The revista literaria El Malpensante has an interesting article based on the column written in a Polish newspaper for 30 years by the Nobel prize winner Wislawa Szymborska.
In Cómo escribir and cómo no escribir poesía they have selected a few of the replies Szymborska made to readers who aspired to write poetry. Most of the article is interesting, but I have selected just two snippets.
The first, chosen because it ties in with my interest in translation:
Para H. O., de Poznan, un posible traductor
El traductor no está obligado a serle fiel al texto únicamente. Debe dejar ver la belleza de la poesía conservando su forma y reteniendo, en la medida de lo posible, el estilo y el espíritu de la época.
Which translates roughly as: “The translator does not have to be faithful to the text alone. He should let the beauty of the poetry be seen, maintaining the form, and, as far as possible, the style and the spirit of the age.”
I chose the second snippet because it made me think a little more positively about my day:
Para Putzka, de Radom
El aburrimiento debe ser descrito con gusto. ¿Cuántas cosas están ocurriendo en un día en el que no pasa nada?
“Boredom should be described with pleasure/enthusiasm. How many things are happening on a day when nothing is happening?”
For me, the Spanish phrasing there has an advantage over English in that the word for “described” – descrito – triggers a mental jump to “written” – escrito. And it reminds me that all this ‘I can’t think of anything to write about’ that I seem to be suffering with lately as far as poetry is concerned could probably be solved by actually stopping and focusing on something specific without worrying how ordinary it might be.
Which in turn reminds me of Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when one of Phaedrus’ students has problems getting started on a 500-word essay about the USA.
After getting more and more frustrated as he tells her to narrow the subject down, first to the city, then to a single street, then a single building, she eventually ends up writing 5,000 words triggered by focusing on the upper left-hand brick of the façade of the Opera House in Bozeman. The section can be read on Texas A&M university website.