Poetry, translation

Two poems on bullfighting by Jack Little

Two poems on bullfighting by Jack Little
with Spanish versions by Fer de la Cruz
(in the context of bullfighting being banned in a growing number Mexican states)

 

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A Lament for Ponciano Díaz
after Federico García Lorca

In the ganadería de Atenco
Ponciano Díaz´s father fought bulls
with a cloth in one hand and his child in the other.

In the evenings, his brother would sit on the other side of the room
the semi-darkness of the setting sun would leave half shadows:
the day´s sandy footprints, the dry spittle at the side of the old man´s mouth.

Tonight proclaims his fate is preordained
under the breath of a thousand secret voices:
some of us dwell in our passions more than others.

But before the stain of crimsons spines, and viscera between his sequins
the sunrise will be another part-renewal, grown boastful with swollen pride

the fight is in his veins.

 

Lamento por Ponciano Díaz
A la manera de Lorca

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En la ganadería de Atenco sucedió:
el padre de Ponciano lidiaba con los toros,
capota en una mano, el niño en otra.

Por las tardes, su hermano se sentaba al lado opuesto en la misma habitación
en tanto la semi penumbra del sol al ponerse dejaba medias sombras:
las arenosas huellas de ese día, las comisuras tiesas de su padre
con un reseco rastro de saliva.

Esta noche proclama su destino
al aliento de mil voces secretas:
algunos habitamos las pasiones mejor que algunos otros.

Pero antes de que el traje de luces sea opacado por las manchas de víscera escarlata,
el sol, renovador de amaneceres, engreído de su orgullosa pompa

será uno con la lidia fluyendo por sus venas.

 

1st poem

 

Poem 2

 

 

 

 From Jack Little´s Elsewhere (20/20 EYEWEAR PAMPLET SERIES, 2015)

 

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Jack Little is a British poet who has lived in Mexico City since 2010 where he works as a primary school teacher. He won the Titchfield Shakespeare Poetry Competition in 2013 and is the founding editor of The Ofi Press. His work has been widely published in the UK and in Mexico.

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Kreso3

painting by Kreso Cavlovic

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Graphic novel, translation

Neighborhood Rumors

by Gabriel Canul

01-Oh, poor little girl. Her story was such a terribly sad case.

You will see….

02

 The father was, well, a washed-up madman. For this he had such a lugubrious fame…

… that the ignorant minds of this neighborhood all but blamed him.

I don’t want to sound presumptuous but a man of my lineage cannot allow space for this kind of nonsense.

03

 He was a pathetic alcoholic, that you see sir, had banished his wife from his side.

As if the mother would be worth only a little or even nothing. She abandoned her little daughter with that bastard of a father.

04

Ha, ha, ha. Even though swine did end up paying a heavy price…

They say that the daughter hardened and found a way to defend herself against her father.

05

Not of course that I would contribute to this superstitious verbal diarrhea of the riffraff. As you know sir, I do not spread irresponsible hot air, even a few days before any of this happened, I saw the wretch walking by with a very terrible wound on his left arm. My head played with the idea that it could have been a bite.

06

Even though now, I reason that this kid could not possibly concur with this idea, in size nor strength.

Some type of gangrene had gotten hold of this fellow because the wound had festered and hurt him like the devil. Of course, it has to be said that he wasn’t known to be especially neat and tidy.

07(1)

Who would have said however that this nobody of a man would have such a terrible end?

08

They say that the little sweet girl, defenseless and all, could not escape the evilness of her father and remained nothing more than a pestilent stain beneath the bed.

09

It was inexplicable the manner in which they found this man’s bed.

A huge fit or rage had led the poor creature to undergo a mighty change.

10

 This must explain what happened.

11

They say that she was laughing

The smile on her face…

And her words…

I leave them behind, I have left them!

12

Surely they talked, the other remaining mortals, of her father.

And yes, all of this seems implausible, yet wait until you hear the tale that this leprous pleb has invented.

Only as a sign of my respect, well, all that it merits without taking into account its insignificance, I was able to attend the funeral parlor to see what remained of the heartless swine and this is how I was able to hear the end of the story.

13

They say that the little girl with the sweet appearance…

…hid within her the unknown capacity, like the circus freaks that can bend spoons with their eyes…

…or move crystal vases from one place to another with a certain gesture.

And with these cunning tricks she could escape the plague that was her father.

And with that which she had obtained, she conjured certain enigmatic powers.

14

 I am going to confess to you that there has been nights of insomnia when I have heard things…

Guttural noises and rhythmic moans which undoubtedly were made by the girl.

