Fukushima-shi, Fukushima, 2011 © Katsumi Omori/Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen
I use what I love, and this can be anything. Cavalcanti, Dante, Frost, anybody. My library is terribly disordered and disorganized; I tear out what I want. I don’t think that a writer has any responsibility to view literature as a continuous process. I believe that very little of literature is immortal. I’ve known books in my lifetime to serve beautifully, and then to lose their usefulness, perhaps briefly.
How do you “use” these books … and what is it that makes them lose their “usefulness”?
My sense of “using” a book is the excitement of finding myself at the receiving end of our most intimate and acute means of communication. These infatuations are sometimes passing.
Nobody | Nicanor Parra (translated by Miller Williams)
I can’t get to sleep
Someone is making the curtains move.
I get up. There’s nobody there.
Probably the moonlight.
Tomorrow I have to get up early
And I can’t get to sleep:
I have the feeling someone’s knocking at the door.
I get up again.
I throw it wide open:
The air hits me full in the face.
But the street is completely empty.
All I can see are rows of poplars
Swaying in the wind’s rhythm.
This time I’ve got to stay asleep
I gulp the last drop of wine
Still glittering in the glass.
I straighten the sheets
I give a last glance at the clock
But I hear the sobs of a woman
Just as I close my eyes.
This time I’m not going to get up.
I’m exhausted from so much sobbing.
Now all the noise stops.
I hear only the waves of the sea
As if they were the steps of someone
Who comes toward our dilapidated cottage
And never stops coming.
from Poems and Antipoems, 1967
W.C. Fields and Groucho Marx.