Le altre lingue: Canada (le aree anglofone) – George Elliott Clarke

Quinto capitolo della rubrica “Le altre lingue” dedicata al Canada anglofono. Il poeta selezionato da Antonio D’Alfonso è George Elliott Clarke. Buona lettura.

George Elliott Clarke (5)

The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke is a revered poet. Now teaching African-Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. Clarke’s poetry has been translated into a full-length book in Italian, namely, George Elliott Clarke: Poesie e Drammi. [Trans. & Ed.] Giulio Marra. Venezia, Italia: Studio LT2, 2012.

George Elliott Clarke – two poems

À Rimini” (1906)                                                           

à la manière de Kipling

When I to Rimini came for Love,
Passing from Dante’s tomb to the beach—
I mean, fleeing Ravenna to this cove—
I didn’t think True Love traduced reach….

I thought the Duke wasn’t beyond reach:
So I took to tramping at nightfall,
To trumpet Desire above recall,
Along the white foam of the strand—
Along the foam of the gold strand….

But never came Paolo to the beach—
Never did hear I his voice reach
My Consciousness and then command,
“Don’t lie in the Count’s bed! We must stand
Erect, to feel God’s outreach….”

I went to the Duke by the Via Aurelia
That runs from Rimini up to France:
I played Caesar, no, Cleopatra—
To launch a spear, deadly in Romance.

If only Rimini believers did know
How to separate God from Inuendo.
If only Rimini Christians were Christian—
Not hypocrites who wreck the Religion—

I could marry Duke Giovanni for
Real, and never face accusation—
The character assassination,
That names Francesca “Paolo’s whore.”

But Duke Giovanni likes a slave—
And I was his wife, nay, Property
He held without having. To the grave,
I’d be his just in name—never free
To love; but Paolo was better
Husband than brother, better lover
Than proxy, unwilling to fetter
His heart, his flesh, what brought me cover.

To the Duke by the Via Aurelia
Went I, to wife, but not to his bed,
Went I to his bed, but not to Love,
Went I to his brother—Paolo—instead.

Not alone as a woman to suffer—
To be spurned—for spite, or Policy;
To be a proxy, offered as proffer,
To stave off War but brave Slavery.

But I came to Rimini for Love.
I went from Dante’s tomb to the beach;
I left Ravenna for the broad cove:
I didn’t think True Love traduced reach.

Though the Duke is dull, he isn’t fair:
His morals pale, his politics pall.
Sly, he makes slain Paolo appear
Black and himself white—an old, bleached doll.

[Barcelona (Spain) 14 & 15 février mmxv]


Julius Caesar’s Report on His Assassination

I saw my own mouth gaping,
in bas-relief on his rapier,
as that bastard Senator,
Marcus Brutus

(whose mama I’d sacked severally),

slammed home the steel,
so I had a dildo sprouting from my mouth:

I went from conqueror of Gaul
to gilded cocksucker,
a poker pricking down my gullet.

My screams got heard as groans,
as I drooped, a mummy in a toga,

blades branching from my body,
then snapping free.

Each medallion’d motherfucker—
these sows who’d eat their own litters—
whacked me with swords like fence posts.

Each had to excavate the hilt even.

The fuckers struck like renovators,
their axe-heads picking at plaster.

Some hyena took bites out my crotch.

As I dropped, panting, a poet
showered me with his “applause”—
a urine homage:
Piss beat taps gainst my cheeks.

(Strike this offense from the histories!
Omit that traitor:
That’s far worse a fate for his Reputation
than his “radical”—nay, infantile—piddling.)

Too easy is it to take a statue prisoner.
That was me.
The Senate’s unpeeled tongues,
pealing “Democracy,”

permitted no Due Process for me.
An epidemic of razors raped
my epidermis, literally—
and my blood outed in a dismaying discharge.

I felt as feeble as an oldster,
helpless evermore,
with white sheets now draping my furniture,
and my Gallic War diaries put to the torch.

[Hull/Gatineau (Québec) 21 mars mmxv]

In copertina: George Elliott Clarke.