Foreword

We are delighted to present the fourth collection of Purple Ink dedicated to Fear. It seems that fear is universal, and poetry is the most desirable dimension to render it. Imagination allows feelings to spread incessantly through words and turn into symbol, acquire a newly born form, while hiding the potentiality of meaning. In the collection, we seek to show how distinctive fear can be, how personalized it becomes, how it is impossible to make one emotion a pan-cultural signal.

In the Argentinian poem by Alejandra Pizarnik fear allows the poet to break free and realize the tragic split between the everyday and the creation of the self: “Fear of being two
road of the reflection: / someone asleep in me/ eats me and drinks me’’. The poet is afraid that her poetic ego will devour her personality. Inspiration here is shown as a predator’s hunger for details, feeding the poet’s imagination. Marea (‘’Tide’’) by a Colombian poet, Carolina Rodríguez Mayo, approaches the same theme but addresses the fragility of the poetic world: “Don’t want to stumble and fall that merciless sky blue is in my dreams’’, she says and blinds her eyes in black, so ‘’it won’t rise, it stops dreaming.’’ José Martí, a nineteenth-century Cuban poet, a symbol of Cuban independence, resists his fear of physical pain by writing his verse, ‘’sweet consolation.’’ He proclaims that the power of the pen can stand against the violence of sword. Fear growing into terror, created by the disturbed mind, is what the Maupassant’s poem narrates, taking the same steps in poetry, as Edgar Allan Poe in prose. The Italian poem by Ada Negri is about the panic feeling a woman has, starting her new life after separation during WWI, yielding to its overwhelming nature.

And the days and nights to come
appear as impenetra-
ble masks; the livid past and present
weigh like a massive stone
on my heart.

The Russian contemporary poet, Alia Khajtlina, created a poetic narrative that looks to pause maturation and transform a poetic meditation about the brevity of life into a hide-and-seek game, where the poet reverses the flow of time, by counting from 100 to 1: ‘’Twenty-one – I live alone, twenty – both eyes on fire, legs scratched up, a demon in my ribs, thoughts are running bent down, somebody is waiting for me, somebody from the tenth floor. Ten – I finish the fourth grade, no need to make breakfast. Need to hurry up. In August I will turn nine. Eight – keychain on my neck, melting in the morning sun …’’

Fear manifests as a condition of desensibilization of the outside world and de-temporalization of social time. It is a congestion leading to failure, a psychological and physical sensation of immobility.

Argentina

Alejandra Pizarnik
El árbol de Diana, 1962

14

El poema que no digo,
el que no merezco.
Miedo de ser dos
camino del espejo:
alguien en mí dormido
me come y me bebe.

Pizarnik, Alejandra. “14.” Poesía completa. Editorial Lumen, 2015, pp. 116.


14

The poem that I do not say,
the one I do not disserve.
Fear of being two
road of the reflection:
someone asleep in me
eats me and drinks me.


Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-72) was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Ukrainian Jewish parents. She was heavily influenced by the French symbolists, primarily Mallarmé and Rimbaud, whose young restless souls no doubt offered solace to Pizarnik, a fellow adolescent struggling with her self-esteem and drug addiction. Reoccurring tensions in her poetry include loneliness, childhood, pain and death. This poem is included in her fourth collection, Árbol de Diana, published after her travels to Paris. Pizarnik committed suicide at the age of thirty-six.

Pizarnik’s poem is short, but powerful. The poetic voice struggles with identity, specifically the split identity suffered by a being who is simultaneously a human and a poet. The human embodies the corporeal self while the poet murmurs an internal voice looking to break through. Are the human and the poet complimentary forces? Do they reflect each other across the mirror that presides in the reflection of their eyes? As the human walks the earth, the poet grows within, nourishing itself on the human’s life, its lived matter. Fear manifests itself in this tension, this clash between forces. Fear is the poet on the verge of breaking free.