15161718

Finally, we hope that with the disappearance of that pariah and the absence of the unfortunate girl…

…this neighborhood has won something akin to peace, to say the least. And now I must leave because, how it is to wait…

… in a ruined old place like this one…

… which has been built with the most rotten and decayed materials and now…

19

I see the denigrating necessity of renovating my elegant bedroom.

It will be better to start work in good time…

Before the darkness…

invades all.

20

Now I must bid you farewell…

I hope to have the pleasure of another talk with you tomorrow.

A special thank you goes to both Axel Flores for entering the Spanish text into the images and to Jack Little for providing the translation. 

Born and raised in Mérida Yucatán, Mexico, Gabriel Canul Olivares is a natural artist. Painter, draftsman, and self-taught writer, his foray into comics was inevitable.

His love of comics began when he was very young.

His desire, was not only to read them, but to create them – which he does with “Comunidad de Dibujantes del Sureste”, a group of independent artists, where he is a drawing instructor, and one of the leaders.

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Poetry

Tynemouth Beach and Remains

by Jack Little

 

Tynemouth Beach

For dad

 

“Do you remember the jumpy beach son?”

My dad pointed to some large rocks, used

for protecting the sand from sea.

“You used to play there…”

And I remember the crab pools and cold

salt sea of my days of being four.

 

Mum would search for sea glass,

while I clambered over castle rocks

and seaweedbed shells

“You don’t see me!” I’d shout

and dad would take my hands and swing

me over continents and back

 

like Indiana Jones carried on a zephyr

and brought back down to earth with

a particularly crunchy, crash of a wave.

 

 

 Remains

 

A rumour swells up like stench,

Blood torn up and gutted

Red and smattered on crumble brick, slick

Bile rising false chords.

 

Invaded. Disfigured idols

A pulsing throng of brokendown flash cars

Scattered by gaping wounds, and maggot

Fed fat yes-men, businessmen with

 

Paralyzed, and eaten eyes

Knotted, buckled and annulled by

The smell of Earth scorched misery.

Abandoned rot. And lost.

 

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Bio: Jack Little (b. 1987) is a British poet living in Mexico City where he runs The Ofi Press, a bilingual online poetry magazine and publishing company which organises regular poetry events. His work has been published in 3:AM Magazine, Warwick Unbound, Calliope Nerve, The Bubble, Eunoia Review and most recently in Blue Pepper Poetry. He also has forthcoming publications with Kerouac’s Dog, Drey, Wasafiri and Bakwa Magazine. In March 2012, Jack read at the Linares International Literary Festival in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. As well as his literary related activities, he also manages the Mexico national cricket team. www.theofipress.webs.com

 

Art by Judith Shaw

 

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Poetry

Olympic Mentality and other poems

by Jack Little

Olympic Mentality

 

The Olympic Football Final – I don’t watch it, preferring

to observe Mexico City life where I pass vital moments,

a semi-welcomed guest among the bars, bordels of insecurity

(mine or someone else’s) and a sense of belonging

gotten lost, unworldly.

 

Auxiliary guards carry guns and watch on nonchalantly,

I catch a glimpse of the score and there’s been an early goal:

It has been a disappointing year. I rob red bricks

painted white from the high walls of surburbia, floating,

wishing for a glimpse of the old world I once knew

 

the dangerous and inviting. My favourite bookshops

are closed on Sundays and the nightclub got shut

down until the fine will be paid to a shadow. Drunken

buses pass, with huge unkempt flags, faster, faster, faster

 

with no where in particular to go, swaying and surfing

on the rotten wooden floor of a packed out combi heading

for war. Mexico won gold today and nothing will

stand in her way for now she has a “winning mentality”

 

quite unseen before. Dancing people at the station, cars honking

loudly and there is no water in the taps tonight and the light shall

most likely falter for these are difficult times, the nights ringing bells

of an uncertainty that befell this city not less than half a millenia ago

 

reassuring yet taxing to the senses, the winners declare

this day to be “a base upon which to build for the future”

 

 

On Finding Myself to be Rather Similar to a Cabbage

 

I read a book on hormones today

and it’s really quite remarkable

just how our bodies work

at attaching new atoms, and breaking them down,

signals passing too -and-fro millions of millimeters

from toe to head and back again.

 

And then, that got me thinking,

(which can be very dangerous)

where do I fit in, in this body of mine?

am I just the sum of this not quite so tall machine

and unfathomable passing of bodily fluids and electricity

between tubes and organs… A silly percentage made of water

and 47% the same DNA as a cabbage.

