Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Wed Joke

Sorry, I didn't post any joke last Sun. So here it is:

Cows & Politics Explained

A CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

A SOCIALIST: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

AN AMERICAN REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?

AN AMERICAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.

A COMMUNIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk.

A FASCIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, then pours the milk down the drain.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

A FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

A BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. They are mad. They die. Pass the shepherd's pie, please.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.

A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You enter into a partnership with an American corporation. Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship both of them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported on them.

AN ISRAELI CORPORATION: There are these two Jewish cows, right? They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, who needs people?

AN ARKANSAS CORPORATION: You have two cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Sat Poem


Sand the most anonymous of soils,
of sand the pillars of un-paradise are made.
And the air of planet Earth
is made of sand,
of sand the satellites;
and Venus too
all sand.
Hearts expel sand
and draw it in. Sand.
But not only sand.
Along with the sand, the essential tear
and a glass full of blood.And there, too, amongst the blood,
yellowing letters,
broken clocks,
a Lilliputian dictionary,
a rusty shield of Sparta
-they all come too.
But in the evening, everything fades away,
as do you and the light.
Each night all that remains is sand
beneath the cruel moonlight. Sand.
Sand the most anonymous of soils,
Of sand the pillars of un-paradise are made.

by Bernardo Atxaga

Poemas & Híbridos (Visor, 1993). Translated by Margaret Jull Costa.

Closing the Cybergap

Blueprints for a $100 laptop aimed at children in poor countries have been unveiled by scientists. The machines would have a hand crank to power them when there is no electricity and their power adapters would double as carrying straps. They would be carried like slim lunchboxes and, for outdoor reading, their display would be able to shift from full colour to glare-resistant black and white. The wireless laptops would also have a rubber casing as "they have to be indestructible", said Nicholas Negroponte, of the MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He hatched the idea after seeing children in a Cambodian village benefit from having a notebook PC donated by a charity. He hopes to get up to 15 million machines in production within a year.

Countries like Brazil, China and Thailand are already interested in the project.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Did you know that...? (II)

11. More than 12,000 women are killed each year in Russia as a result of domestic violence.
12. The world's trade in illegal drugs is estimated to be worth around $400 billion - about the same as the world's legal pharmaceutical industry.
13. Landsmines kill or maim at least one person every hour.
14. There are 44 million child labourers in India.
15. People in industrialised countries eat between six and seven kilograms of food additives every year.
16. The golfer Tiger Woods is the world's highest-paid sprtsman. He earns $78 million a year - or $148 every second.
17. There are 67,000 people employed in the lobbying industry in Washington DC - 125 for each elected member of Congress.
18. Cars kill two people every minute.
19. More people can identify the golden arches of McDonald's than the Christian cross.
20. In Kenya, bribery payments make up a third of the average household budget.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

24 Oct 1975

Was a Friday and 90% of Iceland's women went on strike that day.
They were fed up of earning less than the average men and they organized a strike that, later, officially, was called a "day off".
Women left home early in the morning and went back late in the evening. They spent that day gathering, smoking more than in a normal day, drinking coffee and going down to the capital city Reykjavik for the bigest demo the country has ever seen: 25,000 marchers out of a population of 220,000.
It was a spur to action and many feel that the solidarity women showed that day paved the way for the election five years later of Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the world's first democratically elected female president.
But 30 years later there is also a feeling of disillusionment.
A statistic shows that Icelandic women earn on average only 64.15% of men's wages.
So next Monday, on the rally's 30th anniversary, women are being encouraged to leave work at 2.08pm, the time by which they would have earned their pay if they were earning the same as men.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Noam Chomsky, the linguistic professor who has become one of the most outspoken critics of US foreign policy, has won a poll that names him as the world's top public intellectual.

Here is the top five from the poll:

1. Noam Chomsky
Linguistics expert and critic of US foreign policy.

2. Umberto Eco
Italian writer and academic.

3. Richard Dawkins
Oxford professor of public understanding of science.

4. Vaclav Havel
Playwright and leader of Czech velvet revolution.

5. Christopher Hitchens
Journalist, author, pro-Iraq war polemicist.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Transcript is a bi-monthly review of books and writing from around Europe. Its aim is to promote quality literature written in the smaller languages and to give wider circulation to material from small-language literary publications through the medium of English, French and German.

Visit it, is a cool web:

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Sunday Joke

An American, a Russian, a Chinese man and an Israeli are at a street corner when a pollster comes up. He says, "Excuse me, what is your opinion of the meat shortage?"