Prepared by Mai Hunt

Colombia

Carolina Rodríguez Mayo

Marea

entrecierro los ojos
para disimular las lágrimas
respiro
a hondas bocanadas
aprieto las manos
envejecidas
por tanta sal

miro alrededor
un color azulado
me ciega
me asedia
camino con los brazos estirados
no quiero tropezar
no quiero tropezar
y caerme

aquél celeste inclemente
está en mis sueños
bajos los párpados cerrados
un color azul
-azul de mar adentro-
ahoga mi cabeza

ciega
en tonos de cristal
y cielo
nublada en índigo
nublada desde adentro
sollozo
que no puedo ver

uso las manos
como palas
las entierro en mi barriga
busco encontrar
ese espíritu inanimado
espíritu coloreado de añil

lo sostengo
arranco sus ojos
lo ciego en negro
para que no se eleve
para que deje de soñar
sombra
sin piedritas cobalto
sin luz

cegado en la oscuridad
aprenderás a caminar
sin mirar hacia arriba
con los pies cementados al suelo.


Tide

I squint my eyes
to conceal my tears
I breathe
deep gasps
I clinch my hands
aged
by so much salt

I look around
a bluish color
besieges me
I walk with stretched arms
I don’t want to stumble
I don’t want to stumble
and fall

that merciless sky blue
is in my dreams
I lower my eyes shut
a blue color
– the blue offshore –
drowns my head

blind
in shades of crystal
and sky
clouded in indigo
clouded from within
I sob
since I can’t see

I use my hands
as shovels
I bury them in my stomach
I hope to find
that inanimate spirit
spirit colored in woad

I hold it
rip out its eyes
I blind it in black
so it won’t rise
so it stops dreaming
shadow
with no cobalt pebbles
with no light

blinded in the dark
you will learn how to walk
without looking up
with your feet cemented to the ground.


Carolina Rodríguez Mayo was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1991. Traveler and writer, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Literature with a minor in Philosophy. She has published her work in online journals from Bogotá such as Sombralarga and Sinestesia. She was chosen as part of an anthology of young poets, Afloramientos, los puentes de regreso al pasado están rotos, by Fallidos Editores. She was awarded the first honorable mention in the 12th edition of the prestigious Eduardo Carranza Poetry Award in Colombia.

Regarding her work, Carolina is emphatic about the openness of her creative process: “Writing is the only thing that comforts me. Everything I write is an invitation to dialogue.” When asked about this poem, “Marea,” she added: “When we want to obtain something, that desire can become overwhelming. This poem was written from the deep fear that dreams can cause.”

Prepared by Nicolas Barbosa Lopez

Cuba

José Martí
Versos sencillos, 1891

XXXV

¿Qué importa que tu puñal
se me clave en el riñón?
¡Tengo mis versos, que son
más fuertes que tu puñal!

¿Qué importa que este dolor
seque el mar, y nuble el cielo?
El verso, dulce consuelo,
nace alado del dolor.

Martí, José. “XXXV”. Versos. Editorial Tr’opico, 1942, pp. 93.


XXXV

What does it matter that your dagger
stabs me in the kidney?
I have my verses, which are
stronger than your dagger!

What does it matter that this pain
dries the sea and clouds the sky?
The verse, sweet consolation,
is born winged from pain.


Cuban poet José Martí (1853-1895) was one of Latin America’s most notable figures throughout the nineteenth century. A writer, translator and political figure, he became involved in the revolutionary impulses of his country and has now become a symbol of Cuban independence. Versos sencillos is the last collection of poetry published before Martí’s death. Composed while he was in the US, Martí’s poems center around themes of freedom, specifically as they relate to the composition of poetic verse, which is affirmed in the collection’s prologue where Martí proclaims that his verses are born from his heart.

This poem is perhaps an unconventional choice for our edition on fear as it does not speak directly of fear itself. The poetic voice proclaims the power of the pen against the sword, affirming the power of verse to fight and stand again violence. Here, poetic forces combat, and perhaps defend, the poet from bodily violence. Written in the years preceding Cuba’s independence from colonial Spanish forces, Martí’s poem can be understood as a cry to arms, a proclamation of action in the face of opposition. Though circumstances might be dangerous, and while the creating of poetic verse may be painful, the prospect of suffering does not impede the poet from his work. The poet does not surrender in the face of fear.

