Storytellers Of Color: Gustavo Melara, Poet By Necessity and Professor By Choice

Our guest this morning is José Gustavo Melara, local poet and Spanish language professor at Front Range Community College. Melara is originally from El Salvador and his poems have been published in several literary magazines in Mexico and other countries.  He has participated in poetry conferences throughout the United States. Recently, he was asked to read his poems at the University of Cincinnati, from the collection of poems in his book called “En sus Pupilas una Luna a Punto de Madurar,” translated as “In Her Pupils a Moon about to Mature,” for which he won the Distinguished Book of Poetry award in the Dominican Republic in 2015.

Melara has lived in the United States since 1983. He completed his secondary and post-secondary studies in New York, Colorado and Ohio. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado, where, since 1995, he has been a professor of Spanish language and philosophy and letters at Front Range Community College.  He has also led translation workshops and his translated poets, such as Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens. He has presented works on baroque architecture and music. During the interview, Melara recites his longest poem, “Five seconds of the 20th century,” inspired by his personal experience of war in his county of origin, El Salvador.

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    Storytellers Of Color: Gustavo Melara, Poet By Necessity and Professor By Choice Rossana Longo-Better

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Our new monthly show, Storytellers of Color, airs on the second Monday of each month as part of A Public Affair on KGNU. The major goal of the show is to provide a safe space for communicators of color, through a series of conversations, to elevate their voices and discuss issues of equality in the media. The show is inspired by recent gatherings of various working groups, including Latinx Voices, organized by Diamond Hardiman from Free Press’ News Voices Colorado Project, and Journos of Color Network led by Tina Griego, reporter, editor, and coach from Colorado News Collaborative.

The Storytellers of Color series is a collaborative effort, with an open invitation to other storytellers to come into our airwaves, to tell their stories, and to occupy the safe space we are providing every second Monday of the month.

 

 FIVE SECONDS IN THE 20th CENTURY

You may smell a withered lily, broken and under the shade

of a typewriter, searching

for Roque Dalton’s right hand.  Hidden.

He comes (they) stepping on rhizomes and liquid interstices; geranium-blades grow in the rumor

of a verb that pretends to hide slight ruptures,

variations on a (gray) theme

which these days arrive while we dive into the fate of knives, 

or grab tight ropes made of salt and shrouds,

or dive into the solitudes of pens,

or into some harmonies which come across a rigid body,

dispersed among the implosions of a blueberry:

yeah, and I am (are) hungry (then and later);

and the pages of several newspapers go round and round, alerting on

the concupiscence that hasn’t been realized, leaving (hardly) the events for later;

alas, how we used to enjoy ourselves after having dug a fallow,

full of yellow hopes, losing itself, solitary if it rained,

seeing its image grow in the sand:

Because it happens that the dust was shattered into a thousand pieces and now it lies in wait,

and the night remained wounded in the middle of a road,

and the book I was reading drowned in its own words,

and the rose is no longer infinite,

and the sky shaved its beard,

and the quill has not flown since it began writing on worn papyruses,

and the wind went away to die around stalactites that subjugated it as they pleased,

and the lamp has helped us discover north winds with a Friday face,

and this morning’s dim and immense light –blue chest- has begun to illuminate itself,

and the blankets, which had many doubts left under them, started to swell up with solitary bodies,

and some hands, yours and mine, feel cold and have become messengers of oblivion,

and our oblivion has been disfigured and we don’t remember it any longer,

and the book which I hold in my hands has no memory,

and the cup of coffee which gave us extra hours became a turtle with no legs,

and the dough going in the oven was transformed into a child, child, child,

and it came out as an ash-child, shrunk, unforgettable, yours and mine, neither a king nor infinite,

crumpling the heart,

and our children cry, cry, cry with needles in their throats,

and they writhe in pain and remain low like shadows of an ant,

and they wound our sleep and our loneliness and our eyes

even if there are very few eyes that see beyond their own light;

and a mother places a shawl over her shoulders and ears,

and butterflies still drown in a land voluptuous in omissions,

and the last names Markowitz or Jara or Trejo or Kirezi  hardly mean anything,

and that woman decided to rent her scruples for the good of everyone she knew,

and the children again, going up in smoke, confront us with their-burnt-hair voices,

and mothers don’t have enough tears, which, before falling on the little bones of a sunflower,

are already steam,

and a mouth full of bullets concedes an interview in which visions of a tomb are constructed,

and the dreams –red marble- of an accordion-like father lets spiders with oven-legs come in,

and our silence remains agitated, not knowing what to do, like a lamp with neither a book nor a 

room,

and the street is not moved before the remnants of a star become frost upon reaching the skin,

and the green horse hides and surrenders the roots sinking in the sky,

or in a field planted with retinas,

or in a house with an empty table, bedroom and heart:

metal and gunpowder and smoke are rising stalagmites.