The American says "What's a shortage?"
The Russian says, "What's meat?"
The Chinese chap says, "What is an opinion?"
and the Israeli asks: "What is 'excuse me'?"

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Saturday Poem


The old land swinging in her stomach
she must get to know this language
better - key words, sound patterns
wordgroups of fire and blood.

Try your classmates with
the English version of your name.
Maria. Try it.
Good afternoon. How are you?

I am fine. Your country -
you see it in a drop of water.
The last lesson they taught you there
was how to use a gun.

And now in stops and starts
you grow a second city in your head.
It is Christmas in this school.
Sarajevo is falling through

a forest of lit-up trees,
cards and decorations.
Mountains split with gunfire
swallow clouds, birds, sky.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Fab Four

The Beatles? Nope. ABBA? Neither. The Three Mosqueteers and D’Artagnan? Er… no. The four British “serious” newspapers: Guardian, Times, Independent and Telegraph.

I love British newspapers. I really do. You see in them a rare effort of independence towards institutions and political parties that is unthinkable in, say, South Europe. The press in the UK is vibrant and is a genuine democratic counter-balance in the face of the State apparatus, Government, the rich and the influential.

The current tendency in the eyebrow paper field is downsizing. The alleged reasons are practical ones (difficult to use for commuters) and symbolic (linked to an old-fashioned past).

First was the Independent who, with a big fanfare, changed to tabloid size. Then, more quietly, the Times followed. Both stopped the freefall in circulation and also made a bit of profit. The last move was made by the Guardian choosing a halfway size between the broadsheet and the tabloid: the so-called Berliner format. The Berliner is a quite “continental” shape, similar to those papers in France and Germany. The fourth broadsheet, the Telegraph, is going to launch a shake-up next week: they are going to keep the current size but will change the sections distribution, focusing in news, sports – in a tabloid supplement, curiously – and finances “told in a sporty way” according to editor Martin Newland.

So what’s the future for those serious papers market? It seems that the size changing was necessary in order to stop the bleeding and to attract few new readers but ultimately is the Internet, with its free electronic version papers, which is shaping the market.

Will the Internet make disappear the papers as the apocalyptic version says? I doubt it very much. Remember that the creation of the photo camera wasn’t the end of painting as many thought. On the contrary, it pushed for the genesis of abstract painting, a key artistic movement to understand the 20th century.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Dubya The Ape

"The problem with French is that they don't have even a word for entrepreneur".
George W. Bush

He is in the Oval Office getting the daily sit-rep on Iraq.
Rumsfeld says: "I have to tell you, Mr President, that yesterday three Brazilian soldiers were killed".
To his surprise Bush groans and buries his head in his hands, saying over and over, "That is just terrible, terrible news.
"Remind me again, just how many is a brazillion?"

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Spectacles and Sideburns

Atxaga on Ordorika

Towards 1970 there began to materialise the Basque City. Never before had the noun and the adjective joined together. One spoke of the Mountain, the Earth, the Nation, all of them Basque; but the privileged space where the world became truly wide seemed forbidden to those who whished to express themselves in the language that sustains the adjective, the Basque tongue. It was as if someone, the Spirit of the Time, for example, might have hurled out an order: "Either change your language, or change your place". Which in the case of Ruper Ordorika, meant: "Dear friend, either devote yourself to romantic music or to patriotic music. And if not, give it up". The message was clear. It meant solitude. And it was a curse. A snare.

Ruper Ordorika put up with the solitude, and against the long road he opposed his will and his intelligence. Ruper Ordorika forgot the curse: from his first records, his materials was diverse, general, non-religious: he could do with the laundry, a van, or a visit from a woman. Ruper Ordorika eluded the snare: instead of crossing to the other side of the border, he remained close to it and took on its history. He didn't become the chamaleon of the storybook tale, neither in a branch of the General Bank of Music, nor in the international Basque Singer for Tourists. He remained a personal creator, with committed lyrics and music towards his loved, hated, distant, close Basque City.

