The Poet

Where do you live?

I live in the Spanish House.

So did you take Spanish in high school?

I did. I took through AP Spanish and I studied abroad in Argentina and Costa Rica. So I got a bit of a funky accent, and I hope I’m not forgetting my Spanish now that I’m here. I’m taking Spanish classes, but it’s not the same as immersion.

So tell me about this Spanish poetry class.

Basically, we write poems for every class, and then we share our poems with each other and read more professional poets, like Pablo Neruda, and we talk about it. And I’ve been very impressed by my classmates.  It’s almost easier to write in not your native language, because I feel like you second guess yourself a lot less. Instead of being like, “I don’t know which word to put,” you’re like, “I know this one word and this is gonna be the one I put.”

Do you have a favorite poem that you’ve written or read?

We read this poem by Pablo Neruda that was called “Ode to a Pair of Socks” and it was all about this pair of socks that he had received as a gift, but it actually had this deeper message to it. It was just beautiful, it was a long poem about a pair of socks.

What was it about a pair of socks that made him write?

They were a handmade gift to him – this pastoral woman had taken the time to knit him a pair of socks, but it was kind of about the relationship between social classes. So, himself as a poet and what he could provide for the working person, and what they received in return for their labor.

One of the lines I remember, he called them a “celestial pair of socks.” You would never think that those words would go together, but in the poem, it sounded beautiful.

Were you writing poetry at this moment?

I actually just wrote something before you came over. I was sitting here, eating an apple. I wrote it in Spanish and in English. I don’t know, it sounds better in Spanish, but the meaning is kinda the same. This isn’t really a poem poem, it’s kinda just thoughts. I don’t know, it’s just something I wrote.

It says,

“Here, I wait

until inspiration comes and fills me.

The paper sits, white.

Now a drop from my apple falls, that stains

the space

the stain-a better occupier

than empty words.”

Do you have a process, like you write in English first and then translate it?

This is actually the first time I’ve kinda been translating. I usually just write it in Spanish. But I feel like that now that I’m getting more comfortable putting words into poetry, I should be playing around more within languages, instead of just putting words down trying to figure out more meaning. I also think it’s better just to write something like that in the moment, because I was literally just sitting here and the apple dripped on my paper, and I wrote something down in Spanish, and then have it as a reference if I want to turn it into something later.

So you said you studied abroad in Costa Rica and Argentina? When did you do that?

They were both summer programs. I did the summer before my senior year, I went to Argentina for two months, and then the summer before coming to college, I went to Costa Rica for two months.

I stayed with host families both times, although I think I had a much bigger culture shock in Argentina than in Costa Rica, because in Argentina I was living on a farm outside of a town of about 4000 people. It was my first time living in such a rural environment. My host family had like 500 cows and a couple thousand chickens. But in Costa Rica I was living in the capital city, which was a lot more busy, but also really cool, because San Jose is in the middle of these mountains. Even if you’re on really busy streets and you have buildings all around you, you can always look down the streets, through the cracks in the buildings, and you’ll see mountains.

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