First Review (Philip Potdevin)

First things first. Philip Potdevin is a Colombian writer who was born in Cali. I must admit I didn’t know him at first but I took a course at my University that focus on Colombian literature and I loved every book I read. However, by far “La sembradora de cuerpos (The Body Planter)” is the most beautiful book I have read in years.

Also I think, is you are not from Colombia (My country), I should explain the context of my country, so you can understand why is this book so breautiful.

Colombia has been living in a “civil war” we can call it, since decades by now. Long things short, some guerrillas were form in the 50’s, because they were not happy with the government and politics, therefore those groups were fighting for a better country, of course they weren’t fighting peacefully and then everything got rotten and the guerrillas were no longer fighting for the politics but they were getting more a more violent so people in the rural areas started to created self defensive groups against the guerrillas. So basically a civil war started, there were carefews and all of kind of pressure for the population. Basically since this became, for our farmers, a huge deal because they couldn’t work without paying or getting treats and so on, a migration started to the big cities. This as a big big overview.

I am going to started writing about first impression, like layout and must of the poetic and aesthetics, and after I will say why this previous overview is such an important matter

The cover, as you can see in the picture, is an illustration representing a girl with his curly hair a birds which are very important in the story. The layout very friendly to the eyes and nice font.

Getting more into the book, as soon as you start reading the book you can’t stop and that’s what I love in books, is like every sentence is written from the bottom of his soul, almost as he lived what he wrote. As it say in the back cover ” The body planter is a touching novel who pays tribute to all the girls who were and are victims from the Colombian’s armed conflict…”. Maybe one of the things that appeals to the reader is the cruelty yet beautiful prose. And this contrast is what makes it worth of reading. The nature, the little town, the people and the way Frida (a 12 year girl) must leave the place because they are told to by a guerrilla is heartbreaking, but the poetics don’t let you fall in a unnecesary pity, but makes you fall in love with the character.

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The birds in this story are important as I mention. If you have read greek tragedy must know they always have a chorus. In this case the birds are the chorus and only the old man and Frida can understand the meaning behind it.

So now let’s get a little bit into the problematic here. One thing that makes a difference in this book is: As a child who is in love with his little town and how life is there. Frida decided to stay in “Las Brisas” alone (despite the fact that some guerrilla or self created group, force them to leave as I mentioned before), of course without her mother knowing. You must think this ain’t possible, however in Colombian context it is, and is plausible because the migration of hundreds of people from rural areas were and are so massive that this can totally happened. So my point here is, that the writer didn’t decided to started from what was usual which is the migration, actually he took this as an option to represent a strong child, after young woman, and created this story around her and show us in one part the innocence of a child and the love for her place but also a reality.

The only spoiler I am giving you is why Body Planter is the books name: Because one day, the river starts bringing dead bodies and parts of it (because of the “civil war”). So the oldest fisherman in the town start burying this bodies, therefore Frida is the only one who do not friends it weird.

I don’t want to make this any longer. If you can find it in english is a MUST, but if you read in Spanish don’t waste your time and read this amazing book.

…Gone

So…I haven’t been committed as I should be with my blog, as you might noticed. How this started? From time to time my mind overflows with images in my head, that I would love to share with more people and that’s why I decided to start writing a blog, but those images come and go as they want, and there isn’t an especial topic for me to keep up.

At the beginning, I though mental health might be one, since I do suffer from some disorders. And no, I am not auto diagnosed. I actually take pills and I go every week to therapy. But that’s another story. Thought mental health awareness is an important topic for me, on my surroundings is not, and every time that I have something to write, like a personal thought using my knowledge on creative writing; I feel is not going to be good enough. People will judge (haters gonna hate Right?) however I will let comments affect me as always and eventually I will see myself as nothing but a failure, which do not help at all with my mental health stability.

What sadness me the most is: When I am having “colapsis” as I call them this is a mental breakdown, people cannot understand, and I don’t blame them, they just give me what they can: “You’ll be fine”or “Just try some excessive” or the most common one “just be grateful with what you have” and I just nod like yes. Because at the end of the day I am the only one who knows how I feel, the only one who knows that life is getting overwhelming as time pass by and that I am losing a battle within me…

So yes… I was gone because I don’t know what to write, I don’t know how to feel, I don’t know if I can be a writer some day and most importantly I don’t know who am I yet, even though I on my late 20’s.

Bookstore!

