The Prologue by Meri Torras for the natural Orlando. Roadmap.

[É]crire, c'est une sorte faculté qu'on a à côté de sa personne, parallèlement à ellemême, d'une autre personne qui appareil et qui avance, invisible, gifted de pensée, de colère, et qui sometimes, of his own accord, he is in danger of losing his life.
        Marguerite Duras, to write

of course, this collection of poems does not need a prologue. Everything I can write as a preface constitutes a contingent text that may not be read, perhaps should not be read. It is difficult. Now is the point to abandon these pages and go straight to the gut, skip even the index, and dare to read something like this.
Writing, the unknown and you

In Orlando natural it does not need a preamble because, at the outset, the first reading key comes to us on the cover, with a title (to which we will have to return) and with the name of its author, Mireia Vidal-Conte: a call which involves the recognized poetic trajectory of someone who, without respite, bets again and again for literature and writes, the same and different, in each of his books a, with, versus, from of, for, seconds, about... the literary tradition, its own and appropriate (which is already its own). In the paratexts that accompany the volume, you can find information about his biographical data (year and place of birth, academic training...), the list of published works and the awards received.

All of this is relevant, no doubt, but in Mireia Vidal-Conte you will find her in the voice that crosses her verses, her corpus poetic: to touch and be touched by poetry is to know it. There is no other way than this transit.


In addition, the second reason - and this is already particular to the poem we are dealing with - for which Orlando natural it does not need (this) prologue because it has built itself naturally of a portico that comes to be the warning, almost Dantesque, of entry into the infernal blessing of writing. Indeed, the book opens with four poems numbered in Roman numerals which, in fact, make up one, and become a poetics, in the sense mentioned above. I will entertain them, then, because they grant, in my opinion, a useful reading parameter to delve into the poetry collection. power write something about it, as will happen many times with other verses in the volume, becomes a kind of litany present in each of the four poems and breaks the relationship, the unity.

To be able to write something about it / if that were thing if that were to write if that were to be able, the third poem tells us. Thus, it establishes the difficulty of writing and leads us to the incontestable question: what is it this what drives the lyrical self to write? this it is not, but it will be: it will be theOrlando natural once we have (re)written it, because reading is a way of writing and writing a way of reading and both, as we will see later, ways of translating, of transforming. Thus, and in a statement close to Marguerite Duras, we learn from the outset that writing is the unknown: "Si on saviat quelque chose de ce qu on va écrire, avant de le faire, avant d'écrire, on n écrirait jamais. […] Writing, c’est tenter de savoir ce qu’on écrirait si l’on écrivait – on ne le sait qu après – avant, c’est la most dangerouse que l’on peut se poser.”

And what do the first four attempts to tell us about this unknown territory be able to write something about it? They dare us that there must be a time and an oblivion, a deposit time that - like the Ferraterian well - accumulates, stores, perhaps invisible, the material that must later allow the bonds, the bonds to be established, and thus enables, in the end , the fictional narrative of being or becoming.

of mud and ponds are made
the iron bridges of the links (I)

There is also the time of opportunity, during which the memory still serves, with the precise degree of oblivion that must propitiate the disfiguration of the writing, the experience or the sensation of thethis unknown: now that I still haven't been able to decimate any gestures (II). Therefore, the threat lies not so much in forgetfulness but in the indifference of those who will not dare to cross the text and, going along the margins, will marginalize it:

I know that from the arena of the margins
take shortcuts (II)

A third person plural that is not me, nor is it us—you and me—because in the fourth poem one breaks in you that will cross the whole poem. one you which is the other but is not part of this third person plural. one you —who?—that has no name or has more than one or that even, as you of me, of us, can be a splitting of the poetic self, but that—whoever it is—is the one who gives the 'excuse the voice that constitutes Orlando natural:

be able to write something about it
if it's better not to be not to know I don't know
I guess bricks full of literary comparison
syllabic doubts like restraint (IV)

In this way, and from the very beginning, Orlando natural debates the impossibility of saying through writing, accepts the challenge (power) unattainable to establish direct links between the words (write something) and things (about this), although he knows that words will displace everything, even the ultimate sense, but there is one you who deserves it and maybe demands it or just does it. The poem book will come out of everything, this, which will no longer be this but the only way this can be.