Bernardo Atxaga

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Too Old, Too Small, Maybe


This project was born as the result of a journey: a trip to New York, in March of 2003, that began a few days before the war in Iraq. We were to do some reading performances there, at the request of Elizabeth Macklin. We had instantly begun wondering what we, who work in a language of 600,000 speakers, would have to offer in a city that has neighborhoods of that size.
WH Auden once wrote that travel writing owes very little to its authors, and everything to the people they meet up with on the journey. That's exactly it. It's impossible for me to mention now all the people we met up with there. We'll save them up for ourselves. But I would like to mention two people, in hopes it will help you unedrsatnd the project.
I met the first of them after the performance at the Cornelia Street Cafe. I didn't learn her name. In the audience was an older couple, still carrying their antiwar placards, who had gone straight to the reading from the demostration. It was the woman who came up to us when the reading was over. She said she was a psychiatrist. She had worked her whole life with people suffering from schizophrenia. She told us how with some patients there's no understanding anything they say when they're speaking. They're ceaselessly speaking gibberish. But that this didn't matter. The speaking was the thing, putting problems into words. Because the worry we brood over inwardly is lightened when we speak it in words, when we've got someone in front of us to listen. And thought she didn't understand the patients' words, she said, she did in fact know what they meant to say. She hadn't understood a word of the Euskara, either, she went on then. But what we'd been meaning to say she had heard, clear as day, just as she did in the hospital with the patients. You have to know how to listen.
Then there was the remark made by a woman, a poet named Phillis Levin. She said that she'd heard of Euskara before as well, she'd seen things written in Basque. She'd looked them over and more than once had tried to read them, just to see if she could. She was wonderstruck at all the x's that turned up on the page. The language looks like a treasure map, she said to me. If you just forget all the rest of the letters and focus in on the x, it looks as if you could find out where the treasure is. I thought it was the most beautiful thing one could say about a language one didn't know, that it's the map to the treasure.
I'm certain you too will know how to read the treasure map, and at last find the treasure. Don't look too far afield, it's in your own self.
Kirmen Uribe
(To Aitzol)
He heard the first cukoo at the beginning of April.
Because he'd been feeling on edge, maybe,
from his inclination to order the chaos, maybe,
he wanted to know which notes the cukoo sang.
He sat waiting with his pitch pipe
next afternoon: when
would the cukoo sing?
He finally achieved it;
The pitch pipe told no lies.
Si-sol were the cukoo's notes.
The discovery shook the countryside.
Everyone wanted to prove whether truly those
were the notes that the cukoo sang.
The measurements were not in harmony.
Each had his or her own truth.
One said it was fa-re, another mi-do.
No one managed to agree.
Meanwhile the cukoo went on singing in the forest,
not mi-do, not fa-re, not si-sol, either.
As it had a thousand years before,
the cukoo sang cuccu, cuccu.
Lyrics by: Kirmen Uribe
Music by: Rafa Rueda.

The Saturday Poem


It began to snow at midnight. And certainly
the kitchen is the best place to sit,
even the kitchen of the slepless.
It's warm there, you cook yourself something, drink wine
and look out of the window at your friend eternity.
Why care wether birth and death are merely points
when life is not a straight line.
Why torment yourself eyeing the calendar
and wondering what is at stake.
Why confess you don't have the money
to buy Saskia shoes?
And why brag
that you suffer more than others.
If there were no silence here
the snow would have dreamed it up.
You are alone.
Spare the gestures. Nothing for show.

by Vladimir Holan

Friday, October 07, 2005

Golden Pages

"Don Quixote is the book you must read before you die"
Ben Okri

Don Quixote
by Miguel de Cervantes
Concerning the famous hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha's position, character and way of life
In a village in La Mancha, the name of which I cannot quire recall, there lived not long ago one of those country gentlemen or hidalgos who keep a lance in a rack, an ancient leather shield, a scrawny hack and a greyhound for coursing. A midday stew with rather more shin of beef than leg of lamb, the leftovers for supper most nights, lardy eggs on Saturdays, lentil broth on Fridays and an occasional pigeon as a Sunday treat ate up three-quarters of his income. The rest went on a cape of black broadcloth, with breeches of velvet and slippers to match for holy days, and on weekdays he walked proudly in the finest homespun. He maintained a housekeeper the wrong side of forty, a niece the right side of twenty and a jack of all traders who was a good at saddling the nag as at plying the pruning shears. Our hidalgo himself was nearly fifty; he had a robust constitution, dried-up flesh and whitered face, and he was an early riser and a keen huntsman. His surname's said to have been Quixada or Quesada (as if he were a jawbone, or a cheesecake): concerning this detail there's some discrepancy among the authors who have written on the subject, although a credible conjecture does suggest he might have been a plaintive Quexana. But this doesn't matter much, as far as our little tale's concerned, provided that the narrator doesn't stray one inch from the truth. (...)
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the son of a poor Spanish surgeon, was almost certainly born in 1547. He served in Italy in 1570, and as a regular soldier he fought in the naval battle of Lepanto and other engagements, until he was captured by pirates while returning to Spain in 1575 and taken to be slave of a renegade Greek in Algiers; he attempted unsuccessfully to escape several times, and was finally ransomed in 1580. For the rest of his life he was preoccupied with the difficulties of making a living, and spent two periods in prison. He had already written some plays and a pastoral novel, La Galatea, when in 1592 he offered to write six plays at fifty ducats apiece. He had no success until 1605, when the publication of the first part of Don Quixote brought him immediate popularity. The Exemplary Stories were published as a collection in 1613, and in 1615 appeared the promised continuation of Don Quixote. Cervantes died, as Shakespeare, in 1616.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Ten Languages Die Out Every Year

