Tag Archives: Phoebe Sparrow Wagner

Poème en Français (and translated)

I have not shared here how utterly in love with the French language I  have become. Last July, and I do not even remember exactly what happened but something did…last July I fell head over heels in love with French and all things Français. Like my other full blown long-term passions — field botany was the first, then poetry, then ——, then art, and now French — the transformation from someone who a few minutes before had no use for whatever it was — French in this case — into someone wildly passionate and devoted to the object of her desires happened in the space of moments. It was as usual truly like a religious “conversion experience”, no other expression adequately expresses this sort of Road to Damascus lightning strike experience. One minute I was just going along, doing art of course, and passionate about it, but having zilch interest in French…then with a nearly audible WHOMP! everything changes, as it changed last July and I literally transformed from someone who was at best lukewarm towards French, and France, to someone passionately in love!

 

i will write more about such experiences another time. (And never fear, my passion for art remains. ) but for now I wanted to share this poem, originally written in English for my book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, but which last night I was moved to try to translate. If you perhaps are francophone and even a native speaker, I would LOVE any criticism or critique you might provide for how the French actually sounds to someone who knows it well.

 

Be that as it may, the translation in English, that is to say, the original version, is also below.

 

AU LECTEUR

qui pourrait être assis, comme moi,

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main

regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière au dehors du restaurant,

livre sur les genoux, le mien j’espérerais,

le seul livre que je dois évoquer

si j’évoque aucun livre dans un poème,

au lecteur, le méticuleux,

qui pourrait être se demandant pourquoi

sur la page 47 il y a deux « et »

l’un après l’autre, et à qui est la faute,

et au lecteur qui est peut-être fatigué

après un long trajet en bus chez lui

après un repas qui ne valait rien,

un lecteur qui ramasse mon livre, mais s’endort

avant de l’ouvrir, à tous je dis : Pardonnez-moi

je ne suis qu’une écrivaine, assise

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main,

je ne peux pas expliquer ces deux « et »

ni le lampadaire mystérieux

ni réchauffer les pieds d’un lecteur fatigué

dans son lit. Je ne peux que mettre la musique

et raconter histoires

pour que des films tournent dans la tête,

pour le réveiller avec la compréhension soudaine

que c’est la poésie qui peut faire achever la vie,

eh bien, il peut faire achever ma vie au moins,

et peut être la sienne, et peut-être la vie

d’un méticuleux, et votre vie aussi,

tous ici assis, regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière,

là où ce qui se passe si mystérieusement

est de la poésie –

et la nuit entière est enveloppée

dans les mots dits par deux étrangers

qui là se rencontrent,

ou peut-être les mots non-dits,

ce qui est de la poésie aussi,

et tous qui écoutent, nous attendons

la musique de ce qui se passera.

—————————-

 

TO THE reader

who may be sitting as I am

in a green recliner with a cup of tea

staring out through the porch

to a darkened streetlamp outside the diner,

with a book in her lap, mine, I hope

the only one I feel I should have to mention

if I mention a book in a poem I write;

to the reader, the nitpicker, the one

who may be wondering why

on p. 47 there are two ands, one

right after another, and whose fault that is;

and to the reader, who may be tired

after a long ride home on the bus

after dark and a meal not worth mentioning

who picks up my book but finds his eyes

closing before he has opened the cover,

I say: Forgive me

I am only a writer sitting in a green recliner

with a cup of tea, I can’t explain

those two ands or the mysterious

streetlamp or warm the feet of a tired

reader in his bed. I can only put music on

and tell him stories to make movies

turn in his head, to let him wake

with the sudden understanding that poetry

may be all it takes to make a life—

well, my life at any rate, and maybe his,

and maybe the nitpicker’s and yours, too,

staring through the porch to the streetlamp

where what happens so mysteriously ispoetry—

and the whole night is wrapped

in the words spoken by two strangers

meeting there, or not spoken, which is poetry too,

and all of us who listen are waiting

for the music of what is to happen.

M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song, in French with translation

Phoebe’s translation:

Ever since we were kids,

My friend, we struggled,

But now that we are men

I want to put the oars/ struggles behind us

If tears come to you

Come then, and give them to me

Gypsy men and women

This is what we were made for

 

Tiago, I have taken the time to write you

A song in a thousand smiles

Tiago I have put in the time to say it

But my friend, I will be here for the worst

 

Whoever makes fun of you

Also makes fun of me

In 20 years you will see

How we will laugh (about it)

If that turns into a fight

We will play it four-handed

Gypsies

God gives us fists (for this purpose)

 

Tiago, I have taken the time to write you

A song in a thousand smiles

Tiago I have put in the time to say it,

But my friend, I will be here for the worst.

