Monthly Archives: January 2014


 I prefer Buenos Aires to the Netherlands. I can parrot Wislawa Zymborska’s poem, I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.


I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

By Wislawa Szymborska”


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news updata Collaboration with film and visual artist Atousa Bandeh GhiaShabadi, her exhibition opening in Amsterdam

The painter and filmmaker Atousa Bandeh, from Shiraz and currently based in Amsterdam, will use two of my poems in her new short film Exile Triptych.  Her film will have its first screening at the opening night of her art exhibition of paintings and drawings at the Lumen Travo art gallery in Amsterdam. Her feature film Day I Disappeared won an award at Rotterdam Film Festival in 2011.

The exhibition opening tomorrow is titled Dynamism of the Dream. Flyer text of the exhibition *By Arturo Desimone:

Dynamism of the Dream

For her first show at Lumen Travo, artist and filmmaker, Atousa Bandeh presents a series of drawings and videos

“In recent years the visual artist and filmmaker Atousa Bandeh has created an impressive series of drawings, both in large and small sizes. Drawing, she says, is direct and intimate.
Pencil and inkpen are far different tools than the films that established her reputation, like prizewinning The Day I Disappeared.

But the importance of narrative, depiction of stories, the innate incentive to imagining pictures and images, surface in a similar way.

In her drawings she shares the wealth of her vulnerability with the viewer, that is to say, with those viewers who are attentive to poetry.
A certain antenna is needed to grasp the symbols and references of these lively and attractive compositions.
Atousa came of age during the Iranian revolution, she saw the hopes and catastrophic betrayal of a cause. She left Iran at the age of 19 and now lives and works in Amsterdam, often returning to her native Shiraz. “Because political dialectics wrested themselves into all aspects of my life, I have always resisted the pressures here to conveniently politicize my art simply because I am Iranian, to be at once victim and indignant. There is a friction in me, a preference for dreams and my memories. Yet everything, anywhere, life reality, personal symbols, are also political, it is effortless, inescapable” In several works the central figure is surrounded by symbolic elements which by way of their repetition create a movement in Bandeh’s visual work.
Subverting what would otherwise be mere decorative elements surrounding her characters, Bandeh uses the repetition of unsettling symbols that in their repitition and structure sometimes play with the patterns in Islamic art history. These repetitions and patterns serve a hypnotic, mystical function, psychological and political at once, evading all lightness while using light and shadow. The paintings can move between the remembered innonence girlhood’s coming of age, to a forensic map of living ruins.
Her native Shiraz is near ruins that are beloved to Persians. These and a more personal map of ruins are a setting for the play with dreams, imagos, phantoms.
Italian Renaissance has always been one source of stimulus for Atousa Bandeh; indeed we may discern a Madonna-like composition (both in the art and in the artist, a mother whose small children appear as well in her drawings and paintings.) While the drawings abound with connections to the major themes of an Iranian history and culture, the preeminent aspect is that of personal stories.
“My art and drawings have a lot to do with the force of dreams and memories, how memories color your state and perceptions of the world despite the world’s being ever-changing, The dynamism of the dream”
Atousa Bandeh lets her soul crawl into every aspect her work and into the corners of rooms she has painted. She enjoys an artistic freedom that flows over into a realm of considerable output. This unleashed freedom is witnessed also in a material sense, with collaged ricepaper, coloring, hatching and supplies that contribute to an inviting dynamism of the dream.


Lijnbaansgracht 314
1017WZ Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0) 20 6270 883

Wed. – Sat. 13:00 – 18:00
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(video sample of 2011 film “Day I Disappeared”)

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a spectacle (note for a future memoir)

