Enough! Things pile up – the center doesn’t hold! If all this new visual and written work doesn’t get put out soon, the festering patina of time will seal, will bury everything.
The last post was, remarkably, in late July. How much has happened since then, seemingly with break-neck speed. Even as I write, things move faster and faster. I can’t possibly keep up. Paradoxically my own life seems to crawl at a snail’s pace, or stand suspended out of time entirely.
In the midst of everything going on in the world, I work. A new ongoing series, Spheres of Destiny & Variants and the related Scrolling Spots follow along the same parameters as the other recent double-sided assemblages; the Swingeing Spots, Big Looming Assemblages, Spots of Retribution and Dark Spots & Black Holes. Why this particular focus and process persists I am not sure. It offers itself, it suggests, or with stronger imperative, demands. I oblige. The Scrolling Spots can be seen here, and the Spheres of Destiny & Variants, here.
At any rate, one round diptych of the Spheres of Destiny series has already made its way to Budapest in my stead, currently exhibited in the HORIZON / HORIZONT group exhibition of the Society of Hungarian Painters (Magyar Festők Társasága).
Aside from regular submersion in escalating horrific news reports (can it get any worse? – yes it does, yes it will!) I have been reading poems – more Bertolt Brecht, now Octavio Paz, returning to József Attila to find poems somehow overlooked, revisiting W.B. Yeats. Passing as needed through the tortuous, exquisite route of translation by brilliant poets and writers, these words offer courage and co-conspiracy. Bridging decades, generations, centuries, they are antidotes to isolation and despair. Locked in solitary conversation with these great voices from the past, I continue to put down my own words, which can be seen here.
Ending now with Octavio Paz and József Attila . Very different, yet both speaking of what needs to be said. Next time, Brecht’s What use is goodness?, Paz, J.A. and some Yeats.
– Diane Sophrin
On the Pavement
On the pavement a small puddle was blinking
as shadows began to occupy the streets.
In their restless dreams sparrows were chirping
but then silently hung on to their twigs.
The sleeping ones will always cling
harder than the awake, ready to take flight.
People, streetcars, taxis were bustling
just like the instincts and the mind.
I kissed a girl on her mouth in a doorway,
then I mixed in among the crowd again,
Only to separate from it once more, so that
this poem could crystalize from life’s pain.
At last I see, after long meditation,
my animal sorrow is understandable
human grief that finds its scintillation
even in advertising displays.
Winter Night. Selected Poems by Attila József
translated from the Hungarian by John Bátki
Oberlin College Press. 1997