Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

Poet, Artist, Educator

                 

 

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In the Poet's Spotlight for September 2007:  Rei Berroa

Rei Berroa (Ph.D. Pittsburgh, 1983) is the author of numerous books of poems and literary criticism, among them Libro de los fragmentos y otros poemas (Caracas, Venezuela, 2007);  Book of Fragments [Calcutta, India 1993] (a translation of  Libro de los fragmentos [Buenos Aires, 1988]);  Los otros [Santo Domingo, 1981]; Ideología y retórica (México, 1988); and Retazos para un traje de tierra [Madrid, 1979].  Originally from the Dominican Republic, he has been teaching Spanish literature and literary criticism at George Mason University since 1984. He served as the faculty advisor to Hispanic Culture Review from 1992-2006 and was awarded the GMU Faculty Advisor of the Year Award in 2002. He has been the Literary Advisor to Arlington’s Teatro de la Luna since its foundation in 1991 and coordinates every year, with the Theater, the Poetry Marathon, two days of poetry readings at the Library of Congress, the Theater’s own Casa de la Luna, and other venues. This Marathon brings together poets from Spanish-speaking countries.  Since 2001, he has been publishing an anthology of the poets invited to the Festival.  In 2006, with the Arlington Arts Center, he founded the poetry contest and mentoring program, In Two Tongues / En dos lenguas, for poets from the mid-Atlantic region in the United States.

Index of Berroa's Poems: Scroll down or click on Poem Title

Poems of Rei Berroa (below)  © copyright Rei Berroa, All rights reserved.

TRES VARIACIONES SOBRE EL TEMA
DE LA PAZ Y LA PALOMA

I
Es tanta la paz de una paloma
que dicen los expertos en la paz
que sólo bastaría una paloma
para traer sobre la tierra toda la paz
que buscan los humanos sin saberlo.

II
Son tantas las palomas de la paz
que dicen los expertos en palomas
que sólo una paz sería necesaria
para atraer a todas las palomas
que buscan al humano sin remedio.

III
Si la paz se vistiera de paloma
dicen los expertos en humanos
con una sola paz nos bastaría
para darle sus alas a la tierra
haciendo del humano una paloma.

           No es mucho pedirle
           a la paz o a la paloma.

                        [Del libro Palomas pensajeras]

 

Back to Index    English Translation

NO SE ME CAIGA, HERMANO

 

¿A qué mirar los ventanales del acento del dormido

si al que duerme se le pierde el escalón en la mirada desde el aire?

 

¿A qué soltar las golondrinas en el cuerpo

si hay tan poco que olvidar para el otoño?

 

¿A qué escapar del estampido del que ama

si hay ombligos como lunas en el tiempo de la tierra?

 

No se me caiga, hermano.

 

Levante sus históricos zapatos,

agarre su tambora y su machete

y aplíquese al trabajo y su alegría.

 

Entre todos podemos segar la mala hierba

y llenar nuestras aceras de sombreros

compartiendo nuestros panes y guitarras.

 

Sepa usted

que en el amargo sueño del que se cree vencido

aletea siempre un ruiseñor encarcelado

que algún día volará a su nido.

 

 

                                    [Poema 22 del libro Los otros]

Back to Index   English Translation

ACID RAIN

 

 

Me meto en esta orilla del terráqueo globo

donde arguyen los que saben y especulan sobre el tiempo

que el clima va templado.

 

Indago alrededores:

¿Qué es esto digo

si pregunto por el aire

y me llegan hediondeces

que transmutan y envenenan los sentidos

o me quitan la flor de la memoria

y al asfalto me lo ponen contra el pie

contra la grama?

 

¿Dónde están las plantas

el árbol de follaje

que lechos producía para el agua?

¿Dónde el pájaro o el pasto?

 

¿Qué fue del caminante aquel

que el hacha sobre el hombro

anduvo investigando

por dónde se llegaba a las raíces de esta lluvia

que reduce lentamente

el porvenir y mi pulmón?

 

Ni encuentro al caminante

ni puedo tocar el pasto sin herirme.

Y en vez de los follajes y del agua

soló un ruido de motores que trae el viento

y en vez de aquella brisa y el paisaje

un vago olor a desperdicios y bencina

herida gravemente la verdad por el político

y calvo el pájaro.

 

 

            [Poema II, Libro de los fragmentos]

Back to Index   English Translation

LOS ATUENDOS

 

 

No te arrodilles para vivir.

Desnúdate:

Precisarás para tu viaje variedades de vestidos

que te ayuden a vencer las cuatro edades.

 

Deshaz tu corazón de fiestas vanas.

Descúbrete:

Nadie podrá cortar con sus normas y mantillas

la túnica inconsútil de tu cuerpo irrepetible.

 

Despójate de cruces y campanas.

Descálzate: No tienes que buscar

en los armarios de la tierra sandalias

que desprecien tu contacto con la calle o el vivir.

 

Echa al aire tus pellejos resonantes y camina.

