Friday, March 26, 2010

Poetry Friday: Missing Bologna

Yesterday was the end of the Children's Book Fair in Bologna. Many have waxed lyrical about the beauties of the place, the bounty of the food, the flowing of the wine, the vaulting of the porticos. So I won't spend too much time on those. What I miss: the hardware store with its smaller-scaled Italian household goods; the candy/jam/grappa shop where I would have bought Easter chocolate; the mermaids; the waiters; the vacuum-packed parmigiano from Tamburini.

But to be honest, what I miss even more is the community. Many is the international dinner where you are seated next to someone whose language you do not share. It's hard to communicate, even if you're doing business in common. So what do you do? If you're very lucky, you're at a dinner where the guests sing or declaim or recite in their own language. Does it matter if you don't understand the words? It does not. What matters is the tone, the sound, the feeling, the surprise.

I hosted a dinner once where, after antipasta and pasta and carne and insalata and dolci and caffe and vino bianco e rosso and of course aqua minerale (gazata o non-gazata), I asked the participants if they would grace us with a little rhyme from their own country. It doesn't take much for Europeans to come up with poetry. We went around the table and we each recited a nursery rhyme. Some of the rhyming patterns were shared, country to country. Mostly we didn't understand the Swedes and Finns, but we all understood that we'd reached deep into ourselves to find first the cadence and then the words of an old rhyme. This was mine:

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.

When we're next in Bologna, what will be yours?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Poetry Friday: Wasn't today the quintessence of Just- spring?

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan whistles
-- E. E. Cummings

(And yes, I'm daring to use the capitals in his name: