On Poetry and Culture Shock

Iker Garai

Somebody lent me Botikin ("First Aid Kit") a poetry book by Iker Garai; I was curious about whether this young poet from northern Spain had any similarities with the young poets that I know, mostly from the South. Let’s see. He’s not Neoromantic or confessional/intimate. He is Neosurreal, and writes erotic poetry. Two out of four. Of course, free verse is his metre of choice, but that is so frequent that it can hardly be considered a characteristic of the major trend of Spanish young poets: Lyrical Neosurrealism.

I don’t like Neosurrealism in poetry because I find it unnecessarily hard to understand. I don’t get it, the same way that some people don’t like broccoli or Korean movies. And I rarely like political poetry because it is too easy to let the message defeat the artistic expression. One of Iker's political poems makes clear that his political views and mine couldn’t be more different, but I still like the poem because the rhythm is good. There is another poem I agree with, but I dislike the poem itself because I think it’s unoriginal.

I've picked two poems from the compilation, probably the two erotic/love ones with less surrealism. Word of warning: Iker is from a part of Spain where people are bilingual in Spanish and Basque. Basque writes the sounds in "Cat" and "quick" always with a K and Iker adds that to his Spanish spelling. The effect is of someone writing nevah, evah, strongah instead of never, ever, stronger. And also: in Spanish, "hippie" is a dress code: hippie girls (or women) are amazingly fashion-conscious, often snob and the assumption is that they are politically progressive.


allí estaba ella
con sus brazos cruzados
sobre sus trozos de barro
en otra noche de taberna

estaba como puesta
entre los demás,
pensando más allá
de ser diferente.

es ke ella no corre,
se arrastra,
no ríe,
se lo guarda, lo engulle,
y casi nunca lo habla;
y al final,
entre risas y vasos
de la calle en mitad,
lo llora a balazos,
ella sola.

y yo soy el espectador lunático
sentado a ras de suelo,
en pleno teatro escenario
jugando a no ser yo.


there she was
with arms crossed
over her chunks of clay
on another bar night

she seemed alone
in the crowd
thinking beyond
being different

The thing is that she doesn’t run,
she crawls,
she doesn’t laugh,
she keeps it in, she gulps it;
and eventually
among laughs and glasses
in the cleft street,
she weeps shooting bullets,
by herself.

And I am the lunatic in the audience
sitting close to the ground
right in the theatre
playing at not being myself.

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