The Art of Poetry

Es Comú Muro Mallorca

Allow me, please, to remind you that today, March 21st, we celebrate the World Poetry Day. The marking originates from a decision made by UNESCO in 1999 in Paris to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Much to my regret, the Mallorcan language is one such endangered language.

Poetry is not just verbal or lingual; poetry is manifested in sound and in movement, in disposition and in structure, in shape and in chaos. There is poetry in nature, in life forms, in ritual and in art; there is poetry in maths and in music; poetry can simply be found everywhere and at all times.

There was poetry in yesterday’s eclipse of the sun, unfortunately not visible in Mallorca due to meteorological conditions, and there is poetry in springtime’s birth of nature with all its sounds and wonders.

Allow me to quote a poem by Joan Brossa, Catalan artist, poet and playwright:

Conec la utilitat de la inutilitat. I tinc la riquesa de no voler ser ric.

(I know the usefulness of uselessness. And I have the wealth not to want to be rich.)

The Art of Poetry

A Grand New Biblioteca in Pollença

Can Llobera Pollensa 1

You may not live in Pollença and even if you do, you may not be inclined to consult the vast archive of the Municipal Library there. But wait, I may give you a good reason for a visit next time you’re in Pollença. Expect to be pleasantly surprised.

The Biblioteca de Pollença has recently moved to new premisses. I should rather say, old premisses, because the new home of the library is now in Can Llobera, a grand town house in Plaça Vella, right next to the parochial church of Nostra Senyora dels Àngels (Our Lady of the Angels). Can Llobera used to be the home of one of the wealthiest and most influential families of Northern Mallorca; amongst many other possessions they were the land owners of the entire Formentor Peninsula, in those days when non-agrarian land in Mallorca was not a very valuable latifundium. One of their descendents was Miquel Costa i Llobera (1852-1908), poet, priest and Hijo Ilustre de Pollença (Illustrious Son) as well as Hijo Predilecto de Mallorca (Favourite Son of Mallorca). Costa i Llobera is considered one of the leading representatives of Catalan poetry, ever.

For the simple act of asking, one is allowed to visit the non library areas of the premisses, including the old kitchen, the pantry, the patio as well as the Planta Noble (first floor), including still furnished drawing rooms, the master bedroom, the reading room and the reception room. Entrance admission is free of charge; you don’t even have to be consulting the library.

Can Llobera_02

If you should be looking for accommodation in the rural area of Pollença, albeit just a tad less grand, there is plenty of accommodation for rent, such as can be found at Pollensa villas. You might use your holiday stay to visit the old town of Pollença and admire the way the rich lived in the old days. I bet you will be envious.

A Grand New Biblioteca in Pollença

Good-Bye to All That

Sa Feixena

It’s time to say good-bye.

After 1,928 daily blog entries between June 10th, 2007, and September 18th, 2012, a serious heart condition caught me unawares whilst on a short trip abroad. I underwent a heart operation and had a quadruple bypass. My unplanned hospital stay rendered me unable to keep the Mallorca Daily Photo Blog running without interruptions. When I got back to Mallorca six weeks later I somehow had lost my sense of purpose, my sense of direction and – without wanting to sound too dramatic – a focus in my life, my attitude, my aspirations, the centre of my self. My organs had been healed and restored but my mental self was all over the place.

It became clear that I did not want to continue as before. I simply could not go on as if nothing had happened. I had to reevaluate myself, my situation and my sense of purpose, including my various blog adventures and, of course, my work load, my stress level and my sense of duty. Things had to slow down; I had to slow down.

I decided, albeit grudgingly, that my main blog, the daily Mallorca adventure and its endless photo sessions resulting in thousands of images had to undergo severe changes if not, had to cease altogether. And that is what it finally boils down to. I have decided to let go of this MDPB blog. I will be embarking on a new Mallorca blog which will not be a daily one (Mallorca Observed) in the near future and I shall let you know as soon as I possibly can where you will be able to find it.