CINCO SEGUNDOS DEL SIGLO XX

Se respira un lirio sin lluvia, disuelto y a la sombra 

de la máquina de escribir, buscando

la mano derecha de Roque.  Oculto.

Viene (ellos) sobre rizomas y vanos líquidos; aspas de geranios crecen en el rumor de

un verbo mientras disimulan la expresión de ligeros rotos,

variaciones sobre un tema (en) gris

que en estos días llega mientras nos zambullimos en la suerte de unos cuchillos,

o agarramos maromas de sal con sudario,

o nos zambullimos en unas soledades de bolígrafos,

o en ciertas armonías de aura que topan con cuerpo rígido, disperso entre los secretos 

de un caimito:

cómo no, y tengo (tienen) hambre (desde antes y luego); 

y giran alrededor hojas de periódicos, acertando en la concupiscencia no realizada, dejando 

[apenitas en el último soplo los acontecimientos,

ah, cómo disfrutábamos después de haber cavado este barbecho, pleno de esperanzas amarillas,

ensimismado, solitario si llovía, y que aún ve crecer su imagen en la arena:

porque sucede que el polvo se rompió en mil pedazos y acecha,

y la noche quedó herida a mitad del camino,

y el libro que leía se ahogó en sus palabras,

y la rosa dejó de ser infinita,

y el cielo se afeitó la barba,

y la pluma no se corrió por conjugarse en papiros gastados,

y el viento se marchó a unas estalactitas que lo someten a su antojo,

y la lámpara nos ayuda a descubrir cierzos con cara de viernes,

y la inmensa y tibia luz de esta mañana –pecho azul- ha empezado a iluminarse a sí misma,

y las sábanas que habían dejado dudas comenzaron a hincharse de solitarios cuerpos,

y las manos, tuyas y mías, se volvieron calculadoras y mensajeras del olvido,

y el olvido comenzó a deformarse y ya no lo recordamos,

y el libro que sostenía en las manos se quedó sin memoria,

y el café que nos regalaba horas demás se volvió tortugas sin patas,

y la masa que entraba al horno se volvió niño, niño, niño, y salió

niño de ceniza inolvidable, tuyo o mío, ni rey ni infinito, encogiéndose y apretándonos el corazón,

y nuestros niños gritan con alfileres en la garganta,

y se retuercen y quedan bajos como sombras de hormiga,

y hieren al sueño y a la soledad y a la mirada,

aunque sean muy pocos los ojos que ven más allá de su propia luz;

y una madre se coloca un chal verde sobre los hombros y las orejas,

y las mariposas todavía se hunden en una tierra voluptuosa en omisiones,

y los apellidos Markowitz o Jara o Trejo apenas alimentan la memoria,

y esa mujer dispuso alquilar sus escrúpulos para el bien de todos,

y esos niños otra vez, en franca humareda, nos confrontan con voz de cabello abrasado,

y a las madres no les alcalzan las lágrimas que, antes de caer entre los huesillos de los girasoles,

      [ya son vaho,

y una boca llena de balas concede una entrevista en que se construyen visiones de tumba,

y los sueños –mármol rojo- de acordeónico padre ceden paso a las arañas con patas de horno, 

y el silencio queda alborotado, sin saber qué hacer, como lámpara sin libro ni habitación,

y la calle no se conmueve ante los retazos de estrellas que al dar en la piel se cuajan de escarcha,

y el caballo verde se oculta entregándose a la meditación de unas raíces que se hunden en el cielo,

o en un campo sembrado de escleróticas,

o en una casa con mesa, cuarto y corazón desocupados:

el metal y la pólvora y el humo van levantando estalagmitas.

   

 

 

 

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    Storytellers Of Color: Gustavo Melara, Poet By Necessity and Professor By Choice Rossana Longo-Better

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