John Tranter (Cooma, Nueva Gales del Sur, Australia, 1943) Poeta, ensayista, crítico antólogo. Ha publicado, entre otros títulos: Parallax, (1970); Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets, (1977); Dazed in the Ladies Lounge, (1979); Selected Poems, (1983); Under Berlin, (1983); The Floor of Heaven, (1983); At The Florida, (1993); Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected, (2006) y Starlight: 150 Poems, (2010).
Tranter, pertenece a la denominada Generación del 68 y es uno de los protagonistas centrales en la actualización de la poesía australiana y de su alejamiento de la tradición poética inglesa y su acercamiento a la norteamericana. Su obra esta marcada por el trauma de la guerra en Vietnam y las influencias del jazz y de los Beats.
En 1997 fundó la revista Jacket, medio decisivo para la difusión del trabajo de poéticas periféricas en lengua inglesa, la dirigió hasta 2010, año en que la transfirió a la Universidad de Pennsylvania (EEUU).
Hôtel de Ville
Los jóvenes en el último año de la secundaria
deberían visitar un museo histórico, para entender
la vergüenza como una de las formas
de la victoria de Clinton. Por otra parte,
la deuda externa de la Comunidad Europea
es causa de pesadillas para todos. Por lo tanto
tenemos la necesidad de resolver el problema
de los alumnos que deben leer textos difíciles
que los guiarán por el camino equivocado:
¿Por qué Rimbaud abandonó el socialismo por el capitalismo?
Como si esto tuviera alguna importancia. Él es su propio
premio consuelo. Estaríamos encantados de tener su uniforme.
También queremos ver todas esas cosas del arte moderno.
Gracias. Oprima el botón con la leyenda “monumento”
y vea qué sucede: una voz grabada repite “he desperdiciado mi vida”
y nosotros pagamos para escuchar.
El viajero allí sentado se encorva sobre la mesa,
su mano juega con el vaso de pálido, agrio líquido.
En un rincón poco iluminado alguien toca una mandolina
y el calor vacila en la entrada.
Puede ver el ómnibus arrastrándose hacia
el desierto. Habiendo llegado a ninguna parte,
él encuentra una porción de desesperanza como una
pistola acurrucándose en cómodo equilibrio en la mano.
(versión Esteban Moore)
Your ruin begins here, on the invitation, its
remember? you went to gloomy London on a wet Sunday;
taxi pumped full of gas I'm talking through the tube
I searched your rooms, your diary, when you were gone,
but found nothing
at dawn a flash of grief in the kitchen
like a snapshot, the burn damage years later -
the camera fakes a portrait locked in that domain
I listen for your words
in the space between lightning and thunder:
that gangling vitality I loved now seems robotic
art operates alongside white racks of illness
notice the gallery owner adjust her taxable assets
this twinkling is brought on by their medication
it's due to a scattering of black tablets
rattling in a tin
yes I only spent time and money on the telephone call
so you could feel better, so you would get happier
a week later I understood her spleen philosophy
her greenish look
they can judge that to mean intimacy, or torment
I'm capable of anything when I'm distressed
behind the snow-shouldered hills, mountains of
cloud heaped up,
in the gloomy suburb at the foot of Echo Point
everyone can hear their neighbors lying
bad liquor bottled and locked in the truck
and Dakota Bitter,
he tilts the seat forward, and finds the weapon
among the rubbish and shadow on the floor
these were the plutocrats of the beach afternoon
the lamplight recalled
childhood evenings playing Animal Snap with his
aunt and uncle, lemon squash, a bottle of gin
dressed-up and happy as a prize pig and
I was tainted with the taste of rain
furious people, burnt like meat on a grill
oh, what's the use of being the top dog in this
run off to the big city, get sick in a hailstorm
waiting for your acolytes in a red fur coat
under the holiday moon she looked like a pudgy pup,
slush on the windscreen
clanky wipers, the blue cloud, and the furniture
she was sobbing but she conducted the orchestra
her Mickey Mouse socks like a shout, an affidavit
attacking the drab
and now the radio speaks from our Sister Cities
with stories of angels seen haloed though a prism
lawn-drenching dawn unfolds her sprinklers
under a tree -
you have to take a deep breath and drive him there
to the greenhouse, among the squeaky parakeets
his confused and malevolent misdirections got
you are your own discipline, a motor in a shell,
this is a smeared vision of how you see things
wiping the sheet of acetate and looking through
the blurry plastic
at some old fool wearing stretch briefs instead of
a nylon swimsuit as the regulations require
his floppy dick hanging out the slot - where's
you'd turn up to meet him crying, and you should not;
everything's bronzed like the scales on a baby piranha
my room writes a terrible blank onto the mirrors
dead ring telephone
four hundred volts in the shower - is that my fate?
to find myself lost, just as I turn to go home.