 

My friend, Tiago.

(Repeated)

 

The girlfriend who leaves

And will never return

It’s about time for us to see each other, yes,

And talk about you

If your heart is broken

Bring it here now

Gypsies,

We are good repairmen.

 

Tiago, I have taken the time to write you

A song in a thousand smiles

Tiago I have put in the time to say it,

But Tiago my friend…

Tiago, I have taken the time to write you

A song in a thousand smiles

Tiago I have put in the time to say it

But my friend I will be here for the worst.

 

Tiago

 

Review of my Last Book

 

Not sure why link is not working but if you click on it you will get to Disability Arts Onljne, from there go to magazine, then click on newest reviews. The second one in, so far, should be about O-rings and Cathode Rays, that is to say, the review.

 

i will try posting this address which may copy and paste better than the link does.

http://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/phoebe-sparrow-wagner-learning-to-see-in-three-dimensions-o-rings-and-cathode-rays/

see my comment at the bottom of the review

Phoebe Spiro Wagner: Learning to See in Three Dimensions – O-Rings and Cathode Rays

http://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/phoebe-spiro-wagner-learning-to-see-in-three-dimensions-o-rings-and-cathode-rays/

 

OH DONNIE BOY…(Scary!)

(Sung to the tune of Danny Boy)

Oh Donny boy, republicans are gawking

Your racist house of cards won’t long abide

The  Dems are here and Michael Cohen’s talking.

If it’s all true, impeachment’s justified:

The loans you got, the tax bills you evaded

The conning schemes and hushed-up bribes you paid,

Your wall, your wall, which Mexico won’t subsidize

Its clear that you won’t get that Nobel prize…

But we won’t care or listen to your keening

We won’t weep moats for loss of your golf greens

We’ll celebrate by speaking truth to trumpery

We’ll speak it loud, from sea to shining sea.

So slink you back, in orange jumpsuit, cowering, 

Mike, Paul and Rog will go to jail unbowed

It’s not fake news we’ve caught you with your panties down

Oh Donny boy, oh Donny boy, who’s winning now?

 

by phoebe sparrow wagner 3/2019

“Twin Realities”: schizophrenia article from 2003

Pam and Lynn Spiro, in England, 1962

 

 

 

 

 

Kathleen Megan’s story from 2003, while DIVIDED MINDS was being written.

http://schizophrenia.com/stories/twins.htm

 

 

Carolyn  and Pamela, after she put on 60lbs on Zyprexa (olanzapine)

“The thing about twins is they invite comparison. Even though they may look identical, one usually has the edge — a little more confidence, a quicker smile, perhaps a bit more talent.

As babies and little girls, Pam Wagner and Carolyn Spiro were like that. They danced and acted and held promise that delighted their parents. They loved it when people mixed them up. They were a tight club of two.

And then in adolescence, Pam, the one with the edge, lost touch with her own mind. Life became confusing and the twins’s lives took separate paths, diverging and then intersecting repeatedly, as they once again do now. Pam is a poet and Carolyn a psychiatrist. In midlife, they’ve come together to write a book, to try to capture their story for the benefit of others, and also for themselves.

Their story is a tale of the inseparable bond of sisters, of twins, and their struggle when their lives became anything but identical.

• • •

When you enter Pam’s apartment you can’t escape the photo test: two adorable baby girls, ribbons in downy hair, one gazing intently, the other head-tilted, tentative. Both bright-eyed, identical. Which is which? Which is Pammy and which is her twin, Lynnie?

You can’t tell. Is that thoughtful tilt a Lynnie trait? The more focused expression Pammy’s? Impossible to say, so you guess and you guess wrong.

And you wonder, was the die already cast at so young an age? Were they already – though indistinguishable on the outside – so very divergent on the inside? The seed of illness, perhaps, already planted; the roles of caretaker and cared-for so early ordained. You try to reconcile these photos – these identical babies and later, mirror-image school girls – with all you see a half-century later.

So very different are they now. How do they live with this, the undoing of their twinhood? And, how has their family, so accomplished and talented, coped with the slap of fate? That one became psychotic, the other a psychiatrist. Pam catches you staring at the beguiling babies. “You know,” she says, “I was well once.”’

click on link above to find rest of story, written after a years long series of interviews, both at home and in hospitals.

 

The DEEPER DIG at Vermont Digger — on Mental Health Care challenges

Features me and a poem…as well as a discussion of mental health “care” with DMH commissioner, Mourning Fox

https://vtdigger.org/2018/11/16/deeper-dig-hospitals-struggle-psychiatric-care/