I have always loved the smell of old books, those who were given away in a garage sale or probably found in libraries left to die. Isn’t weird I like it better than new books smell? I think those forgotten books deserve a new life, mix up with new books in a bookshelf, someone who will read them again touching their pages one by one where other fingertips were but they decided not to give them a place to rest. Instead they decided it was time to make some money and sell then as a second hand books.

Libreria/Bookstore. Merlín

If anyone happen to drop by (Bogotá/Colombia) just let me know and I will be happy to go with you! Right there I was looking for some books of Colombian Literature, which in my opinion, is one of the most underrated one. I’m just going to start reading the one I found there, named “La casa grande” by Alvaro Cepeda! Wish me luck.

Haikus

Getting a good translation from Matsuo Basho it’s hard, because some meaningful and powerful images got lost into translation. At least is what I have heard. However I can feel the beauty in those short poems.

I would like to share mi favorite Haiku from him and another made by me. 🙂

Matsuo Basho:

Grasses in summer.

The warriors’ dreams

All that left.

Written by me:

Bitter smell.

In my grandfathered’s hands

a death lily.

2

The dawn

brings the grinding smell

from the brown backyard

El Alto

Se acercaba la época de navidad. Las luces parpadeantes se alcanzaban a ver en medio del pastizal alto y los cafetales amontonados. Las fiestas del pueblo iniciaban y los vecinos de las veredas aledañas bajaban, para disfrutar de los alumbrados del parque central y estar sin falta en cada una de las novenas, esperando con fé el nacimiento del niño Dios. Al menos eso escuchaba Anita entre los árboles, mientras esperaba a que los campesinos se fueran para así poder recoger la fruta que habían desechado.

De vuelta a casa, disfrutaban las frutas más dulces, con su amigo Apolo y, al llegara la casucha más alta, Anita prendía la fogata y junto con Apolo dormían alrededor de ella. Al siguiente dia, repetían la rutina.

Anita siempre había admirado a su padre, muy a las cuatro de la mañana se despertaba a cortar los racimos de plátano, y ponía a hacer patacones con arepas “Papá debía extrañar mucho a mamá” pensaba anita apenas despertaba por el olor a chocolate con canela. Era la rutina de ella, ver a su papá trabajar en la finca, mientras su hermana mayor iba a la escuela. En esa época habían toques de queda por la Guerrilla.

Esa noche nunca la olvidó, su hermana no volvió ese día y los muchachos armados llegaron a la finca y se llevaron a su papá, mientras ella se escondía debajo de los platanales. Después de eso Anita trabajó, día y noche para no dejar perder la finca, su hermana tampoco volvía y ella con solo siete años ¿que podía hacer?. Poco a poco aprendió a cortar los racimos de plátano tal cual como su padre lo hacía y Apolo siempre iba de cazar.

Anita se sentía mal por robar gallinas de sus vecinos, pero tenía que alimentarse y alimentar a Apolo. Lo único bueno era que nadie parecía notar la ausencia de las gallinas ni de los huevos que ella robaba en medio de la noche, se había vuelto casi como un ágil zorro.

Una noche tormentosa,el techo de la casucha salió a volar, ella no tenía idea de cómo arreglarla y “¿que diría papá cuando volviera?” Sería la vergüenza por no poder cuidar la finca. Intentaba hablar con los campesinos que alguna vez trabajaron con el papá, pero eso no funcionaba era tan ignorada que era como si no existiera “Debe ser poque soy una niña ¿cierto Apolo?”. Los días pasaron y de nuevo las habladurías de las luces y novenas de navidad habían vuelto y era hora de hacer algo al respecto. No podía seguir viendo como la finca se deterioraba y ser la vergüenza de la familia.

Esa noche cuando volvían de su rutina de recoger las frutas desperdiciadas, Anita se sentó frente a la fogata y preguntó “¿Crees que papá volverá pronto, o deberíamos buscarlo?” Apolo se sentó y batió la cola. “Tienes razón, mañana bajaremos al pueblo y preguntaremos por él” El cielo se iluminó de fuegos pirotécnicos. Al fin era navidad, todos los niños estaban recibiendo regalos mientras Anita se acurrucaba con Apolo para esperar el nuevo día, pues debían emprender su viaje apenas el sol saliera.

