Why do this?

My father, José Luis Villamizar Melo, passed away in my home town of Cúcuta, Colombia, in August last year. The law and economics were Dad's profession, but literature, history and academia his passion. He wrote and published several books, articles and book chapters. The thing is that so many people have missed out on his work, particularly on his beautiful poetry, which he wrote in Spanish prior to the world wide web. So I thought, what a better way to keep Dad's legacy alive than to bring his writing beyond his world and share it with mine. That is why I am translating over 250 of my Dad's poems to English and publishing them here, one a day, Monday to Friday during 2011 (Dad, a family man, always believed that you shouldn't work on weekends).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This is what my old Russian friend used to say (Esto decía mi viejo amigo ruso)

Another ode from my Dad’s book Boundaries (Confines).  This time to Viktor Borisovich Shklovsky (Saint Petersburg, 1893-1984), the Russian and Soviet critic, writer, and pamphleteer.

This is what my old Russian friend used to say (Esto decía mi viejo amigo ruso)

“Winter has come down
on the new roofs, covered
with zinc, from the new Moscow,
that I see from my window.”
                                 Victor Sklovski.

Poetry is the context.  A place for dreams.
Territory of mist.  Land of spikes of corn.
Scent of bursting garden beds.  Solitude.  Scarce time.
Intimate and mysterious craft.  Plough that
creates countless paths of unexpected prodigy.

In my hands I discover magic powers.
And the world suddenly fits in one word.

Mi loyal Russian friend was coming back
from so many things seen and written
by his colleagues and himself.
And he used to repeat “I have lived a long time,
I have seen how the dimensions of the Universe change,
my heart has turned upside down.”

However the only persistent thing, the constant in him,
was still his little prophetic voice,
the poetry in his uneven calligraphy
identical to the bright minds of the remote years
of the hard and enthusiastic beginning.

Intimate and mysterious craft, simple and grave.
Contradictory form of evasion on a fast steed,
indocile some times, tame others,
always a way to get up, to raise oneself a few inches
from the metre of land that we will occupy at the end.

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