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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Writing with Manolo


As the great singer-songwriter Manolo García recovers at home with all the comfort I can I wish on him, I thought I'd send some good vibes his way by demonstrating a couple of writing tips I've gleaned from one of the songs (poems) on his latest album. I give you the inimitable Spanish with an English translation.


Lo Que Me Diste Cuando Nada Pedí

Sólo he querido de ti
lo que me diste cuando nada pedí.
Perdido en las madrugadas
que anticipaban días sin semanas,
todo lo quería de ti.
Saber que el tiempo que tengo
siempre es el mismo
no quita ni pone años;
siempre se tienen los mismos.
Sólo he querido de ti
lo que me diste cuando nada pedí.
Te recuerdo con un libro de poemas abierto
mientras esperas que cambie
el semáforo a verde su luz.
Sólo fue un momento
y ese escorado gesto
es lo que de ti retengo.
Sólo será ese amago lo que me quede
de lo que pudo ser.
Sólo he querido de ti
lo que me diste cuando nada pedí.
Perdido en las madrugadas
que anticipaban días sin semanas,
todo lo he querido de ti.
Sabes que ante nosostros
se extienden los días intactos.
Sólo sabemos eso,
que justo el tiempo de desbrozar,
tras nuestro errático paso,
de nuevo la selva cierra.
Y arrastrados por fuerzas
no visibles pero ciertas,
avanzamos a ritmo fiero de zarabanda
que nunca va a parar.
Sólo he querido de ti
lo que me diste cuando nada pedí.
Perdido en las madrugadas
que anticipaban días sin semanas,
todo lo quería de ti.
Y todo lo he querido de ti.

My English version:

I only ever wanted from you
what you gave me when I asked for nothing.
Lost in the mornings
that came ahead of days outside of weeks,
I wanted everything from you.
To know that the time I have
is always the same.
It doesn’t take away or add years,
you always have the same amount.
I only ever wanted from you
what you gave me when I asked for nothing.
I remember you with a book of poems open
while you wait for the light to turn green.
It was only a moment
and this leaning gesture
is what I retain of you.
This feint will be the only thing that remains
of what could have been.
I only ever wanted from you
what you gave me when I asked for nothing.
Lost in the mornings
that came ahead of days outside of weeks,
I wanted everything from you.
You know that the days spread out before us untouched.
We only know that
as soon as we make a clearing
after our erratic trail,
the jungle closes up again.
And dragged along by invisible
but true forces
we continue on with the wild rhythm of a sarabande
that’s never going to stop.
I only ever wanted from you
what you gave me when I asked for nothing.
Lost in the mornings
that came ahead of days outside of weeks,
I wanted everything from you
and I wanted everything from you. 

This song is packed with beautiful imagery I've taken to heart. Specifically, I've taken the concept of the days spreading out before us untouched to help my writing. Each morning when I can, I approach the computer and think, "This day is untouched, undefined, pure. I will define it with a beautiful session of writing."

Secondly, the song shows that simple images can have the most lasting impact. Just as it impresses the poet, the image of the (presumable) woman sitting in traffic with a book of poems open over the steering wheel or her lap encapsulates everything about that relationship for the listener as well. I hope to find one or two such emblematic images for my novel for the reader to carry away.

Well done and thank you, Manolo. Get well soon.