VenezuelaOne of my first blogs, on January 2 was about the turmoil in Venezuela. I still think I was right then, about the general lines of the conflict. One of my resolutions for 2004 is to analyze that situation in greater depth. (You can view the original if you click on "Archive" on the left and go to 2003/01/02. See also Hugo Chávez' triple struggle).
World literatureAnother of my 2004 resolutions is to learn more poetry "by heart" (which is much better than learning it "by head") -- if not a poem a day, as close as I can manage. It's a wonderful exercise -- even if I later forget a line or a stanza, the process of repeating it and listening to the poem's music and its several meanings helps me understand it, and in the longer run may build my confidence to commit poetry myself. I started a couple of weeks ago with Robert Frost's "Birches" -- a joyous poem about, I think, mortality and bouncing back. Then I picked up a book I had looked into many times but never before tried to read with care, seeking something that sang to me so that I would want to learn it: Pablo Neruda's Canto general (1949), which is a whole history of Latin America in verse. Then T. S. Eliot (so far, about half of "The Lovesong of J. Allen Prufrock," which is delicious), William Carlos Williams, "The Poor" -- not my favorite of his, but I had only a scanty selection available in an anthology on my shelves. Next I turned to one of the most famous voices of the late 19th century, Nicaragua's (and the world's) Rubén Darío. I'm sure every second adult and school child in Nicaragua has learned by heart much more of Darío than I aspire to, but when next I'm there I'll be able to join in on the choruses of "Juventud, divino tesoro,/ ¡Ya te vas para no volver!/Cuando quiero llorar no lloro,/ y a veces lloro sin querer." (Venezuelan writer Miguel Otero Silva assumed everybody would get the reference when he titled a novel Cuando quiero llorar no lloro -- I didn't get it in 1987, when I read the novel.)
For 2004, I resolve to include more fiction and poetry in Spanish in my reading. In 2003, I commented on Gabriel García Márquez' memoir, Vivir para contarla (in "Archive," 2003/01/04). In English, you can find my blogs on Richard Powers, Three Farmers On Their Way to a Dance (01/13); Stephen Crane, Red Badge of Courage (01/20), and several others -- but just go to my Fiction Readings page for a compendium.