Antoni Clapés is a poet, traslator and essayist on poetics and the experimental arts.
His poetry has been published more than twenty books and numerous anthologies and periodicals, and he has read, performed, and lectured throughout Europe and Latin America.
His most recent publications are Pluja, L’arquitectura de la llum, La llum i el no-res, Alta Provença, Destret and in nuce.
He is the editor and publisher at Cafè Central in Barcelona.
Poems – a selection (translated by Matthew Tree)
With a trembling hand he feels
the grey blossom at his temples:
he can barely recognise himself
in this emaciated face
– with bags under his eyes
and a stare focussed
on earlier days –
which the mirror duplicates, tirelessly.
His memories, all of a sudden, echo
like shaky steps in an empty nave.
An old desire returns to him. A tree
seems to be born inside him,
and he feels its powerful branches stretch beyond him:
bodies, young skins, lips…
Crumbs of love
that the birds of time
The wind hardly sways
the poplars by the gully. It would seem
that time has stood still, the constant
heartbeat of life, the memory
The new day
breaks, and slowly unfolds
a sheet of light
which gives the world its breath back:
this unbearable silence,
this fruitless searching.
I should have got up to turn on
the lamplight, before shadows
invaded the room: it got late
reading Goethe’s elegies,
the dream of pure longing for eternity,
unbridled love that returns each evening,
the gold of the days, rediscovered at summer’s end.
Between the gaps in the blind
I make out a landscape peopled with statues,
of galleries where the spirit
of time wanders,
Now I understand the marble; I reflect and compare.
Then you would abandon Greifswald, on foot:
the towers of Saint Nicolas and Saint James
shrouded by a slow, blue membrane; the feeble Pomeranian
sun: the sick light of midday
spread over the recently harvested
fields; the smell of hay; the dusty Baltic wind.
(This inner landscape that was painted
only for you, nature –now–
would give it back to you, reproduced mentally.)
You would walk over the narrow, dry moor, far from the villages,
you would avoid too much contact with people. Lying
among thickets of periwinkle emerging from the white sand,
you would rethink a strophe by Scardanelli.
Slowness, lastingness. The search.
You would inhabit the peace of life stretched out.
You would wait without hoping for anything
– or nothing.
Observe, meditate before acting.
Not about the action, rather
about the very essence of writing.
Be silent – feel the silence – in order to say.
From the branch, learn serenity.
Until you are (the) branch.
rustle of silences.
Behind the cypress fence
the empty house.
After the rain
no reason, no action.
Only the ephemeral trace
which imitates silence.
Like spilled gold, the light
transports the desert air
of the setting sun, dust of memories. You listen
to the silences of Webern, the pure
voice of the absent. With a finely sharpened
pencil you want to retain this now
which seems to you to be eternal, you try
to inhabit places which words
have already abandoned.
And in not wanting to follow any path
you tread out a new one.
Swifts splinter the silence,
this transparent air
of the bejewelled summer.
Now there is nothing
which is yours
– anywhere –
except this unveiling (of yourself)
which self have you been
of so many selves
that you believed yourself to be.
Strip yourself: awake you will understand
the light, the abstract, this
writing – hunger-making bread –
Then when nothingness
is still the name of nothingness.
which is not even word anymore
which is a non-saying
this not even nothingness
if the wind not even the wind does not shift
if everything is truly nothing
if the minimum begins to be excessive
SEVEN POEMS translated from the Catalan by D.Sam Abrams
if the wind not even the wind transports
if all is quite nothing
if the least is coming to be excessive
no sound no action
moss encroaching upon the white pebbles
Reading at random a few poems
of yours, in the early morning.
Shut the book, shut your eyes.
Reread all the poems
—now with your inner eyes only.
Knowing that, for today,
there can be nothing more to do.
into the language of estrangement:
is able to harbor what you write.
A morning flight of starlings:
silence is also speech.
(Only silence is speech.)
To be — without a destiny.
hints of dust:
footsteps of absence
Listen to the silence of the slight breeze
there where the poem left its words behind.