First published in New American Writing
Copyright © 1997 John E.Tranter
I can hear the stop-work whistle
down at the Club, can I go home now?
Then I see Grace Kelly,
the young Grace Kelly!
'Starlet Fever', that's what it is.
I keep hearing the word 'workaholic'.
Echoing, echoing. The Doc says
take a tablet.
How do you feel down there? Okay?
Take a dive. Bite the bullet. It's
the jim-jams, I've got the jim-jams.
I think he said 'phenomenology'.
I keep hearing jackhammers, it's
the jackhammers, that's what it is.
Do you know Jacky Rackett?
Do I know Jacky Rackett?
Lovely type of a feller. Dropped his packet.
I keep hearing syllables, polysyllables.
Do I know Sherelle? Young Sherelle?
Then I hear an Appaloosa, getting closer,
the clip-clop racket in the bracken, then
a clattering gallop on the gravel,
I hear the hullabaloo.
How d'you do, sir. Jacky Rackett?
Top o'the Paddock, sir, the witch's cat.
Then I can see Grace Kelly again,
up close, it's getting warmer.
Down here in Third Class it's getting warmer.
Pull the toggle. No, blow the whistle.
I keep hearing the word 'histrionic'.
Is that better? Snug in a rug?
Do you know Gary Langer? Barry Langer?
They were both practising solicitors.
I keep hearing polysyllables,
Now that's a clavier sonata!
That's the cat's pyjamas! No,
it's the Appaloosa! Barry! Gary!
How are you going, you old bastard!
I keep hearing these unpredictable
polysyllables, it's like the Name of God.
Isn't God indelible? Indivisible?
I can see a Californian kitchen, I'm
visiting Gidget, isn't she cute?
I can almost reach out and touch her,
gently. I pour us a Coke and it bubbles.
Is this Paradise? Is it really Paradise?
Hey, there's Jack Napier. Jack Napier!
Absolute type of a gentleman. Wouldn't
hurt you with a barge pole. Jack's
a jumper. Jack invented the calculus.
Then I hear a rustling noise,
I think I snapped the tape
at the pain threshold, then fell.
Oh Sherelle, will it ever diminish?
Will it ever diminish, and fade away?
Gidget, I'm carrying Gidget, on the beach,
and I stumble! Bugger it!
Down at the Club, the Workers' Club,
the stop-work whistle, should I go home now?
I keep hearing 'intelligent,
Push the toggle-button, the green one,
the illuminated one, no, not that,
the other one! You'll feel
worse at first, considerably worse
at first, until the medicine. Oh boy,
some party! Were you there?
Was I there?
I keep hearing 'medical, paramedical'.
Don't you think it's time to pull the plug?
Push the button? I can see Paul de Man,
Paul de Man, is he in Heaven?
I keep hearing 'shoot, parachute'.
Okay, what odds would you give me?
Push the toggle-button, bird-brain.
This one, or that one?
Go home, time to go home.
Quick, put on the Nazi uniform.
He says 'Quick, Sherelle, do as I say!'
Why should I?
Why should I?
Who do you think I am? He says -
famous Chinese proverbs - he says
'Quick philosopher, dead solicitor!'
Who do you think I am? Paul de Man?
I can hear a whistle, an emergency whistle.
Now I can see the tropical effluent.
I think it's moving in our direction.
Dog paddle! Back-pedal!
That's funny, I can't hear a thing.
First published in Verse
Copyright © 1997 John E.Tranter
Thunder unrolling over the vulnerable city,
purple and ink-blue, above the huddle of workers
scrambling to commute, some to a bar where
neon and darkness
conspire to enfold them, the avenues alive with shoppers.
And rustling in the wind high above the age of doubt,
their transparent psyches rain-wet, rent by lightning,
spirits and angels
adrift in the jet-stream know that we have to die,
each of us heavy with hope but a faint shadow trails
between what we need and what's accessible, at noon
rest and distraction,
nightmares at midnight. These ministers query
then relinquish us, but not before this one listens
for alarms or burns, the sigh of passing time,
that one retreating,
skin all aglitter, for whom the avenue of blooms
shall never spell 'love'. The drinkers murmur their
ancestors' games, getting it right without
knowing the meaning,
code deviation: Drink, and drink. For that teacher
boys were everything, once, holding their breath
and proving their passion from a few paces away.