Prepared by Mai Hunt

France

Guy de Maupassant
Des Vers, 1880

Terreur

Ce soir-là j’avais lu fort longtemps quelque auteur.
Il était bien minuit, et tout à coup j’eus peur.
Peur de quoi ? je ne sais, mais une peur horrible.
Je compris, haletant et frissonnant d’effroi,
Qu’il allait se passer une chose terrible…
Alors il me sembla sentir derrière moi
Quelqu’un qui se tenait debout, dont la figure
Riait d’un rire atroce, immobile et nerveux :
Et je n’entendais rien, cependant. O torture !
Sentir qu’il se baissait à toucher mes cheveux,
Et qu’il allait poser sa main sur mon épaule,
Et que j’allais mourir au bruit de sa parole !…
Il se penchait toujours vers moi, toujours plus près ;
Et moi, pour mon salut éternel, je n’aurais
Ni fait un mouvement ni détourné la tête…
Ainsi que des oiseaux battus par la tempête,
Mes pensers tournoyaient comme affolés d’horreur.
Une sueur de mort me glaçait chaque membre,
Et je n’entendais pas d’autre bruit dans ma chambre
Que celui de mes dents qui claquaient de terreur.Un craquement se fit soudain ; fou d’épouvante,
Ayant poussé le plus terrible hurlement
Qui soit jamais sorti de poitrine vivante,
Je tombai sur le dos, roide et sans mouvement.

Retrieved from: https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Des_vers/Terreur


Terror

That night I read some book until it was late.
It was around midnight and all of sudden I got scared.
What was I scared of ? I do not know, but I was awfully scared.
Breathless and shivering, I understood
That something terrible was about to happen…
And then it seemed I could feel that someone
Was standing behind me, still, laughing a bloodcurdling laugh.
Yet, I couldn’t hear anything. O torture !
I could feel he was bending to touch my hair
And that he was about to put his hand on my shoulder
And that I was going to die as soon as he would speak.
He was still leaning towards me, closer and closer,
And to stay alive, I wouldn’t move or even look away…
Similar to a bird beaten by a storm,
My thoughts swirled, panic-striken.
Sweat cold as death turned my blood to ice,
And I couldn’t hear anything else in my bedroom
Than the noise my chattering teeth were making.

I suddenly heard a crack ; scared to death,
I let out the most terrible scream
That any living creature ever produced,
And I felt down, on my back, stiff and motionless.


In order to fully understand this poem, it is important to remember that Guy de Maupassant is considered one of the fathers of the modern short story. He wrote both realist and fantastic stories and novels, but he’s most remembered for the latter. Short stories such as “Le Horal” describe supernatural phenomena. However, in Maupassant’s work, the supernatural is often implicitly a symptom of the protagonist’s troubled mind. Maupassant was fascinated by the disciple of psychiatry.

In regard of Maupassant’s work and legacy, this poem is quite interesting as it is an illustration of what he is remembered for. This poem depicts someone who is reading late at night and suddenly literally gets scared to death. We do not know what the person is reading – maybe a horror story ? – but all the elements of a traditional horror story are here : the time (midnight, this magical and cursed hour when anything can happen), the setting (the protagonist is all alone in the room), the plot (a threatening presence you can’t rationally explain). It is very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe, who could have inspired Maupassant to write this poem.

The reader can only see what the protagonist sees, but there is some piece of evidence showing that everything is happening inside the protagonist’s head: someone is laughing but he can’t hear the laugh, he can’t hear anything but his own body, and can’t see who’s here. This poem can be read as an illustration of how horror stories trick your mind and make you paranoid, as well as a mise en abyme of the reader’s own experience while reading this poem, but also in a fantastic or horror story. It emphasizes how one’s mind reacts to this kind of stories.

Prepared by Margaux Renvoise

 

 

Italy

Ada Negri
1914

PÀNICO

Paura della vita, a tradimento
or su me piombi, e il tuo nodo scorsoio
mi getti al collo; ed in me stessa io muoio
senza morire, diaccia di spavento.

Ed i giorni e le notti che verranno
m’appaion come maschere impenetra-
bili; e con peso di massiccia pietra
l’ieri e l’oggi sul cuor lividi stanno.