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are the last native speaker of English. No one else you know speaks your language. You don’t see any point in teaching it to your kids, because no one will ever speak it to them, either. Imagine the loss you would feel. All those un-translatable English-language ideas – a stiff upper lip, a stitch in time, a New York minute – would disappear. No one would ever sing “baa baa black sheep” or “ring-a-ring o’roses” again. All those minute clues about history, culture, collective memory – all gone.

There are around 6,000 living languages in the world – and at least half of those are under serious threat. In every part of the world, languages are disappearing. In fact, one scientist has said that languages are facing a bigger risk of extinction than birds and mammals. Professor Steve Sutherland of the University of East Anglia calculated that the past 500 years have seen 4.5 per cent of languages die out – compared with 1.3 per cent of birds, and 1.9 per cent of mammals.

Some 300 languages have more than a million speakers. They’re the healthy ones – Mandarin Chinese, English and Spanish are the most widely spoken. Ten major languages are the mother tongues of almost half the world’s population. But the median size for languages in the world is just 6,000 – so half the languages in the world are spoken by that number or fewer.

Languages, like so many other forms of human expression, come and go, and thousands have done exactly that without leaving any trace of ever having existed. Only a very few – Basque, Greek, Hebrew, Latin among them – have lasted more than 2,000 years. But it seems that the pace of their disappearance is becoming ever quicker. UNESCO claims that the rate of language extinction has now reached ten every year.

The Ethnologue, a database of all the languages spoken in the world, claims that 417 languages are spoken by so few people that they are in the final stages of becoming extinct. Spare a thought for the one living speaker of Luo in Cameroon, the single remaining exponent of Klamath in Oregon, the handful of people that speak the Saami Pite language in Sweden and Norway.

Where once languages flourished in small isolated areas, there are now very few that are not in regular contact with the rest of the world. Speaking an internationally recognised language is a clear advantage for people who want to make the most of the opportunities contact brings. Eventually, people may not realise their children are not learning their native tongue.

Languages may also be lost through migration, as people move from small rural communities to urban centres, or when environments are destroyed by the search for oil or timber. Natural disasters can also devastate populations, and along with them, their language – like the speakers of the Paulohi language in Makulu, Indonesia, of whom all but 50 were killed by an earthquake and tidal wave.

Governments also have a case to answer in the extinction of languages. The perceived need to establish “official languages”, in which a country would educate its children, conducts its political affairs and carry out its business, had a disastrous effect on many small languages. Up until the 1970s, Aborigines in Australia were forbidden to speak in their own tongues – which once numbered more than 400. Now, according to the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing, only about 25 Aboriginal languages are still commonly spoken.

What is lost if a language is lost?

There are some who argue that the extinction of languages is merely a symptom of the gradual evolution of our species, where universal communication is prized, and increasing homogeneity is just an evolutionary side-effect. Obviously there could be great benefits if everyone in the world spoke the same language – some industries already reflect this, with English a must for pilots and air traffic controllers. But it’s clear that there is far more at stake than mere convenience. As languages are lost, whole ways of life and sets of knowledge may be lost along with them. Complex religious and social rituals disappear, oral histories die through lack of telling. Information about plants, animals and environments gathered through generations may never be passed on. And the richness of human invention, our unique gift of talking about what we see around us, would be much the poorer.

Put simply, language expresses something about identity, about our place in the world. Ani Rauhihi, a Maori teacher in New Zealand’s North island, sums it up: “If you grow up not speaking your language, you won’t know who you are”.

The need for a feeling of identity and connection to one’s past is a big factor in the resurgence of the Maori language. Maori is the language of New Zealand’s native population and was the predominant language spoken there before the arrival of the European settlers. But by the early 20th century children were punished for speaking Maori at school and very few schools taught the language. By the 1980s less than 20 per cent of Maori knew enough of the language to be regarded as native speakers, and many urbanised Maori people had no contact at all with their language and culture. Now one in four Maori people in New Zealand speaks the Maori language and around 40% of Maori pre-schoolers are enrolled in total-immersion schools. Maori is also an official language.