They can be cocksure,
crowded illusions, old pals, school buddies, dodging
into the past you should resurrect, or guess at,
a dim throng resemblance, who thought of your
soul as a plaything -
where to grow frankly through its enigmas means
foreign fucks, sad furious travel, this dilemma:
mud and air, part of the human breath it demands.
Listen to those guys
rattle and blather, he said, and you didn't remember
that melancholy, the twilight autumn air, then
the rumpled nameless force pushing us out
towards the horizon?
Garrulous history tells us that greed and ambition
stir the struggle to make great art, but then
the riders gallop up with their strange truth,
Secretive rumours hang about, floating over the turf
like a low mist, the way you pitched your gay smiles,
not meaning anything, but who spilt our secrets?
Blabbing and telling!
Told them the story, but we spoke outline English,
nothing solid, our filthy lies melting into the air.
Buy a memory or two at the pool, who cares if it's
a little dishonest?
Too bad you only smile to rake back a smile
to crush a truth, or in an instant forgive,
each time shadows falling across the yard
laid out in plots that
seem to be speaking, making a pattern, and
like the wind sneaking past, it's what we're
losing that tugs the brain, leaking out; we
kiss and a heartache
ruins our childhood. Yet - no, though
their cruel trade troubles us, the hot boys
grow, grunt and turn in that awful flux,
girls become women,
summers diminish, the snapshots fade, also the
pesky details and the hot bothers that seem to be
all we can recollect of that holiday, that was
more like a combat.
And I remember the neon glow on her lipstick -
click! - her perfume, its melancholy ambience -
these fragments constrain memory into grief, our
mortal lot sliding,
crushing together those dirty complex diversions.
We each knew awkward love, that frail-leafed orchid,
and on her lap a heap of those diurnal notes.
Baffled and restless,
breezes at sunset bring us groans and whispers;
now the tide is full that will carry us off,
afloat on that glassy flood, the sky stooping to
touch us with incense.
This is a painting, of a catastrophe cranked up to
the higher range: look at it, sweetheart, you dazzle,
spell benumb my mouth, pink heart-beats
asking for lightness, an enigmatic spice of hope,
but always at my back I hear a brutal rumbling,
the bursting roar of my own donut-fleshed heart.
A trace of my accent
colours your laughter, a linguistic infection. Upstream
the marriage blueprint's spoiled, and here on the porch
I'm holding you lightly in a dance embrace, watched by
drifting above our foreigner-inflected summer.
My life is just an escapade, not a tragedy, so
thank the energy of the fiery hour, thank that
a crisis that lets a new sentiment shape develop.
And our doting neighbours give us what you see,
unwelcome presents, and it's not even an occasion.
erasing the discord: there they are, portrayed naked:
two lovers aware of the hourglass - figured space
between us - and the futures they build there,
reading a novel
one to the other, pulse to pulse signalling
sex, fear and betrayal, culture rearranged
and magically loosened and tightened again,
appalling encounters, garlands strewn far inland,
haystacks aflame in brilliant streaks in the valleys,
and on that sombre green beside the pond
calmly alighting in the gloom under the trees.
Here the painter has depicted the world's end, two
plausible powers, the red and the black, demons and
hard-hearted men sunk
deep in their silent employment - is it for you? And
for you this dismal project, this politics? And yet
the boys still dive and plunge among the foam,
talking with kisses,
lips intermingled, and rest on your jealous breast.
See, the ancestors lie down before that portrait
and the movie palaces of your youthful solitude
now lie deserted.
Rising to meet us, the ebony hand of night.
Here, a stain of moonlight. There, rippling noises,
love swept gasping through it. Disguises,
painting on linen,
it's a delusion and a false fabric, a sweet elocution
with as little meaning as a blackbird's batty chatter,
the theatre of the mundane drafted onto a backdrop,
forming a pattern where the totally random must be given
a motive and a meaning, sketched across the foreground
near his head. So the artist figures things to come, a
Longing for meaning can be fixed. First it's a problem,
then it's the cure; but we are dispersed into a rigmarole,
into the telling fishhook of a style, and so he
releasing his insights like ink dropped into water.
The audience shivers, watching everything they knew
fracture, their future a lifeless illusion,
slowly at first, then faster: their career path diagrams
riddled by lightning. I'm nursing a drink at twilight,
looking up at the thunderheads lit from below:
into the future that waits for us but doesn't want us,
nor the children, who await their change of faith,
or so I guess, staring down on the late avenues
crowded with feelings.
First published in the Paris Review
Copyright © 1997 John E.Tranter