Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Jenneffer in Africa cross-listed with libraria miscellanea

I intended my Jenneffer in Africa blog to be targeted to the non-library audience, i.e. general readership comprised of friends, family, lurkers, etc. However, I see that my work here is a lot of 'libraria miscellanea' now, so I may need to cross-list posts from time to time.

This Friday, I am hosting a workshop at my school in Logaganeng for all interested Peace Corps Volunteers serving in the Northern Cape, along with their principals and/or community counterparts. The workshop is inteded to let my librarian and principal tell the story of how they started their library. I also invited the librarian from Kuruman, the Northern Cape Provincial Library Services, and the Moshaweng Municipality; all were instrumental in helping start and keep running Logaganeng Library. Each should have a turn to describe how they operate, then I will fill in any gaps and be the ringleader of the show. For truly, all events in South Africa function much like a circus; this one should be no exception, and I don't mind at all to conduct such an event.

My lovely boyfriend [who is also a librarian] has been instrumental in assisting me with resources, as my access to the internet is very limited. We spend a lot of our time talking about library and information technology issues, and have generated some good ideas. All I can do is try, and do my best. Things fail here all the time, and as a result, I am trying to make any change a slow, sustainable one. Mostly I am joining people with other people, and showing people how and where to get resources. There isn't much of me doing anything for anybody, as I feel they ought to be in a place to do it for themselves. There are too many computer labs gathering dust because of lack of people and/or training to use them. Who needs a computer when a simple book will do? Or a simple way to organize what books you have? And a simple method in which to let other people borrow them? Welcome to good old-fashioned "library science."


  1. Things I Didn't Know I Loved (Nazim Hikmet)
    Things I Didn't Know I Loved

    it's 1962 March 28th
    I'm sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
    night is falling
    I never knew I liked
    night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
    I don't like
    comparing nightfall to a tired bird

    I didn't know I loved the earth
    can someone who hasn't worked the earth love it
    I've never worked the earth
    it must be my only Platonic love

  2. and here I've loved rivers all this time
    whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
    European hills crowned with chateaus
    or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
    I know you can't wash in the same river even once
    I know the river will bring new lights you'll never see
    I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
    I know this has troubled people before
    and will trouble those after me
    I know all this has been said a thousand times before
    and will be said after me

    I didn't know I loved the sky
    cloudy or clear
    the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
    in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
    I hear voices
    not from the blue vault but from the yard
    the guards are beating someone again
    I didn't know I loved trees
    bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
    they come upon me in winter noble and modest
    beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
    "the poplars of Izmir
    losing their leaves. . .
    they call me The Knife. . .
    lover like a young tree. . .
    I blow stately mansions sky-high"
    in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
    to a pine bough for luck

  3. I never knew I loved roads
    even the asphalt kind
    Vera's behind the wheel we're driving from Moscow to the Crimea
    formerly "Goktepé ili" in Turkish
    the two of us inside a closed box
    the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
    I was never so close to anyone in my life
    bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
    when I was eighteen
    apart from my life I didn't have anything in the wagon they could take
    and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
    I've written this somewhere before
    wading through a dark muddy street I'm going to the shadow play
    Ramazan night
    a paper lantern leading the way
    maybe nothing like this ever happened
    maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
    going to the shadow play
    Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather's hand
    his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
    with a sable collar over his robe
    and there's a lantern in the servant's hand
    and I can't contain myself for joy
    flowers come to mind for some reason
    poppies cactuses jonquils
    in the jonquil garden in Kadikoy Istanbul I kissed Marika
    fresh almonds on her breath
    I was seventeen
    my heart on a swing touched the sky
    I didn't know I loved flowers
    friends sent me three red carnations in prison

  4. I just remembered the stars
    I love them too
    whether I'm floored watching them from below
    or whether I'm flying at their side

    I have some questions for the cosmonauts
    were the stars much bigger
    did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
    or apricots on orange
    did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
    I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don't
    be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
    well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
    say they were terribly figurative and concrete
    my heart was in my mouth looking at them
    they are our endless desire to grasp things
    seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
    I never knew I loved the cosmos

    snow flashes in front of my eyes
    both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
    I didn't know I liked snow

    I never knew I loved the sun
    even when setting cherry-red as now
    in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
    but you aren't about to paint it that way
    I didn't know I loved the sea
    except the Sea of Azov
    or how much

    I didn't know I loved clouds
    whether I'm under or up above them
    whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts

    moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
    strikes me
    I like it

  5. I didn't know I liked rain
    whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
    heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
    and takes off for uncharted countries I didn't know I loved
    rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
    by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
    is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
    one alone could kill me
    is it because I'm half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
    her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue

    the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
    I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
    sparks fly from the engine
    I didn't know I loved sparks
    I didn't know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
    to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
    watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return

    19 April 1962

    Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)

    Nazim Hikmet