer yet shadow lies above
I’ve been a bit slow on the translation front. I’ve been working on a selection of poems from Cuba’s Georgina Herrera. This writer really captivated my interest when I was studying in Cuba for my doctoral research. Her slim paperback volumes were on display at UNEAC in the Vedado and my favourite poetry bookstore in La Habana, Fayad Jamis, in old Havana. Here is a latest attempt from me!
El pájaro amarillo vuelve a la rama verde
el pájaro amarillo.
más que posado está sobre la rama verde.
Semeja un cajigal que trina y se alza desde
uno a otro sitio.
El pájaro amarillo es una flor insólita,
un sol que se estremece
y cabe entre mis manos.
Deja en mí
no sé por qué, este pájaro,
un gozo inacabable.
Suave, entonces, me llenan unas ganas grandes
de verlo así, posado siempre
sobre la tristeza de todos, como
en mi corazón y
allí en la rama verde.
Yellow Bird (Trans. Kaushalya Bannerji)
The yellow bird returns to the green branch
It has returned
the yellow bird.
Perched more than posed on the green branch
She seems a conquering Cajigal that trills and flits
from one place to another.
The yellow bird is an insolent flower,
a sun that quivers and fits between my hands.
It leaves in me,
I don’t know why, that bird,
Softly, then I’m filled with great desire
to see it again, posing always
on the sadness of everyone, just as it is now,
in my heart and
there on the green branch.
(The name Cajigal refers to a Spaniard who subdued Venezuela among other places in the early 19th century. Wikipedia says, “In 1819 he was appointed captain general of Cuba and oversaw the restoration of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 in 1820. That same year he resigned due to health problems and retired to Guanabacoa, where he died in 1823.” My friend tells me that in her family, her Spanish Cuban grandmother used the word to mean a chaotic place. Further, many speculate it may be a species of tree deriving its name from an Aboriginal, perhaps Taino, language. I have picked the Governor’s name as it seems in keeping with Herrera’s theme.
I’ve been away from the blog for nearly a month this time. I’ve been grappling with flares of chronic health issues and also been feeling somewhat disheartened by the announcement of a surge of covid-19 patients where I live, the increasing shuttering of small businesses, the business as usual approach of capitalist warlords, the rise of tent cities in the parks around me and an ad-hoc business model of health care and public health management. It’s been hard to feel hopeful!
Meanwhile, the restrictions that exist are ludicrous and haphazard. Young people’s mental health has been seriously affected in Canada. Statistics show an increase in the demand for services with regard to mental health support. Insomnia and other problems are on the rise. Lone individuals are experiencing unprecedented isolation. All of these issues are having a huge psycho-social impact. It’s a time for this poem by Polish poet Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021).
Try to Praise the Mutilated World
BY ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI TRANSLATED BY CLARE CAVANAGH
Try to praise the mutilated world. Remember June’s long days, and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine. The nettles that methodically overgrow the abandoned homesteads of exiles. You must praise the mutilated world. You watched the stylish yachts and ships; one of them had a long trip ahead of it, while salty oblivion awaited others. You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere, you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully. You should praise the mutilated world. Remember the moments when we were together in a white room and the curtain fluttered. Return in thought to the concert where music flared. You gathered acorns in the park in autumn and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars. Praise the mutilated world and the gray feather a thrush lost, and the gentle light that strays and vanishes and returns.