 

So, dear sir. Please do cut me open and find a Victoria sponge,

Placed meticulously in thin layers of cream, cake and jam.

 

 

Fourth Birthday

 

A photo from my back pocket,

a boy in his best black waist coat

like a 1990s snooker player – Don’t pot

the black too early lad – I whisper,

his forehead hasn’t been grown into yet

 

My best party outfit, my best friends

of turning four fill the foreground

of life passing in cycles, the passing of parcels

the stopping of music. Unpack these moments

and write them down – my teddy bear wears

that waistcoat now

 

 

Late August, 2012

 

the evening denies her promise

of rainfall, a day off

and the excitement of entrapment.

 

a man blames expectation as his cage

and asks for directions to somewhere beautiful.

 

the citizen smiles politely in silence,

the ripples of a thousand “I”, ‘I”, “I”s merge into one,

another year now over halfway done.

 

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Jack Little (b. 1987) is a British poet living in Mexico City where he runs The Ofi Press, a bilingual online poetry magazine and publishing company which organises regular poetry events. His work has been published in 3:AM Magazine, Warwick Unbound, Calliope Nerve, The Bubble, Eunoia Review, Blue Pepper Poetry, Kerouac’s Dog,  and mostly recently in Bakwa Magazine (Cameroon). Forthcoming publications will appear soon in Drey, Wasafiri and Ink, Sweat and Tears. In March 2012, Jack read at the Linares International Literary Festival in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. As well as his literary related activities, he also manages the Mexico national cricket team.www.theofipress.webs.com

 

Photo by Eleanor Bennett

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Interview, Poetry

An Englishman in Mexico City: an interview with Jack Little

By Julia Stewart

 

Jack Little has worn more hats in the first two decades of his life than most do in ten. He is an intriguing mix of sportsman and poet, social activist and school teacher.

Jack came to the attention of the editor of In Other Words: Merida, Cher Bibler, because he is likewise editor of an online literary magazine functioning out of Mexico City called The Ofi Press.

Jack’s poetry has been published in 3:AM Magazine (UK), In Other Words: Merida (Mexico), Scissors and Spackle (USA), Bakwa Magazine (Cameroon), Ink, Sweat and Tears (UK) The Barehands Anthology (Ireland) and Wasafiri (UK), among others. His poems have featured on the Young Poets Network website and he writes a regular column for The Bubble online magazine.

Here we take a look inside the life of a young man rising.

 interview with jack little

 

Q: Let’s start with what drew you from your home in England to Mexico at such an early age?

A: I graduated from university in 2009 with a Political Science degree and I was looking for work and a new adventure. I always wanted to live abroad, and on a trip to Cuba in 2009 for the 50th anniversary of the revolution, I met several new friends from Latin America. One was Mexican and he invited me to visit, which prompted me to quit my teaching job in the north east of England and a few months later I arrived in Mexico with only £300 and a bag of clothes. I haven’t looked back since! I’ve worked as a textbook proof reader, as a translator, and now I am a primary school teacher. I’ve learnt Spanish and had many wonderful opportunities…I’ve worked hard, but no doubt I’ve been lucky too.

 

Q: You manage the Mexican cricket team. Tell us more about the team and how you landed this job.

A: It’s all about timing. I had never even played cricket in the UK, but when I arrived in Mexico, I befriended a young British cricketer and teacher called Yasir Patel who, at the time, was the captain of the Mexico team. I was also friends with Jon Bonfiglio, a poet, dramatist and explorer with the Clipperton Project who also happened to be the national cricket association’s chairman at the time. When the then manager resigned, Yasir asked me to step in as manager for Mexico at the ICC Division 4 Tournament in San José, Costa Rica where Mexico played against Belize, the Falkland Islands, Chile, and Peru, as well as the host country. Despite Mexico being a strong team, we finished fourth in the tournament.

We at the Mexican Cricket Association are pushing to get more Mexicans interested in the sport. I conduct cricket training sessions twice a week at the school where I work. In May I’ll host a cricket camp for kids in Mexico City and from Queretaro State and I’m really excited about that. In August, I’ll step down as secretary at the Mexican Cricket Association, but will continue in my role as a club captain of the Mexico City Cricket Club 2nd team and also as a youth coach.

 

Q: In Mexican cricket, do they maintain the traditional tea-breaks, and how do they differ from in England?

A: Here in Mexico, the focus is less on tea drinking and more on beer. There is a bar close to the pitch, so many players enjoy a beer or two before the game starts. I guess that has something to do with the blazing heat! Each team has a real mix of nationalities – British, Australians, South Africans, Argentinians, Mexicans, Indians and others. Each brings their own little bit of culture with them to the cricket ground.

