I am not usually a great fan of contemporary poetry, but here’s a pretty nice poem by American poet Christine E. Black about living under lockdown. Republished from here.

Ragamuffins in Lockdown Time

I want to be the child
In my neighborhood,
Kicking a ball down a wet street,
Dirty snow and ice crusting cars,
Paint-chipped wagon
And a pile of bikes in the yard,
His little brother
And a gang of more children,
Trailing behind. One bangs a stick
On the ground, all their clear
Brown faces shine, eyes dance
In the cold. His immune system
Wrestles earnestly, playfully
With wondrous germs of the air,
And on the skin of his little brother,
In the slobber of the dog,
The grime on the ball
From the corner of the basement
Next to the crumple
Of his father’s work clothes,
His mother’s nurse’s aide uniform,
Blood splattered on a sleeve.

I want to be their parents,
Gathering at a neighbor’s house
For Holy Communion.
They made a hand-lettered
Church sign for the yard,
Invited the priest to hold Mass
In the living room
For all the neighbors.
And after taking the body and blood,
Those words made flesh
By breath and speech,
I kiss an old aunt, press my cheek
To hers, smell her hair and skin,
Remembered from childhood.
My breath deepens, quiets the cells,
Bathes them in strength and health.

I want to be one of the Boys and Girls
Club children, still driven
To the closed school
Because her mother has to go work
At the chicken factory each day.
The mask they make the girl wear
Drags her chin while she plays
With twenty or so other children
In the abandoned school gym
Or outside behind the vacant building.
She sits in the grass across from a friend,
Clapping patterns, telling stories,
Their caretaker, reading her phone.

I want to be one of the children,
Following behind their father,
Who can’t have them inside
One more day this winter, playing
Video games, watching TV.
They head into the trampoline park,
Dark for months, but now somehow
Open, a few cars in the lot.
Inside, high school and college students,
Who have to have the job
Are face-masked seven or eight hours,
Like all the others, delivering Dominoes
Or Grub Hub, waiting tables
In half-capacity restaurants,
Stocking Walmart shelves, scanning,
Bagging at grocery stores, their glasses
Fogging, acne worsening, minds dulled
From low oxygen, wondering what
In the world may happen next.

I want to be a child piled in the family car,
Driving narrow, steep West Virginia roads
To a mountain cabin, where they’ll meet
Maybe a dozen or more family and friends.
Some will forage for mushrooms
Or bow hunt, they’ll tell stories,
Wade in cold streams, build a fire
To cook meat at dusk. I want to be
One of their parents in a sleeping bag
With my husband, by the fire
After everyone else has gone to bed.

The first number of our magazine is now in its print version, in very limited number, but high quality. With A4 size, 250g glossy paper, and full-quality colour images, it is really a sight to behold.

The magazine can be purchased in our shop, or read in the online version.

It contains short stories and poems in different languages (all translated to English), plus illustrations and photographs by several very talented artists.

Art and literature – to combine them in a beautiful way was the idea behind this project. I hope you like it and read the magazine, be it in print or online (we recommend print – it’s always nicer to read in print).

A few days ago (August 24th) marked 121 years since the birth of Jorge Luis Borges. I am currently researching a bit about his life, as one of my future projects would be to write a new book about Argentinean literature.

Of course, a lot has been written about Borges, and I’ve read a lot of it. My father is a great fan of Borges and we had all his books at home, plus many other books about him.

And yet, there are always some new things that you can discover about someone, especially in the case of a writer of such importance. One of the things I didn’t know so much about was the period of his youth and the several literary projects during his early 20s, which included a mural magazine called Prisma.

I am also rereading quite a lot of his work. Not only the short stories, but also some essays (although of course, for Borges there is not always a difference between both).

It is always better to read him in Spanish, if you can understand the language, but if not, there are quite a few translations to choose from. Which one is the best? It’s difficult to say. I prefer the earliest ones, but here there’s a more detailed article describing some of the differences in each version, as well as a discussion of Borges’ work with Norman Di Giovanni, the only translator with whom he directly collaborated.

Here there’s one of his last interviews, the day of his 85th birthday, still in Argentina (he would die less than two years later, in Geneva). He seems pretty cheerful.