The Real People

I see the chaos being fomented in Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia… All places where I have had the fortune to travel and the misfortune to read the news of those countries forever after… They are locked in my heart like the humble pleasures of nostalgia for friends in my country of origin. Yet health has always forced me back to Canada… So this verse by Danish poet Benny Andersen is so perfectly apt for how so many around me in the “West” see the “3rd World”. The rise of poverty and disaster tourism is a “thing”. But so is the benevolent tyranny of the friendly tourist, dangling luxury consumption like an emerald green light in front of those who work in and around tourism. This poem is truly one that speaks to this time.

, El Valiente/The Brave One, Kaushalya Bannerji 2019

The real people
To travel
away from the hot water bottle and pork sausage
out to the real places
where the real people eat real food
live in real houses with real balconies
speak real, walk real
stop real
really get in trouble
have real children with real eyes
far from pork sausage and the hot water bottle
down south
in the south there’s colors, atmosphere
all the houses resemble famous old paintings
all the people can sing and look like famous statues
often substitute for them
in the south you drink wine
in the south you’re excitable all year round
in the south you do everything out in the open
love, fight, live, whistle, die
really
it’s inborn
in the north you have runny noses cancer envy
in the north you walk around the puddles
around the statues
around one another
in the north you drink milk
in the north you have to think about your health
in the north you’re stiff with health
in the north you’re right
in the north you don’t budge an inch
in the north
in the north
you go south
where the real people have real cats
real lice
real teeth, sores, contrasts
you meet at the real places and hold real parties
where the real blood rushes
everyone knows one another
far from the hot water bottle and pork sausage.

The Nobodies/Homage to Galeano, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Ma, Ek Paisa Hobey, Ma? Kaushalya Bannerji, 2019

Poetry for the Peeps! Adam Zagajewski

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.

May Twilight, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020