on a beach in Aruba, a mother turtle’s nest had burst from the cool wet earth, the small animals like wind-up toys propelled along their dark rotor fins into the wave. I stood to see it, it was difficult to find the impressive nature I longed for on the small desert island. Neighboring Venezuela with its Amazon jungle and Orinoco river would have done better, but I knew at 14 I wanted to be and needed to be a poet, and that a poet has to observe nature. Tourists marveled and took pictures with cameras large as their brains, obsidian boxes that relaxed their memories forever, memory was once a muscular faculty. An American man, with maybe a Chicago or New York Italian accent, older with a gray head but muscular under his gray hair and gold necklaces that shone in the faint sun, stood with his daughters to make sure they saw this wondrous procession, the little caravan of shell-reptiles into the water, leaving the island forever. Some foreigners, mostly conscientious Dutch expats, stood in a circle wearing shirts declaring themselves soldiers of Dana, environmentalist protectors, who sat a vigil up at night to prevent the Arubians, the natives from breaking into the nests to steal eggs for their soups. The women stood with crossed arms forming an octagon around the birthplace, the assumption of the little shell-bearers to the sea, their hair brittle from swimming in sea-water but still blonde blew, their faces smiled slightly at the corners at seeing the hatching new life; their beach skirts twisted in the wing like lost kites. Someone announced there were crushed eggs, some of the seaturtles had been killed by the weight of bare feet, luckily none of the new special, paralegal units of Arubian anti-immigrant police had rode by on their whirring All Terrain quad Vehicles policing for the arrivals of immigrants at night, in their neo-police pink uniforms showing muscular brown arms as they sped their four-wheeled heavy motorcycles across the sand. These cops patrolled because the beach lured trespassers, who  instead of departing into the waves at day, came floating and swimming in across the black roiling sea at night, after the unmaternal speedboat of the smuggler fisher dropped them with their land-clothes and Bogota-leather luggage in the sea. They would swim ashore to this Aruba, Aztlan, mythical island where the majority of the population were Latinos who spoke a magic rythm-patois like the one in San Andres and Palenque but who had Dutch passports, wearing them luminous like velvet tongues in their pockets, under their necklaces. The newcomers from the mainland also wanted to acquire the velvet of the Kingdom document. Some of them drowned, either unable to swim and not having expected this skill was necessary in migration, or because they did not have time to take off their shoes, clothes, remaining jewels, or their suitcases did not float. Do the smugglers warn to travel lightly? Do the mother sea turtles whisper this to their future hatchlings under the cool sand that nourishes with the moonlight that penetrates through? Do old Dutch crones, lesbians and vegans whisper advice and caress the sand under which the children they will midwive dream of another, better Aztlan destiny?

Some hotel-goers made sad choral moans at seeing the aborted turtle-eggs. The Dago tourist noticed his daughters nearing the radial circle of danger where they might find out or see the scene of where the egg-ceilings had caved in on the unborn turtles. “They don’t need to see that” he shouted. His hands, immense hands with rings pushed gently at his beautiful daughters shoulders, which seemed to have soft little blue and pink phosphorescent feather-down stuffed under their soft, tanned, sea-water purified skin, his hardworker-ethic hands guiding them away so softly they’d think they were animated by their own will in footsteps, away from seeing suffering. His daughters did not need to see or know that there is death, they were already 13 years old. I wanted closeness, contact with them in the water, in the sea air.

There had been an attempt to create a new world without death or risks of mortality. Not by the scientists in their nanotech firms from popular science magazine, but by middle class parents.

How could he try to falsify the world for his children? To make them believe there is no death, no separations? He had seen some of it, I knew this. The girls in their pink and blue swim shorts tight against their 13 year old skin, their black hair wet against their backs, they had been sitting in the sand and their asses where not covered by swimsuit nylon were sand-speckled. Their toes were at the edge of the rim of the loosened nest that had given birth, a lair with hatched empty eggs.
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excerpt memoirist beach scene by Arturo Desimone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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If I think a lot about my drawings I think they show a rejection of the political reality of my surroundings and they attack the system of alienation that expands its volume over many areas of life and the daily social political realm. The rejection of the dominant alienation should be what poets and visual artists usually do, but in this era the cultural logic is the opposite; instead of an escape from or attack on alienation, there are artists making a tongue-in-cheek commentary—there is a reluctant celebration of the irony of having to surrender to the forces of alienation, consumerism. I believe to have rejected this logic.


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January 7, 2014 · 6:23 pm

I will not pay reading fees because

A it is the reduction of literature into an online casino or stock market trading floor, 
B it is absurd; 
C an online magazine that has ”non-profit organization” in its disclaimer should not be a business, though most humanitarian enterprises are precisely this; 
D I cannot afford it
E no literary agent requests a ‘reading fee,’
F all of the above stamped by subangelic bureaucracies and written in the blood-amethyst of Aztec genital mutilations


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