In the meantime let me say a million thanks to you, my valued readers and my loyal subscribers. I appreciated your company, your comments and your numerous recent well-wishes. I shall miss you all. I hope you will join me in my new blog adventure. I would certainly value your continued affiliation.

Let me wish you a Happy New Year. Molts d’anys. See you soon.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: December 4th, 2012. The time was 14:58:35.

Good-Bye to All That

Agatha Christie in Mallorca

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, DBE (née Miller) was born 122 years ago today (September 15th, 1890). You may be interested to know that there is a link between Agatha Christie and Mallorca and not an unimportant one.

In March 1932, Agatha Christie came to Mallorca for the first time, on the last leg of a long journey that had taken her to the Middle East (Luxor, Cairo and Jerusalem) and beyond. In February 1927, the popular British writer had already resided in the Canary Islands, in the town of Puerto de la Cruz.

When she arrived in Palma, she was surprised by the large number of English and American tourists who were in the capital of the Balearic island, making it impossible for her to find a room in any of the three best-known hotels. Everything was packed. She contemplated staying in Formentor instead where hotel prices were considered exorbitant even at that time. Eventually, she passed through Port de Pollença on her taxi ride to Formentor and was immediately fascinated by the view from the bay; she is said to have exclaimed “… this was the site I was looking for…”. Her fascination for the pine trees in Port de Pollença are believed to have inspired her character of Parker Pyne.

Agatha Christie reputedly enjoyed going for long walks from the Hotel Illa d’Or to the lighthouse at Port de Pollença, stopping occasionally at Hotel Mar i Cel for tea. Both hotels, converted to Pino d’Or and Mariposa for literary reasons, became central to the development of the plot of her Mallorcan story, Problems at Pollensa Bay. Agatha Christie probably returned to the hotel in 1935. One of the current owners recalls how his mother repeatedly referred to her as “the writer“. The lighthouse in Port de Pollença was expropriated in 1937 by a certain Generalissimo to build a military base whose first tenants were the German Legion Condor who had earlier treacherously bombed Guernica in Northern Spain, in the Basque Land.

The writer seems to have returned to Mallorca after the Guerra Civil (Civil War). The photo (centre) shows a copy of ‘The Golden Fleece’ by Robert Graves, dedicated to ‘Agatha and Max, love from Robert 1944’, and a letter to Agatha & Max from Robert in Mallorca in 1946 in which he says ‘How nice to send us your blood! Blood donor Agatha! We had already ordered a copy…’. Both items plus Agatha Christie’s telephone directory were auctioned in Cambridge, UK, in 2009.

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of sensitivehomeschool.comcheffins.co.uk and accommodationnear.com.

Thank you very much.

Agatha Christie in Mallorca

The Truth in Literature

Literature has always been about the conflict between fiction and reality, the clash between the real and the surreal, the relation between the mind and the written word. Some of these arguments will be explored in Formentor from next week on Friday, during the annual Converses Literàries de Formentor 2012 which will take place at the Hotel Formentor from September 14th to 16th.

Ulysses, Hamlet, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina and other important personalities in Literature are the topics of this year’s literary colloquium.

Authors participating in this year’s Literary summit are expected to be Pau Faner, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Jesús Ferrero, Carlos García Gual, Eduardo Gil Bera, Irene Gracia, Leila Guerriero, Gabriel Janer Manila, José María Lassalle, Olga Merino, Ana Maria Moix, Javier Montes, Maria Antònia Oliver, José María Ridao, Carme Riera, Manuel Rodríguez Rivero, Marta Sanz, Fernando Savater, Manuel Vicent, Dario Villanueva. The event will be chaired by Basilio Baltasar.