Da coloro che un dì chiamai fratelli
sì lontana mi sento, che a soccorso
non grido: non udrebbero: ahimè!…corso
troppo ho dinanzi a lor, con piè ribelli.

Ciò che fu non è più—ciò ch’è presente
non vale—sul futuro c’è una porta
chiusa, di bronzo.—Io son fra quella porta
e il mio terrore.—Io son quasi demente.

Pure conviene attender l’alba, attendere
con piè fermo, con fisso occhio, il ritorno
del sole. E il sol guardare, e il chiaro giorno
godere, come un fior—senza comprendere.

Negri, Ada. Esilio, Fratelli Treves Edizioni, Milano, 1914, pp. 29-30


PANIC

Fear of life, now unexpectedly you overwhelm
me; and with your noose
you tighten your grasp on my neck; and inside
myself I die
without dying, frozen with fear.

And the days and nights to come
appear as impenetra-
ble masks; the livid past and present
weigh like a massive stone
on my heart.

Far away from those who, once, I called brothers
I feel, without calling for help:
they would not hear: alas!…With rebellious feet
I have run too far in front of them.

No residue of the past—and the present
is worthless—at the threshold of the future,
there is a closed door, made of bronze.—I am
between that door
and my fears.—I am almost insane.

Yet we should wait for a new dawn, wait
with firm feet and a fixed gaze toward the return
of the sun. And gaze at the sun, and bask in
the clear day, like a flower—without understanding.


The poem “Pànico” is part of Ada Negri’s volume Exile that was first published in 1914 by Fratelli Treves in Milan. In 1913, after the separation from her husband, Negri moved from Milan to Zurich; it is in this new and foreign city and in the midst of feelings after the separation that she wrote Exile, an autobiographical collection. The volume is divided in four parts, of which the titles trace the interior struggles of the author : “Solitude,” “A river among the rocks,” “Get up and walk,” and “Travel mates.” Within the fear of the war, in 1914 Negri left Zurich to go back to Milan, where she made crucial political choices supporting Benito Mussolini. After several collaborations with the most popular Italian journals, in 1931, she was awarded the Mussolini’s Prize to the career and became an icon among fascist intellectuals. In 1940, she was the first woman member of the Italian Academy. However, despite her success and recognitions, Ada Negri’s poems do not commonly appear in Italian contemporary literature manuals.

Should we remember or forget Ada Negri’s poems, given her political position?

The poems are cohesively organized to represent the process of Negri’s interior rebirth after the end of her relationship. The poem that I have here translated, “Pànico,” is in the first part of the volume. The condition of feeling “fear of life” opening the first stanza develops in the following verses and grows in panic. The leitmotiv of the first stanza echoes the condition of submission of the second stanza, of loss of hope of the third, and, ultimately, of the utter immobility described in the fourth stanza. At the end, panic has led to “not understanding,” which is a status of surrender that the author further elaborates in the following poem, titled “To understand.”

Prepared by Leonora Masini

Russia

Alya Kudryasheva (Alia Khajtlina)
2007

Mama na dache

Мама на даче, ключ на столе, завтрак можно не делать. Скоро каникулы, восемь лет, в августе будет девять. В августе девять, семь на часах, небо легко и плоско, солнце оставило в волосах выцветшие полоски. Сонный обрывок в ладонь зажать, и упустить сквозь пальцы. Витька с десятого этажа снова зовет купаться. Надо спешить со всех ног и глаз – вдруг убегут, оставят. Витька закончил четвертый класс – то есть почти что старый. Шорты с футболкой – простой наряд, яблоко взять на полдник. Витька научит меня нырять, он обещал, я помню. К речке дорога исхожена, выжжена и привычна. Пыльные ноги похожи на мамины рукавички. Нынче такая у нас жара – листья совсем как тряпки. Может быть, будем потом играть, я попрошу, чтоб в прятки. Витька – он добрый, один в один мальчик из Жюля Верна. Я попрошу, чтобы мне водить, мне разрешат, наверно. Вечер начнется, должно стемнеть. День до конца недели. Я поворачиваюсь к стене. Сто, девяносто девять.

