sábado, 19 de noviembre de 2016


Marlene Nourbese Philip

Nacida el 3 febrero de 1947 en Trinidad y Tobago, es una poeta canadiense, novelista y ensayista conocida por la experimentación con la forma literaria y por su compromiso con la justicia social.



Thorns (1980)
Salmon Courage (1983)
She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks (1989)
Discourse on the Logic of Language (1989)
Zong! (2008)


Harriet's Daughter (1988)
Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence(1991)


Frontiers: Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture (1992)
Showing Grit: Showboating North of the 44th Parallel (1993)
CARIBANA: African Roots and Continuities - Race, Space and the Poetics of Moving (1996)
Genealogy of Resistance and Other Essays (1997)


Coups and Calypsos (1999)
Harriet's Daughter (2000)


Casa de las Americas prize for the manuscript version of the poetry book, She Tries Her Tongue... 1998
Tradewinds Collective (Trinidad & Tobago) Poetry – 1st prize, 1988 and Short Story – 1st prize, 1988
Canadian Library Association prize for children's literature, runner-up, for Harriet's Daughter - 1989
Max and Greta Abel Award for Multicultural Literature, first runner-up for Harriet's Daughter - 1989
Guggenheim Fellow, in poetry – 1990
McDowell Fellow – 1991
Lawrence Foundation Award for the short story "Stop Frame" published in the journal Prairie Schooner - 1995
Toronto Arts Award in writing and publishing, finalist – 1995
Rebels for a Cause award, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Toronto – 2001
Woman of Distinction award in the Arts, YWCA - 2001
Chalmers Fellowship in Poetry – 2002
Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, Italy - 2005.

El testimonio se inclina ante la Madre Lengua. 


La piedra se lamenta
en su aspecto y forma
por la pérdida
bien afilados
como la sensación de algunos días
en el mismo centro de cada palabra,
los como-si de ayer ocurrieron;
mente y cuerpo concentran


la confusión de siglos que se sucede
mientras la palabra
riza el pelo
achata narices
engorda labios
diseña mandíbulas prognatas
encoge el cerebro
para liberar la promesa
en la fealdad

la ausencia en la imagen.


aquellos que
el más allá de la palidez
donde el sacrilegio del cero
la matemática del corazón,
erigen santuarios de piedra en el común de 


toca lengua con lengua
aquello que está extrañamente atrapado entre
lengua y mejilla y labio


aquel lugar de otra lengua madre

roza con su lengua

la nada
la prisión de estas lenguas emparedadas

jódete puta -hija de puta -
¡ay, ay!

que envuelve
la mente una y 
otra vez


esta lengua que se arraiga
un tirón
la raíz
de cuajo
que yo
una serpiente
de cada uno crece
una cabeza
(Gorgona -
para converir mi lengua en piedra)
una cola
y atormentar la ausencia
que se lamenta
/atormentada en su aspecto y forma...


Oh, pero ¿debo?
las domaré -

a estas serpientes
las alimentaré
con leche
de pechos negros
(las acariciaré mientras maman)
para acallar
las lenguas de seda deslizante
-de plata y hechas trizas-
las palabras cabalgan de nuevo
a través
de noches de yegua.

déjame -
me estiraré
con ellas
las encamaré con silencio
a estas serpientes
las haré sabias
con lo malvado
de las palabras
para engendrar una y otra 

en su crianza
-una camada nueva
-una raza
-una raza guerrera
de las palabras

-un huevo en el nido
que espera
romper el momento
en la espera


habré yo
de golpearme
bajo la lengua y patearlas
-estas palabras
sostenerlas en el aire
una en cada mano
la palabra
que reclama
y mutila
que reivindica
de nuevo

en la boca de mi madre
la lengua del padre
cohabitando extrañamente
en la madre
palabras incestuosas
para vengar el yo

la palabra


Meditaciones sobre la Declinación de la Belleza
por la Muchacha de los Pómulos altos

Si no           Si no           Si
¿Si no en el lenguaje de usted
– en su lenguaje –
entonces, en lo de quién?

Soy yo
Si no en suyo
En lo de quién
En el lenguaje de quién

Soy yo     Soy
Si no en suyo
En lo de quién

Soy yo
(si no en suyo)
Soy suya
En el lenguaje de quién

No soy
No soy,  Soy suya
Si no en suyo
Si no en suyo
En lo de quién
En el lenguaje de quién

La Muchacha de pómulos altos:

Ella es
Yo soy
Mujer del trasero que vuelve locos a los hombres

Y si no en suyo
¿Dónde está la Mujer de nariz ancha
– ancha como su fuerza?

