The International Literary Quarterly

November 2008


Gillian Beer
Amit Chaudhuri
Jonathan Dunne
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Ernest Farrés
Paul Giles
Mina Gorji
Geoffrey Hartman
Christopher Lane
Andrew Motion
Wendy O' Shea-Meddour
Tanyo Ravicz
Lawrence Venuti
Stanley Wells
Augustus Young

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Consulting Editor: Marjorie Agosín
Consulting Editor: Jill Dawson
Consulting Editor: Denise Duhamel
Consulting Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Consulting Editor: Mimi Khalvati
Consulting Editor: Suzanne Jill Levine
Consulting Editor: Margot Livesey
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor:
Jeff Barry
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Issue 5 Guest Artist: Tom Phillips

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Four Poems from Edward Hopper (2006) by Ernest Farrés
Translated from the Catalan by Lawrence Venuti


Small Town Station, 1918-1920

Me and dreams where futures bud
with milestones-to-grind-for.
Not without strain, me again
and the irrefutable trial and error
of getting a life.
and toothpaste
to freshen up the breath.
Shortcuts that head straight
to stations and pools of light. The blue
of columbine and the blue of jacaranda.
One bar is set lower, another higher.
Winds that swell the stratocumulus
and winds that sweep them away clumsy-like.
Stray cats and dead alleys
in the tiny center of town.
Sluggishness and couldn’tgiveadamnism.
Hmmm . . . how strange to leave (and not to leave).
Hustle-bustle and hush-hush.
Wrist movements and digging in the heels.
Twenty to, a quarter, ten.
Luggage on the platform and cigarette butts on the ground.
Moral values and security cameras. A whole
jumble of incandescent faces and consumer
goods (which I shouldn’t like to be called that).
And, some day, you and me.



East River, c. 1920-1923

The greatest influence
     my reading of Siddartha
     exercised on me
     had much to do with rivers.
Ever since that moment
     they acquired a meaning
     most profound and symbolic.
     For a while I’ve played with the edge
of knowing we live in a never-ending
     dream. I refer to an urban dream jam-packed
     with buildings, hydrocarbons, aromatic mint teas,
     textile factories, tanneries, and a river
that reflects the essence of dusk and provokes
     a weird effect, cathartic and liberating. The city
     institutes laws and rivers are rebels that try their damndest
     to break them (although they rarely get away with it).

Every river is a type
     of dream that lies inside
     a more global dream of life,
     and flowing it resembles us:
descending from pretty far away
     by fits and starts, it disseminates
     and embodies the spirit
     of what could have been.



Office at Night, 1940

They stayed at the office, at night, alone,
and the tense atmosphere
wherein they find themselves plunges them
into uncertainty. The workplace
is their habitat, the substitute
for their homes. Forces
suprapersonal constrain
them both (this is called not letting on).
Beyond the slightest doubt,
shyness has taken root in them.
After knocking off, their cares are less intense
and before long forgotten (Deo gratias).
Private people suffering in private places
or, better than places, in a warren
of white walls and functional furniture.
Disturbed when confronting the idea
of a night sky filled with stars, the man,
the atomized and lonely man,
clings to the messiness of his desk.
The woman, standing at the file cabinet,
fishes for documents or something-or-other.
Sure enough, said woman’s dreams
and the man’s scruples converge
in a chronic fiasco. Anxiety
invades her till she loses
every point of reference.

This is the closed circle
through which they sink
from spiritual withdrawal
to absolute, physical solitude.



Rocky Seashore, 1916-1919

Some twenty meters below,
the breaker lays bare the tidal currents
that whip the coastline
with waves remote-controlled
smashing against reefs
patches of rubble-coarsened beach
and sea-stacks that stand erect, like clenched fists,
offshore. Whoever descends there,
gingerly picking his steps, will bear witness--
from the privileged spot on the rockbed
amidst a mass of foamy curls--
to unique, soothing perspectives
where the hereafter and immediacy,
totality and nothing correspond.

Things start to vaporize,
an incommensurable plenitude
revives the senses inside out
and for the first time in your life
you aspire to unconditional love
and transcendence.