 

Q: Cricket is said to have inspired much poetry: i.e. Francis Thompson’s ‘At Lord’s’ (“the field is full of shades”). Does cricket make an appearance in your poetry?

A: Cricket hasn’t been a theme in my poetry yet, but why not in the future! I am very interested in how we as people use our space around us, in the British colonial past, and the use of dialects and accents.

 

Q: Are cricket-playing poets very common where you come from, or are you a rare bird?

A: There is one excellent poet called S.J. Litherland who comes from the north east of England and she wrote an excellent collection of poetry as an homage to the ex-captain of the English team, Nasser Hussain. She travels all over the world to see England play!

 

Q: Are there other sports you are involved in?

A: I am developing the Mexico Darts Association – of which I’m one of the founders – and am organising a Mexico team for the 2014 Darts World Cup, as well as formal leagues here in Mexico City.

 

Q: Mexico City, with 20 million people in the metropolitan area, is one of the world’s largest cities. Does this have any effect on your creativity, your poetry and your state of mind?

A: I love Mexico City; the chaos, the bustle, the beauty of the place and it impacts heavily on my work. The sounds, smells and sites are very different indeed to the north of England and I often compare and contrast these two markers of my own identity. I think that for any poet or writer, the area they occupy in place and time will always have a vital impact upon one’s work.

 

Q: What is your role in the 2013 collaborative poetry project Enemigos and why is it titled so?

A: The Enemigos project reflects the possibilities of poetry in collaboration. Enemigos is a special link between London-based and Mexico City-based poets, all of which are of an extremely high caliber. I had collaborated with organsiers Rocío Cerón and SJ Fowler in the past through The Ofi Press. My role, as a London-born poet now living in Mexico City, was initially to place the poets together by reading their work and looking for signs that they would be able to work together. Collaborative writing can be quite a conflictive process at times!

Once the book is ready, I shall write a short foreword for the book which will be published in May of this year by EBL Cielo Abierto.

 

Q: Your regular columns in Bubble magazine offer up slices of Mexican culture. What type of feedback have you received on these stories?

A:  To be quite honest, I’m not really quite sure if anyone at all reads my column! It does provide me with a good excuse to research my new home country though and I have written several pieces on the Day of the Dead, environmental degradation, narco corridos, Mexican food, pulque and many other topics. I love to write and discover new things so I find the process to be really quite rewarding, even if not many people read the articles.

 

Q: In one of your bios, you mention that you enjoy “sleeping on park benches”; does that mean you hit the bars too hard or that you can’t pay rent at times?

A: Haha! Not quite. I rarely drink to be honest and I have never had too much trouble with paying the rent. My nickname is “The Granddad” because of my old soul.

Having said that, when I first arrived in Mexico, I used to enjoy finding new parks in the city, watching people pass by, doing some writing and then falling asleep for an hour or so in the sun. Now with a full time job as a primary school teacher as well as my other projects, I find that I have a lot less time to indulge my hobby of park bench sleeping. The Easter holidays are coming up though, so I’ll probably take an afternoon off for this.

 

Q: Are you by any chance related to the famous British-born American composer and singer “Little” Jack Little?

A: No, but my mum is an established poet in the UK and my father has just finished his fourth in a series of detective novels based in the north east of England. Before you know it, the Littles might just have made a reputation for themselves!

 

Q: If a poet or writer had 24 hours in Mexico City and wanted to be inspired, where would you send them?

A: I would send them for a long walk in order to get lost in the city. You only really get to know a place by getting lost there. You also find out a lot about yourself too! On my first morning in Mexico, I woke up at 6 am and walked through the small villages on the outskirts of DF where I was staying. I passed pig skins hanging in shop windows, loud music playing, brightly coloured market stalls and exotic fruits…I have to say, I was hooked.

 

Q: You originally came to Mexico for a finite period of time (six months), but have stayed well beyond that. Do you see your future here? Are there other countries in the world that you would like live in as well, and why?

A: I’ve been lucky to have visited many countries so far in my life, like Tanzania, China, Cuba, Thailand and many European countries. I have never felt quite so at home in any of those places as I have done here. I will be getting married in July to a lovely lady whom I met here three years ago and I plan to take dual Mexican-UK nationality. Mexico is home for me now but I would never say never to leaving for another country. The world is a very big place with much to offer.

 

For more information:

 

www.theofipress.webs.com

www.mexicocricketassociation.com

www.mexicodartsassociation.webs.com

www.thebubble.org.uk/authors/jack-little

 

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