Мама на даче. Велосипед. Завтра сдавать экзамен. Солнце облизывает конспект ласковыми глазами. Утро встречать и всю ночь сидеть, ждать наступленья лета. В августе буду уже студент, нынче – ни то, ни это. Хлеб получерствый и сыр с ножа, завтрак со сна невкусен. Витька с десятого этажа нынче на третьем курсе. Знает всех умных профессоров, пишет программы в фирме. Худ, ироничен и чернобров, прямо герой из фильма. Пишет записки моей сестре, дарит цветы с получки, только вот плаваю я быстрей и сочиняю лучше. Просто сестренка светла лицом, я тяжелей и злее, мы забираемся на крыльцо и запускаем змея. Вроде они уезжают в ночь, я провожу на поезд. Речка шуршит, шелестит у ног, нынче она по пояс. Семьдесят восемь, семьдесят семь, плачу спиной к составу. Пусть они прячутся, ну их всех, я их искать не стану.

Мама на даче. Башка гудит. Сонное недеянье. Кошка устроилась на груди, солнце на одеяле. Чашки, ладошки и свитера, кофе, молю, сварите. Кто-нибудь видел меня вчера? Лучше не говорите. Пусть это будет большой секрет маленького разврата, каждый был пьян, невесом, согрет, теплым дыханьем брата, горло охрипло от болтовни, пепел летел с балкона, все друг при друге – и все одни, живы и непокорны. Если мы скинемся по рублю, завтрак придет в наш домик, Господи, как я вас всех люблю, радуга на ладонях. Улица в солнечных кружевах, Витька, помой тарелки. Можно валяться и оживать. Можно пойти на реку. Я вас поймаю и покорю, стричься заставлю, бриться. Носом в изломанную кору. Тридцать четыре, тридцать…

Мама на фотке. Ключи в замке. Восемь часов до лета. Солнце на стенах, на рюкзаке, в стареньких сандалетах. Сонными лапами через сквер, и никуда не деться. Витька в Америке. Я в Москве. Речка в далеком детстве. Яблоко съелось, ушел состав, где-нибудь едет в Ниццу, я начинаю считать со ста, жизнь моя – с единицы. Боремся, плачем с ней в унисон, клоуны на арене. “Двадцать один”, – бормочу сквозь сон. “Сорок”, – смеется время. Сорок – и первая седина, сорок один – в больницу. Двадцать один – я живу одна, двадцать: глаза-бойницы, ноги в царапинах, бес в ребре, мысли бегут вприсядку, кто-нибудь ждет меня во дворе, кто-нибудь – на десятом. Десять – кончаю четвертый класс, завтрак можно не делать. Надо спешить со всех ног и глаз. В августе будет девять. Восемь – на шее ключи таскать, в солнечном таять гимне…

Три. Два. Один. Я иду искать. Господи, помоги мне.

Retrieved from https://izubr.livejournal.com/218085.html


Mum at dacha

Mother’s at dacha, keys are on the table, no need to make breakfast. Summer vacation is coming up, I’m eight, but in August I’ll turn 9. In August, I’ll turn 9, it’s 7am. The sky is light and flat, the sun left the strips in my hair. To catch a dream and clasp it in your palms, and let it go through the cracks of your fingers. Vit’ka from the tenth floor wanted to go swimming. Need to hurry up – they could leave without me. Vit’ka’s just finished the fourth grade, so you could say he is about to become old. Shorts and a T-shirt – plain outfit, an apple for a snack later. Vit’ka will teach me how to dive. He promised – I remember. The dirt path to the river is covered in footprints, baked, familiar. My dusty feet look like mum’s mittens. It’s so hot today – the leaves look like rags. Maybe, we’ll play later – I’ll ask for hide-and-seek. Vit’ka is nice. Exactly like the boy from Jules Verne. I’ll ask to be the leader, I think they’ll let me. Evening will come, should get dark. One day till the end of the week. I’m turning to the wall. One hundred ninety-nine.