A journey through the limits of language: new weather and maps

The poem, therefore, is an invitation to travel through an area of (identity) transformations that—in literature and through literature—happen naturally, as happens in the novel Orlando, by Virginia Woolf, published in 1928. Along with the English writer, Mireia Vidal-Conte will summon several accomplices. One of the verses in the poetry collection - "To all of me by Virginia Woolf and Christina Rossetti" - indicates, therefore, the nineteenth-century poet, also from London... and we will return to Christina Rossetti later. The third in line: the Catalan poet Felícia Fuster. There is a too shameful oblivion of Fuster's work and it is a personal reason for me to celebrate the vindictive dialogue made by Vidal-Conte: a reading that demonstrates the actuality of Fuster's poetry, of (among other things ) his conception-construction of a post-metaphysical identity, marked by gender.

Apart from the verses that Vidal-Conte chooses as the book's opening key: "Now / don't ask me what name I call", I would add as the leitmotif of theOrlando natural one of the verses that Vidal-Conte quotes as the epigraph of a poem: “It's always carnival, remember? / The costumes…”. Fortunately, just a few months ago, Lluïsa Julià (and Proa editions) have made available to us the complete work of Felícia Fuster, a magnificent volume that I hope will remove Fuster's work from ignorance once and for all and contribute to the recognition it is due

And the Catalan poet Rosina Ballester should be added to this list of literary accomplices. He quotes verses from her as an epigraph and dedicates a poem to her. In addition, he addresses "The mirror ofOrlando natural” the poem where, in fact, the whole book is mirrored (since it appears in italics in the title) and one discovers something else. A composition that significantly occupies more or less the center of the collection and marks one of the possible inflections of the volume.


The poetry you sew Orlando natural it remains behind the glass and makes it clear that there is no reflection without transformation. If words are not the things and writing reality is not possible, literature - also poetry - is fiction (which doesn't mean lie), rather figuration i re-presentation. Writing (and reading) teases us and speculates; it silvers the crystal in every line, in every attempt to say that it is not possible to say but with repetition that words necessarily are and that, nevertheless, as repetition they create space for difference and for similarity, ultimately , confer the possibility of movement, of becoming. The task of writing lies in trying to say one thing with what necessarily says another: alterity and transformation will always invade writing because they are its very condition of possibility. Without being able to entertain myself as much as it deserves, I would like to transcribe one of the poems ofOrlando natural which is constituted through this tension and which I want to use to point out some particularities of the voice that sustains the poem.

not everything can be said
it's not exactly
exact photocopy of arduous complexity is difficult

you've got!

figuratively empty language if nothing else
emotive puddles quicksand leaf litter
sunken hips mismatched hands
crutches never original words if the other language remains blocked

you've got!

Sensational sketches never real grooves
you have prayers left
not a single renace that distorts tension

Apart from the reference to the language and the words that I have already mentioned, I want to start by underlining what seems to me to be a great discovery of the poem: the identification by homophony and homography of the adjective you've got (stretched out) with the you've got of the second person of the verb have. Whoever writes only has this tension and the poem embodies it, embodies it, wonderfully. In addition, it bears witness to how the poetic voice takes syntax to its limit and, therefore, with it, the process of signification, through a series of operations. Firstly, the disappearance of punctuation marks and capital letters, which make it impossible to know when a sentence or unit of meaning begins or ends. Secondly, the use of resources such as overlaps that again multiply the possibilities of making sense and make it difficult to attribute a syntactic function to the phrases. In this line, thirdly, linguistic pieces are often juxtaposed without hierarchy or case subordination, so it is the responsibility (necessity?) of the reader to articulate a sense from the detached, isolated meaning, but at the same time in contrast to the surrounding meanings. The last lines of the poem are a very clear example of this.
None of these resources are unique to this text and all appear frequently in Orlando natural. Cohesion or the formation of meanings would drink above all from repetition, the fundamental constitutive engine of the book, at various levels. We find rhythmic and phonetic repetitions (alliterations such as those that make up the poem that begins with the verse "each and every one of my unique memories"), but syntactic parallelisms are very frequent in the structuring of the verses and , above all, the repetition and repetition of words or expressions. In order not to prolong myself, I refer to the four initial poems, which show this amply.

"Translating your face and flesh": "I am Christina Rossetti"

This recursion doesn't stop there. Before continuing and making a foray down the paths of intertextuality—or precisely to start it—I want to refer to an anecdote that, in turn, Virginia Woolf recalls in the article she writes in The Common Reader, on the occasion of the centenary of Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), on December 5, 1930 and entitled "I am Christina Rossetti". Woolf's choice of the title is already remarkable: although - as we shall see - the phrase belongs to the anecdotal episode, heading one's own writing with this resounding affirmation marks Woolf's clear identification with the poet who precedes it. one of the me of Woolf, then, is Rossetti.


