La Lengua Extraña

Sundays in Madrid are highlighted by El Rastro — an enormous flea market that dominates the area near the Metro stop La Latina.

For our first El Rastro we were delighted to meet a young poet named Nuria Herrera. She sat among the vendor stalls offering to write poems on themes suggested by passers-by. When she learned we were from Chicago she said that she had been inspired to create street poems from the example of somebody in Chicago. (Maybe it’s these people.)

We recommended “la lengua extraña” (“strange language”) as a potential theme for a poem. “What color do you want?” she asked, offering a fan of different colors of paper on which she would type her poem. “Amarillo.”

She sat at her manual typewriter and said, “Give me 30 minutes,” and off we went while she tapped on the keys.

A half hour later she had produced the following poem:

La Lengua Extraña

el capricho de capturar a dios
a  golpe de signo
nos separó Babel
o lo que sea,
ahora mis sinapsis buscan los caminos
que le permitan nombrar las cosas
como se nombran en la tierra q piso.

Esa madre escuchó esa palabra del aire
hace eones
la música hizo el resto
cantaron los significados
hasta que el monte dijo sí
y lo extendieron por los pueblos.

que tremendo olvido del ser separalo
y que tremenda creación tanto inventarlo.

Como si en las células estuviera grabado,
me busco en los andetros la manera
de hablar esa legua extraña
quizá en esta vida, no en otro tiempo.

Nuria Herrera
23.4.17

This poem is beyond my Spanish capabilities. Via Google Translate:

The Strange Language

The caprice of capturing God
A coup d’etat
Nor separated Babel
or whatever,
Now my synapses seek the ways
That allow him to name things
As they are named in the ground q floor.

That mother scrounged that word from the air
Eons ago
The music made the rest
They sang the meanings
Until the mountain said yes
And spread it through the peoples.

What a tremendous oblivion of being apart
And what a tremendous creation to invent it.

As if the cells were recorded,
I search inward the way
To speak that strange language
Perhaps in this life, not in another time.

Nuria Herrera
April 23, 2017

The word “inward” above is a guess: “andetros” in the original text does not seem to be a word in Spanish, but “adentros” is and seems to fit.

Here is a post about her and her facebook page.

Thank you, Nuria! You helped us fall in love with Madrid.

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