Carlos Angulo Rivas reading from his poetry collection at the June 1, 2013 gathering

Photo by Lori D. Nolasco, amateur photographer and multilingual poet

In a post from early June, I wrote a poem castigating a young woman I called “Dorothy.” I had referred to her as “Alice” in yet another artistic rant. The color yellow was a predominant theme as I compared her to the Narcissus flower, sneered at her “jaundiced” perspective, and told her quite bluntly that she was headed down her own, twisted Yellow Brick Road.

Carlos Angulo Rivas, a Peruvian poet (the one pictured to the far right in the June 3 entry “A House Full of Poets”) writes of a world that is foreign to me. His poetic landscape is peopled by dictators and plagued by oppression and even torture. So strongly did he believe in his ideals that a fierce opponent tried to take his life in 1987, the year I was hiding from imaginary foes in a room on the sixth floor of an old building in Paris, France. I was all of 21 years old. What did I know about real danger for standing up for one’s convictions? 

Carlos did not simply decide to pack his bags and leave for Canada because he felt like it. He was forced to go. Having never experienced it, I will never learn the profound meaning of the word “exile.” The more I think of it, I was far more self-absorbed than the twentysomething woman I have dubbed “Dorothy” or “Alice.”

In my feeble attempt to comprehend the poetry of Carlos Angulo Rivas, I am reading his bilingual collection, Words for the Wind to Carry/Palabras que el viento ha de llevar. Here are the first two stanzas of his poem that opens the collection, “The Yellow Cuculí” (a kind of pigeon)

Are you?

the yellow cuculí

the tender emblem of the river’s song

Are you?

who sings behind the forest’s line

with your dangerously wounded voice?

Are you?

who at noon proclaims life

the heart lost

in the waterfall of birth and death?

Spanish version:

¿Eres tu?

el cuculí amarillo

tierno escudo de los cantos del río

¿eres tu?

quien canta 

detras del bosque con tu voz malherida

¿eres tu?

a las doce del día cuando anuncias la vida

¿eres tu?

corazón perdido

en la cascada de nacer y morir