In 1959, the Spanish author Camilo José Cela gathered a group of literary colleagues at the Conversaciones Poéticas de Formentor in the island’s northern-most mountain range. In 1961, this event led to the Premios Formentor competition, which was held again in Formentor the following year, although it would travel to other places in the world after that. In 2008, a revival of these international literary gatherings returned to Mallorca, and has been held in Formentor ever since.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Port de Pollença, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 14th, 2009. The time was 14:28:35. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of elpais.com. It had in turn been taken from the book Historia de la literatura española. Derrota y restitución de la modernidad: 1939-2010. The authors in that photo are (from left to right) Juan Goytisolo (National Prize for Spanish Literature, 2009), Víctor Seix, Camilo José Cela (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1989), Josep Maria Castellet and Juan García Hortelano. Behind, to the left, Joan Fuster and to the right, Josep M. Espinàs.

Muchas gracias.

The Truth in Literature

Majorca Observed

I went back to Deià the other day to take a friend from England to Robert Graves’ house, Ca n’Alluny, which was converted into a museum a few years ago. I had been there a few times before, with other friends, and I find that every time the visit is a great source of inspiration.

Robert Graves had come to Mallorca and the village of Deià with fellow poet, American Laura Riding, in October 1929, having just separated from his first wife, Nancy Nicholson. In 1932, Graves and Riding built a house in Deià. Graves could now establish himself as a full-time writer for the first time in his life. For his simple lifestyle, he was soon labeled as the 20th century’s first Robinson Crusoe poet. With the hostilities of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, however, Robert and Laura were obliged to abandon Mallorca and move back to London after only seven years. With Europe in ruins and his beloved son David just reported dead in Burma, and with a severe dissatisfaction with England, Graves returned to Mallorca and Deià again in 1946, this time with his second wife, Beryl Hodge. He resided there until his death in 1985.

I had recently read Robert Graves’ Majorca Observed, lavishly illustrated with drawings by Paul Hogarth. If you have not read this love letter to Mallorca, you must. In this book, Graves gives an account of Why I live in Majorca, written in 1953, reporting in an endearing way about life on the island and in particular in Deià, during the late Forties and early Fifties. The book is out of print, as far as I know and you can certainly not buy it at La Casa de Robert Graves. Some copies are available on the Internet, though. A Spanish soft-bound edition was published in English and should still be available from Editorial Olañeta.

Should you want to visit the house of Robert Graves, don’t forget to walk up to the parish church and the cemetery. There you will find the author’s grave (photo above), assuming you have the time and patience to look for it.

Admission to Ca n’Alluny has now gone up to 7 €; Opening hours are unchanged during the Summer (Monday to Friday, 10h00 to 17h00, Saturday, 10h00 to 15h00, Sundays closed). For slightly shorter hours during the off-season, please consult the website.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Deià, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: November 7th, 2005. The time was 17:15:18.

Majorca Observed

Alqueries, Rafals and Rafalets

When the Catalans came to Mallorca in 1229 to successfully conquer the island from the hands of the Almohad Caliphate, all Mallorcan land and its properties, titles and possessions had to be first catalogued and then, distributed. An inventory of all land, buildings, animals and goods was collated in a thick volume of handwritten pages called Llibre de franqueses i privilegis del Regne de Mallorca where apart from the stock taking, the liberties, privileges, rights and benefits granted to the king and his noblemen were carefully listed.

In that inventory, more than one hundred Alqueries, Rafals, Rafols and Rafalets were listed. An Alqueria used to be a small rural community, you could say a hamlet or settlement, consisting of a few buildings where one or more families lived together and worked the surrounding land. Rafals and Rafalets are similar and differ perhaps in their extension. Always, these Berber settlements in Mallorca were located at or near a water source, such as the one in the photo (above), a pou.

Today, you will find perhaps a dozen Alquería settlements, hamlets or pueblos all over the island, all dating back originally to the time before the Catalan invasion.

The photo was taken near s’Alquería Blanca, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 8th, 2012. The time was 15:54:15.

Alqueries, Rafals and Rafalets