The event recounted by the author of Orlando includes the fact that, during a private party organized at Mrs. Virtue Tebbs, it seems (for it is not known for certain what exactly happened) the conversation drifted frivolously into a mockery, attack, or denigration of poetry. At least it must have seemed to a petite woman, dressed in black, who stood up suddenly, walked to the beautiful center of the room, to solemnly affirm, "I am Christina Rossetti," and, having uttering these words to the audience, he retraced his steps and sat down again in his chair.

To Woolf's admiration for Rossetti is added Vidal-Conte's recognition of both, which is Natural Orlando. That's why, in the poetry collection, like Woolf's character, they concentrate on it whether or not it is three centuries ago. theorlandism - so to speak - it is linked to the inheritance of a genealogy that transforms but survives or, better, survives transforming; a genealogy of women writers (Rossetti, Woolf, Fuster, Ballester, Vidal-Conte... and others) who at one point or another had to stand up and say who they were and what they did (each in her own way). The names vary but the desire is the same: to write.

In a poem in the collection, with an emblematic Woolfian title, and with an ironic tone (as in fact has the essay from 1929) the poetic voice refers to it thus (you must see the change of spelling of nineteenth-century crossbow for crossbow and the final stirrup):

A room of one's own
Mrs. Ballesté's room

for this space the poet will take

maddened june camellias

they don't take her out of the house or make fun of her, it's not clear

writing at nineteen was a beast madam

whether or not it does the same thing as the twenty one thank you

And it is that in the room of the century xxi, from the home of the Balearic poet from Les Borges del Camp, more specifically in the kitchen and surrounded by "divine" cats (and perhaps a little muses), Mireia Vidal-Conte and Rosina Ballester dedicated themselves to translating Christina Rossetti. In the poetry collection, this appears explicitly in the title "Translating Christina Rosetti" and, implicitly, in several textual places:

I said the road to redemption is possible

I stepped on streams and olive trees

I sat in the translation chair

I leafed through your father's dictionary and understood the divinity aanimal

i suspected the sunken ceilings could support a new one
international movement

I became the reincarnation of Christina Rossetti

However, a Orlando natural, the operation of translating goes beyond the act of translating Rossetti into another language and embraces, in its entirety, Vidal-Conte's poetic work. The poetry collection can be read as a process of translation the other (i to translate to the other), one - literally - pretending to be, transported, through writing, which is always intertextually, as a mosaic of quotations (Kristeva, said).

Thus, for example, on the one hand we find the literary intertexts among which, in addition to those mentioned, we could recognize from nineteenth-century Anglophone poets (such as tread softly, by WB Yeats, in "Fins on vêtes trepitjar"), to young Catalan poets (like the poetics of the body, from Mireia Calafell's eponymous poem collection), going through fundamental literary works in contemporary Catalan poetry, such as Màrius Sampere or Gabriel Ferrater (to name two names that I think can be traced).


On the other hand, Orlando natural it contains a remarkable dialogue with music, through poems that are written musically (like "Partitura") or debts with songs. The text explicitly points to some of them. The Uruguayan Martín Buscaglia lends him a verse, and Robbie Williams' theme, "Love Supreme", is incorporated into a poem in several ways: with the revealing epigraph, but also by translating verses from it. There is an implicit reference that will gain prominence in the constant repetition of it is difficult, which refers to the song "Dos locos", by Complices.

Two crazy people are on the loose
Two crazy people are on the loose
Two crazy people are on the loose
It's hard to talk to a crazy person

In Orlando natural will be rewritten, from the quotes maddened june camellias, in feminine plural:

two crazy people are on the loose

two crazy people are on the loose

they write like crazy it's difficult

they say

that pursue a poem

as if they had lost

like two crazy people walking loose

two crazy people are on the loose

the trail of the only daughter


they are loose

two crazy people are on the loose

Poeman como locas is difficult

they say

in the fictitious limit

del borde ese mismo of the poem

[...]

It is difficult. The realization will reappear forcefully and constantly, especially in the central part of the poem, and will sprinkle it incessantly until the end. Then fatigue will set in and the voice will fall silent. If something crosses Orlando natural  it is the inescapable acknowledgment of the difficulty—impossibility?—of writing or of life, when they have already become indestructible, as both demand—demand?…impose?—transition, transformation, hybridity , since deep down - as Ferrater wrote - the body remembers. Hence perhaps the naturalness of the title, as a sign of when writing takes place inescapably despite its impossibility and becomes like life itself, passing through a body, naturally.

Meri Torres


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