No le des cabida al odio, ni a la envidia o la mentira.

Acude a tus reuniones en la casa, en el aula o el oficio

respetuoso, informado, concurrente.

 

Pero nunca te arrodilles para vivir.

 

Las madres elementales ya cortaron los retazos

que usarás todos los días dignamente:

ésos son tus brazos, es tu boca, son ésos tus recuerdos.

Con llanto has irrumpido por no saber lo que pasaba

y te irás sin descubrir el para qué de tu vivir.

 

Hilvana tu atavío esperanzado en saber

que llegarás a descubrir con el paso de los años

el traje que le venga mejor a tus hombros y cintura,

a tus muslos, la entrepierna o las axilas. Ya verás

que con piezas de vacías o repletas coincidencias

amarás el existir

que irás tejiendo y desliando día a día en la corriente…

 

Pero no te arrodilles jamás para vivir.

 

                                    [Primer poema del libro Retazos para un traje de tierra]

 

Back to Index   English Translation

(English Translation)

 

THREE VARIATIONS ON THE THEME
OF PEACE AND THE DOVE

 

 I
So great is the peace of one dove
that the experts on peace say
one dove alone would be enough
to spread over the earth all the peace
that humans search for without knowing.

 

II
So many are the doves of peace
that the experts on doves say
one peace alone would be needed
to attract all the doves
which hopelessly search for the human.

 

III
If peace clothed itself as a dove
say the experts on humans
one peace alone would be sufficient
to give its wings to the earth
making the human a dove

 

                       It is not much to ask
                       of peace or the dove.
 

[English version by Ana Alonso & Rei Berroa]
[From the book Palomas pensajeras]


 

Back to Index   Spanish Translation

(English Translation)

 

DON’T SLIP AWAY, MY FRIEND

 

Why look at the large windows of the sleeping one’s accent

if the one who sleeps misses a step while looking from the air?

 

Why let the swallows loose in the body

if there is so little to forget in the autumn?

 

Why escape the stampede of the one who loves

if there are navels like moons in the time of the earth?

 

Don’t slip away, my friend.

 

Lift up your historic shoes,

grab your drum and your machete

and apply yourself at work and its happiness.

 

We can all together eliminate the weeds

and fill our sidewalks with hats

sharing our bread and guitars.

 

Be aware

that in the bitter dream of the one that feels defeated

always flaps an imprisoned nightingale

that some day will fly back to its nest.

 

 

                        [From the book Los otros]

                        [Translated by Ana Alonso with Rei Berroa]

Back to Index   Spanish Translation

(English Translation)

 

ACID RAIN

 

 

I place myself onto this shore of the terraqueous globe

where those who know and speculate about weather

reveal that our climate is to be temperate.

 

I search all around:

What is this, I say

if I ask about the air

and they send revolting stenches

that transmute and poison my senses

or they rob the flower of memory

and they pour asphalt against my feel,

against the grass?

 

Where are the plants

the tree of foliage

that produced riverbeds for the water?

 

Where is the bird or the pasture?

What became of that wanderer

who, his ax on his shoulder,

spent his time searching

the roots of this rain

that slowly shrinks

the future and my lungs?

 

Neither can I find the wanderer

nor can I touch the pasture

without wounding myself.

And instead of the foliage and the water,

only the noise of motors in the wind,

and instead of that breeze and countryside,

a vague odor of garbage and gasoline,

truth seriously wounded by the politician,

and the bird, bald.

 

            [From Book of Fragments]

                [Translated by Tom Jones and Rei Berroa]

Back to Index   Spanish Translation

(English Translation)

 

OUTFITS

 

Do not kneel down to live.

Take your clothes off:

You will need for your trip a variety of dresses

that will help you conquer the four ages.

 

Undo your heart of parties in vain.

Discover yourself:

No one will be able to cut with their rules and veils

the seamless tunic of your unrepeatable body.

 

Do away with crosses and bells.

Take off your shoes. You do not need to look

in the wardrobes of the earth for sandals

that despise your contact with the street or life.

 

Throw up in the air your boisterous skin and walk.

Do not harbor hatred, nor envy or lie.

Attend your meetings at home, in the classroom or the office

respectful, informed, updated.

 

But never kneel down to live.

 

The elemental mothers already cut the remnants

that you will use every day with dignity:

this is your mouth, those are your arms, and those your memories.

Crying you have burst in not knowing what was going on

and you will depart without discovering the reason of your life.

 

Baste your outfits hoping to learn

that you will finally discover as the years pass by

the suit that better fits your shoulders and waist,

your thighs, crotch or armpits. You will see

that with pieces of empty or replenished coincidences

you will love the existence

you will be weaving and unfolding day after day in the current…

 

But do not ever kneel down to live.

 

 

[First poem from the book Retazos para un traje de tierra]

                                [Translated by Ana Alonso with Rei Berroa]

                                        

Back to Index  Spanish Translation

Come back each month and discover the work of other poets to be featured in the "Poet's Spotlight."

 

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