Sometimes inspiration is contagious. Which may explain why in one day we came across two poems moved by music. The poem below was recently emailed by board member Elaine Elinson to the YBG Festival office. It was written by her friend Leticia Pavon, who had attended last week’s son jarocho concert here at YBG Festival. A couple hours later, poet Oscar Bermeo (in the video) was here at the YBG Festival Poetry Tuesday speaking of the influence of and references to hip-hop in his writing.
Before we get carried away with sharing tangents, experience the poetry for yourself, beginning with these words from Leticia…
Here’s a decima (10 lines, should be 8 syllables each) based on my impression of the event. Mainly, how hurried we are, how music slows us down in the middle of crazy downtown, listing what delighted me visually (participant Cassandra who danced with Dr. Loco, organizer Maria de la Rosa, Antu is a young Chilean guy who got on stage and did “La Iguana” (surprised me – he’s very quiet). Tocotin is an old musical verse form from Sor Juana’s time (and it sounds nicely like clocks), and Huitzilin is the hummingbird, Aztec sun symbol. Antu’s name is also a sun god in Chilean Mapuche. Putting SF gives it local flavor, as well as colonial religious fiesta feeling. Poetic translation…Jarana, pandero, y violin,
Sol, prado, viento – a danzar!
Relojes – dejen de avanzar,
En San Francisco – un Tocotin!
Mediodia – zumba el Huitzilin,
Al Antu le sale un reptil,
Maria Rosa luce huipil,
Cassandra estrena vestido.
El tiempo ya suspendido,
Mi alma se vuelve ductil…Lute, tambourine, violin,
Sun, grass, wind – to the dance!
Clocks – stop marching forward,
San Francisco celebrates a Tocotin!
At midday, the hummingbirds buzz
Antu transforms into lizard,
Maria Rosa in Oaxacan huipil,
Cassandra in a sundress
Time detains it’s steady advance
My spirit softens…
~ Leticia Pavon
Now that you’ve experienced these radically different poems, here is a cool fact that will boggle your brain: the really good decima poets would occasionally battle each other, rap battle style! Really! We have it on authority from music historian John Santos.
An example of a decima battle that John Santos shared at last night’s My Music is Who I Am lecture: