- Saloni M swims East
born and bred Melburnian, Lauren Williams
has been a recognisable figure on the Australian poetry scene for 20 years.
she was invited to read at the 5th Festival Internacional de
Poesía en Medellín, Colombia. Entranced by the language
and traumatised by a bad translation, on her return to Melbourne she commenced
and completed a Degree in Spanish language at La Trobe University. She
has since read her own translations of her work in Madrid, Barcelona,
and Costa Rica, and she returned last year to the festival in Medellín
to complete the circle. The pamphlet of translations she put together
for that event was titled Traducciones Bárbaras.
include The Sad Anthropologist, Bad Love Poems and Invisible
Tattoos (Five Islands Press). Since 2000 she has convened the historic
La Mama Poetica readings at La Mama Theatre. In 2002 she received
a New Work grant from the Australia Council. Radio National’s ‘Poetica’
featured her work in November 2003. She has been working with Will Saldaña-Tellez
(guitarist) for 3 years.
the Saloni M swims East
event on Friday, December 5,
January 1998, with Will Saldaña-Tellez
on guitar, and the poem Faulty Neon.
It snowed one morning
on the Paseo del Prado,
snowed on the
orange juice factory workers’
occupation of the median strip,
placards and brightly coloured tents.
Los Tres Reyes Magos
parade, throwing sweets
streets crowded with families
kids how to stay up late
this city of beautiful overcoats.
The glamorous beggar
– good haircut and make-up –
sits on a blanket
on the busy evening footpath,
the stump of
her arm unpacked, the mutilated thigh.
blankness, bare-shouldered in the cold,
picnic without food, lit by a window full of mannequins.
For breakfast, café
con leche y tostadas; for lunch
alcachofas and a glass of red to warm the lonely siesta,
two hours when everyone’s en casa, except the turistas;
for dinner, sopa o tortilla; for supper, churros y chocolate.
The beggar with the
permanent grimace of bitter woe,
weeping, crouching every day against the panadería
window full of sugar, crumpled handkerchief to mouth
and a photograph of himself, smiling, holding a baby,
mi hijo he cries, shaking a polystyrene cup, the dry slither
Later, I see him eating food paid for with
face that all the winds can’t change.
– evening literature panel on TV,
nine men. Poster
for the year’s monthly poetry readings:
and Gloria Fuertes, dead the next year
old age, or from waiting her turn.
– drinking cañas and smoking canutos
Pepa, Luís, Manolo Segundo y Enrique, poetas
Café Manuela en Malasaña.
on tiny squares of paper
photocopied into near illegibility, distributed to the Metro’s
captive readership: Soy alcohólico en desintox, buscando
una pequeña ayuda por favor.
collected in time for the next stop, the next carriage.
at 2 a.m., a tiny club, the resident guitarrista
the older men step in singing and out
the stream, their paternal air as a young man wets his feet.
the Plaza Mayor
through the debris of another evening’s public entertainment,
a sleepless resident shouts ¡Basta ya las navidades!
El Greco, Miró, Picasso… nearby
in front of
the exclusive hotel a trickle of vomit and piss
runs from the
cardboard mattress, the grey puddle of blankets
the blue hand that is not a painting.
Cheers from the windows
of Lavapiés when Madrid scores a gol.
Human pavement crab, half-man on a trolley,
his fearsome, scuttling energy; the spare change fisherman’s
grisly bait, bare legs covered in scabs, laid out
in front of him like the day’s poor catch.
Old lady street vendor selling plastic-coated religious cards.
I buy La Virgen de la Esperanza Macarena and an angel
watching two children cross a plank over a chasm.
Later, a car doesn’t kill me by a fraction of an inch.
At the open air booksellers’ market, a woman feeds
a red squirrel that lives in the tree beside her stall.
Bruja, she calls it tenderly, witch.
One morning the factory workers’ tents are gone,
placards abandoned, defeated by cold or moved on
by the law into history. Instead, men in overalls
with chainsaws and cherrypickers litter the ground
with severed arms of trees. All that firewood, too late.
In the Retiro, three ancianas like black ships of death
tack towards the tall foreigner, selling sprigs of rosemary,
para la memoria, as if I could forget.
to index of artists/performers 2003 - Saloni M swims East page