Si no en suyo
En el lenguaje de quién
¿Está el Hombre de labios como la luna llena
Llevando la medianoche de Color
Reventada por las estrellas – una sonrisa?
En lo de quién
En el lenguaje de quién

                              No soy
                              Soy      Soy suya
                              Soy      Soy

Si no en suyo
En lo de quién

En el lenguaje de quién

Si no en suyo

Translation from English into Spanish: Alexander Best

Meditations on the Declension of Beauty
by the Girl with the Flying Cheek-bones

If not     If not     If
If not in yours
              In whose

In whose language
Am I
If not in yours
              In whose

In whose language
Am  I      I am
              If not in yours

In whose
  Am I

(if not in yours)
  I am yours

In whose language
                        Am I not

Am I not     I am yours
If not in yours
If not in yours
               In whose

In whose language
                      Am I …

Girl with the flying cheek-bones:
She is

I am
Woman with the behind that drives men mad
And if not in yours
Where is the woman with a nose broad
As her strength

If not in yours
In whose language
Is the man with the full-moon lips
Carrying the midnight of colour
Split by the stars – a smile

If not in yours
          In whose

In whose language
                        Am I
                        Am I not
                        Am I      I am yours
                        Am I not         I am yours
                        Am I   I am

If not in yours
In whose

In whose language
 Am I

If not in yours

Thorns is NourbeSe Philip’s first book of poetry published in 1980 by Williams Wallace Inc. Stratford. It is now out of print but photocopies may be obtained from the author.

Nostalgia ’64

Liming by de street corner
dressed to kill
from stingy brimmed hat
to pointy toe shoes,
Limacoled wit de freshness
of a breeze in a bot
checking out de girls dem
cruising by
“buh how yuh look sweet so”
talking bout de latest caiso
who’s a jackabat
an’ who not,
liming by de Street corner
dressed to kill. 

All That Remains Of Kush Returns 
To The Desert

When I return
would you remember me
child face set against you
to me through suffering
secret and sombre?

Return I will
woed skinned with grief
for those thousand nights shall be
as one
stranger shadowed in stranded struggles of what was
to be to
speak in different tongues of ignorance forget scattered words
shattering trees of truth on shoals of silence. 

….You were silence.
Where were your talking drums
to message my soul
before they twisted it
before they broke it
before they sold it for twelve cowrie shells before we learnt too much
too soon
too late?

when I return rough shod
take me
one of your many daughters
carrying lost tribes of suffering
welcome me
gently I carry tiny thorns of Africa within
and all that remains of Kush returns
to the desert.

Salmon Courage is NourbeSe Philip’s second book of poetry published in 1983 by Williams Wallace Inc. Stratford. It is now out of print but photocopies my be obtained from the author.


If no one listens and cries
is it still poetry
if no one sings the note between the silences
if the voice doesn't founder on the edge of the air
is it still music
if there is no one to hear
is it love
or does the sea always roar
in the shell at the ear?

St. Clair Avenue West

The bolt of fabric lay between us
covered in dust,
‘Burnt Sienna’, the price tag read,
seven dollars per yard
(he hadn’t gone metric yet).
“I want enough to cover one chair –
this chair here”.

The grimy light shafted us
spotlit dust
danced in particles.
He held up the shears
began to cut –
I stared
(believed for the first though I knew all along),
the blue veins,
the numbered wrist.

“It’s a nice chair . . .
Yes, I could do a good job for you.
And how soon would you want it?”
Careful you measured the chair,
“In two weeks time”
I looked behind, a latter day Janus,
saw them put down the whips, take up the guns.
“You can have it before”.
I looked ahead,
they turned off the ovens, and set up the homelands.
“And how much would it cost?”
I was thinking to trade
one Roots for a Holocaust.

He measured the cloth
sending up clouds of dust,
“That’s enough now
– three yards.”
I had given ‘It’ a name –
silent you shook your head, mouthed,
while they called it Ratings;

“Fifty dollars should do it all.”

Infinitives of silence held us apart:
to have
to understand
me, you, or the mathematics of it all
(you hadn’t gone metric yet anyway).
New math they called it,
and we were the B.C.D.’s – Basic Common Denominators –
silence divided by time,
one oppression by two realities;
the only remainder, one scrawny wrist
tattooed blue with numbers,
and branded memories that balk at talk.

Salmon Courage

But I will be salmon.
Wasn’t it for this he made the journey
downstream, my salmon father?
Why then do I insist on swimming
against the tide, upstream,
leaping, jumping, flying, floating,
hurling myself at, under, over,
around all obstacles, backwards
in time to the spawning
grounds of knotted dreams?
My scales shed, I am Admiral red,
but he, my salmon father, will not
accept that I too am salmon,
whose fate it is to swim against the tide,
whose loadstar is to be salmon.


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