It is even possible for a language considered dead to be revived into a flourishing and dynamic tongue. Hebrew ceased to be used as spoken language in about AD 200, but continued to be used by Jews as a “sacred tongue”. In the late 19th century, a revival movement headed by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda aimed t re-establish Hebrew as a spoken language to provide a common tongue for Jews. The new language came to be a key factor in the Zionist movement, so that when Jews moved back to their homeland they would have a common language. Ben-Yehuda coined thousands of new words and pioneered Hebrew usage in home and school. Now Hebrew is spoken by more than 5 million people, 81 per cent of Israel’s population.

It seems the world may be starting to realise what is about to lose. UNESCO is actively promoting multilingualism and the need to preserve intangible aspects of culture as well as the more traditional monuments and national parks. Joseph Poth, head of its languages division, has spoken of the need for “trilingualism” – we should all speak our mother tongue, a “neighbour” language and an international language. Even teaching an endangered language in schools creates a rescue system, he says.

It may be too late for the languages where only a few speakers remain. Chances are they’re elderly, they speak their mother tongue very little and have forgotten many of the words they once knew. But it seems that at last the value of these languages is being recognised, and that is the first step to stemming the tide of loss.

From "50 Facts That Should Change The World"

by Jessica Williams. Icon Books.

Pages 171-174.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


by Bernardo Atxaga (right)

This novel is a unique literary event: a fresh and original voice from the Basque nation, one of the world's most isolated cultures. Already published in all of Europe's main languages, English readers will now see why Obabakoak was a literary sensation throughout Europe.

The title of the book means "events that happenned in Obaba", and Obaba is the village at the centre of this novel composed of linked tales and parodies written with a delicate sense of childlike innocence - as though Borges were writing about ordinary people.

A man relates in his diary the beautiful deception practised on him by his father many years before. A young woman teacher, friendless and lonely, makes a passionate mistake. A boy is transformed into a wild boar. Two friends tell each other stories while trying to solve the mistery of a chilhood photograph: can a lizard slip into your ear and eat your brain, so that memory and creativity are destroyed?

Gradually, we realize that there is a darker theme beneath these jokey and sad stories of loss, of events in a small mysterious land. All the good stories seem already to have been written, and the narrator of the book becomes a victim of his own tales and his "search for the lost word" that will give meaning to them.


(The author speaks of his language, euskera)

I write in a strange language. Its verbs,
the structure of its relative clauses,
the words it uses to designate ancient things
- rivers, plants, birds -
have no sisters anywhere on Earth.
A house is etxe, a bee erle, death heriotz.
The sun of the long winters we call eguzki or eki;
the sun of the sweet, rainy springs is also
- as you'd expect - called eguzki or eki
(it's a strange language but not that strange).

Born, they say, in the megalithic age,
it survived, this stubborn language, by withdrawing,
by hiding away like a hedgehog in a place,
which, thanks to the traces it left behind there,
the world named the Basque Country or Euskal Herria.
Yet its isolation could never have been absolute
- cat is katu, pipe is pipa, logic is lojika -
rather, as the prince of detectives would have said,
the hedgehog, my dear Watson, crept out its hiding place
(to visit, above all, Rome and all its progeny).

The language of a tiny nation, so small
you cannot even find it on the map,
it never strolled in the gardens of the Court
or past the marble statues of government buildings;
in four centuries it produced only a hundred books...
the first in 1545; the most important in 1643;
the Calvinist New Testament in 1571;
the complete Catholic Bible around 1860.
Its sleep was long, its bibliography brief
but in the twentieth century the hedgehog awoke.

Obabakoak, this book published now in this city,
the city of Dickens, of Wilkie Collins and of so many others,
is one of the latest books to join the Basque bibliography.
It was written in several houses and in several countries,
and its subject is simply life in general.
And Obaba is just Obaba: a place, a setting;
ko means "of"; a is a determiner; k the plural.
The literal translation: The People or Things of Obaba;
a less literal translation: Stories from Obaba
(and with that I conclude this prologue).


Bernardo Atxaga (real name Jose Irazu) was born in Asteasu, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, in 1951. Studied economics in Bilbao and Barcelona and since the early 70s is a full time writer. Obabakoak won the Spanish national literary award in 1989 and sice then has been translated into 20 languages. Atxaga has been member of literary groups like Pott and publisher of literary magazines like Gartziarena.

Obabakoak (a novel)
by Bernardo Atxaga.
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Published by Hutchinson, London.
326 pages

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Katrina & Rita

Dedicated to the black and poor of New Orleans.

I, Too

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed -

I, too, am America.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Saturday Poem


So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

by Raymond Carver