Mum is at dacha. Bicycle. Have to take an exam tomorrow. The sun is licking my homework with its sweet eyes. To meet every morning and sit all through night, waiting for the summer to come. In august I’ll be a student, but for now I’m neither of these. This bread is half stiff and I’m picking cheese from the top of the knife, breakfast while your sleepy doesn’t taste as good. Vit’ka from the tenth floor, is already a junior. Knows all the smartest profs and makes programs for a company. Thin, ironical and dark-browed just like a movie hero. Writes notes to my sister, gives her flowers, but I swim faster and I write better poems. The thing is my sister’s face is always so bright, and I’m heavier and more spiteful. We climb up onto the porch to fly the kite. Seems they are leaving at night, I’m taking them to the train. The river is rustling and whispering at my feet, now it’s at my waist. Seventy-eight, seventy-seven, I’m crying, my back is turned to the train. Let them hide, I don’t care, I’m not going to look for them.

My mum is at dacha. My head is splitting. Dreamy stillness. The cat’s perched on my chest, the sun’s on the blanket. Cups, palms and sweaters, coffee, I’m begging you, please make coffee! Did anybody see me yesterday? Better not know. Let it be a big secret about a little debauchery. Everyone was drunk, weightless, warmed up by their liquidy friend, my voice is hoarse from talking so much, ash raining from a balcony, everyone with each other and everyone on their own, alive and rebellious. If we chip in a ruble, breakfast will come to our house, God, how I love you all, like rainbow in my palms. The street is in sunny patterns, Vit’ka, wash the dishes. We can lay and come back to life. We can go to the riverbank. I’ll catch you and conquer you, give you a shave and a haircut. Shove your nose into the bark. Thirty-four, thirty…

Mom’s in the photo. The key is in the lock. Eight hours till the summer begins. The sun is on walls, on my backpack, on my old sandals. Walking on my sleepy paws, there’s place to hide. Vit’ka is in Amerika. I’m in Moscow. The river’s now in my distant childhood. The apple’s been eaten, the train’s left the station, going somewhere off to Nice, I begin to count from one hundred, my life, from one. We struggle, we cry together like clowns at a circus. ‘’Twenty-one’’ – I mumble still half-asleep. Forty – Time laughs. Forty and my first grey hairs, forty-one – at the hospital. Twenty-one – I live alone, twenty – both eyes on fire, legs scratched up, a demon in my ribs, thoughts are running bent down, somebody is waiting for me, somebody from the tenth floor. Ten – I finish the fourth grade, no need to make breakfast. Need to hurry up. In August I will turn nine. Eight – keychain on my neck, melting in the morning sun …

Three, two, one. Ready or not, here I come. Lord, please, help me.

Translated by Alexander Dumanis and Natalia Vygovskaia


A contemporary Saint-Petersburg poet, Alya Kudriasheva (Khaitlina since 2018), was 20 years when she wrote this poem. She started writing poems, first, as a LiveJournal user Izubr. Alya quickly became famous due to massive reposting of her pieces and critical acclaim. We have included it in our current volume because it is about most tormenting and common fears, and yet the poem seems to protect the poet and the reader against their destructive force.

It starts narrating childhood and ends referring to a popular kids’ hide-and-seek game. The poet counts from 100 to 1. The numbers appear in each stanza and separate significant life changes, although they are not calendar dates or chronological markers. Numbers gradually decrease, creating the effect of time flowing away. The last line, when the count reaches 1, could have evoked an association with life coming to its end, if Alya had not suddenly called as a hide-and-seek player (Три-два-раз. Я иду искать): ‘’Three. Two. One. Ready, or not, here I come.’’ The tragic feeling of aging here gives the way to a playful mood, that mismatches the reader’s expectations and changes the tone of the poem from slightly melancholic, nostalgic to mischievous and vibrant.

The rhythm of the poem is like clock ticking. Its powerful sound pulls us through whirlpools of life of a person who is growing up and out of her fears. When one is eight years old, their biggest fear is to be left alone. A teenager falls in love for the first time and becomes afraid of unrequited love. Adolescence with its joys of brotherhood, affection and debauchery contrasts adulthood that shows loneliness, illness and helplessness against Chronos. And in order to resist the most terrifying fear, that is of death, the poet returns to childhood and stops the count. In her poetic world, time has no power. It is the poet, who reverses its flow and decides when to pause her growth.

Prepared by Natalia Vygovskaia