Después de cuatro horas largas de caminata por fin vieron la primera casa que daba la bienvenida al pueblo. En aquella casa esquinera con una terraza que iniciaba el camino, estaba una anciana sentada en la mecedora y,con su mirada fija fue interrumpida por una pequeña.“Buenas tardes abuelita,vengo buscando a mi papá se llama Ramón el que vive en la casucha del alto. ¿Lo ha visto? Dijo Anita interponiéndose entre el paisaje y la anciana. “Niña, llevo años viviendo aquí y esa casucha lleva años abandonada.” Le respondió a Anita con palabras vacías como si la muerte se hubiera apoderado ya hace rato de ella. “Se equivoca, ha sido solo un año, él es mi papá, unos hombres con uniformes se lo llevaron”. “Hace años los uniformados dejaron de venir por acá”. Dijo la anciana mientras cerraba los ojos lentamente” Anita siguió su camino con Apolo, las calles estaban desoladas. “Seguro es porque en días festivos no abren y todos deben estar pasando la resaca de la noche buena, eso pasaba cuando bajamos al pueblo con papá”.

Las casas tenían sus puertas cerradas, los pájaros no cantaban y el campanario de la iglesia tampoco sonaba. “¿No crees que la abuelita me estaba mintiendo? Le dijo Anita a Apolo mientras caminaban, pero de pronto Apolo salió a correr “Apolo espera” gritaba Anita y corría detrás deél.Al fin sedetuvo se sentó enfrente de una casa con rejas, la puerta estaba abierta pero no se veía a nadie dentro.“Hola, buenas tardes” Gritaba anita entre las rejas “Busco a mi papá Ramón”. En ese momento salió un hombre en bastón quien venía desde el patio trasero. Arrastraba sus pies cansados y allí Anita lo reconoció era su papá “pero ¿por qué está tan viejo” y detrás de él salió una adolescente corriendo “Abuelo, mi mamá dijo que no puede caminar” El viejo revolvió revolvió el cabello de su nieta y dijo “Creo que Anita ha venido a buscarme” “¿Mi tía anita? ¿La que la guerrilla mató en el alto? “Si ella misma, dile a tu mamá que Anita vino por mi” El hombre llegó a la puerta tomó a Anita de la mano y juntos caminaron de vuelta al alto.

Midnight!

Here I am, typing on my phone and letting the words flows. Not sure where I’m going, not sure if I will keep surviving or just start to enjoy the life I’m living in.

My life it’s awesome and everything it’s just fine. However there’s something off. Like this switch we all have inside. Some people has it on, throughout the life, and emptiness never touch them. Some others, the switch is always playing with the light! If I think about that it’s funny. When the switch it’s on I enjoy every minute and when it’s off, well I always make sure to learn about myself more and more 🌙

To: Me

The scent of essential oils could be perceived as soon as the apartment’s door opened. Recently she found a new way of mental and self care: Lighting candles with essential oils and also perfume burnets around her dorm. She founded them relaxing and somehow help her to forget, at least for a minute. Besides, she started by creating a new creative space -like if that was the reason why she was losing the skill of create through words- She was working on her surroundings so she could forget about what was about to come.

Long time ago, the sadness was coming only at night, although crying has being always part of her soul, expressing her feelings: anger, joy and happiness. Crying at night was not a big deal. We don’t really know how this began why she used crying as the way to let everything go out. Neither we know how the normal sadness turned into mean and scary thoughts about her and the sorrow started showing at any time.

However we do know the day everything changed for her, the sorrow and the fear thoughts mixed together, like if she had within inside this little caterpillar. This caterpillar was growing at the same time as she was becoming a young adult. However the caterpillar started to take all the negative thoughts and feelings instead of her, of course, until she was fully grown and she was an adult, and the caterpillar inside was born as disturbed butterfly, who just want to fly away and get lost from people, afar from reality, from home from everyone. 

You can imagine how this butterfly made her feel inside. She didn’t know what was going on with her, specifically that morning. Breakfast was served, the weather was just fine and her dad was eating with her, but all of the sudden she couldn’t ate, she started to cry and having this terrible feeling that something bad was going to happened, yes the butterfly had gotten free. 

The emergency physician let her know that she needed help. Indeed she found help.Months past by so fast and life was getting better, therapy was working and all the sadness left her body and she felt that this little disturbed butterfly went away to be free. 

Oh! oh! there is always a but and this is no the exception. After everything was just fine, when she finally felt responsible and finally an adult with no stupid fears, the butterfly came back stronger than ever. Why the came back again? Everything is good, school, job, friends and family. It has to be me -She said. Of course it was her, it has always been her, but she’s trying so desperate to find his path, to not fall again into those feelings. Now she’s dealing with nice smells in her house, candles and trying to get positive energy in her. However, deep inside she knows everything is back. 

To: Me