Poesia de la Mediterrània

I cannot think of many wine-producing regions that would put poetry on their wine labels, let alone poems by an Arab poet. In  Mallorca they do, at least one Bodega does, Vins Can Majoral in Algaïda, on their Butibalausí Rosat (Rosé) wine.

Here is the poem, Els Vasos (Goblets), by Idris Ibn-al-Yaman al-Sabini al-Yabisi (Eivissa, 10th/11th century):

Eren feixucs els vasos quan a nosaltres arribaran,
emperò en omplir-se de vi pur s’alleugeriren
i a punt de volar amb el seu contingut d’igual manera
que els cossos s’alleugeren amb els esperits.

The goblets were heavy when they were brought to us,
but when filled with pure wine they became so light
that they almost flew up high with it
just as the bodies are lifted up high by the spirits.

I’m telling you this because tomorrow night, June 14th, the XIV Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània 2012 will hold its Nit de la poesia at the Teatro Principal in Palma, at 21h00. Admission is free, no wine will be served.

La Crisis did not stop the festival from being staged once more this year, but as a consequence of moneys being tight, fewer poets were invited this year and only one from far away. Here is a list of the artists participating in tomorrow’s event, with their respective idioms: Miquel Bezares (Mallorca, Catalan), Teresa Colom (Andorra, Catalan), Pedro Enríquez (Granada, Castellano), Nahid Kabiri (Iran, Farsi), Laia Martínez López (Mallorca, Catalan), Miquel Àngel Llauger (Mallorca, Catalan), Víctor Obiols (Barcelona, Catalan), Joan Perelló (Mallorca, Catalan), Andreu Subirats (Mallorca, Catalan) and Tiago Torres da Silva (Portugal, Portuguese).

The festival is organised by the Consell de Mallorca together with the Universidad de las Illes Balears under the hosting of the festival’s able director, Biel Mesquida, a poet of renown himself.

This year’s Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània will end on Friday, June 22nd, with a concert given by Anna Roig i l’Ombre de Ton Chien, also at the Teatre Prinipal.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of riowang.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much, and also for the poem’s translation from the Catalan.

Poesia de la Mediterrània

The Poetry of Clouds

I never cease to be amazed by the utter beauty and the poetic quality of clouds, here in Mallorca. For the last few days and in the run-up to the Full Moon on Sunday, May 6th, we had some spectacular Cumulonimbus clouds. You may have noticed them yourself.

Please allow me to quote an excerpt from a poem by Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), titled I Have the Wisdom of One Condemned…

… I dreamed the earth’s heart is greater
than its map,
more clear than its mirrors
and my gallows.
I was lost in a white cloud that carried me up high
as if I were a hoopoe
and the wind itself my wings.
At dawn, the call of the night guard
woke me from my dream, from my language:
You will live another death,
so revise your last will,
the hour of execution is postponed again …

The photo was taken near Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 13:58:17.

Post script: My friend John spurred me to remind you of the very exerting Cloud Appreciation Society. There you will find everything you always wanted to know about clouds, and more, including a cloud appreciation manifesto, photos, music and poetry. Thank you, John.

The Poetry of Clouds

The Fundación Bartolomé March

In Palma, there are two institutions called Fundación March. The first one is the Museu Fundación Juan March, set up by Juan March Ordinas, the contrabandista and later founder of Banca March, the father, who died 50 years ago this month. The second institution is called Fundación Bartolomé March, set up by the younger son of the patriarch and housed in the Palau March (see photo) in Palma, not far from Palma’s Cathedral. You might have sat in one of the trendy Cappuccino Grand Café hangouts without knowing what was going on in that very building above you.

The father, Juan March Ordinas, had wanted to join the social ranks of the Círculo Mallorquín, situated next door and today seat of the Parlament de les Illes Balears. The members of that club rejected the arriviste’s advances. Without as much as blinking an eye, Juan March bought the premisses next door and built a lavish palatial mansion, the Palau March, now home of the Fundación Bartolomé March, adorning its façade with a faux crest of arms complete with regal crown. Today, this set-up houses a formidable collection of 20th Century sculpture with works by renowned artists such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Max Bill, Eduardo Chillida and others, an outstanding library of manuscripts and precious books, an exceptional collection of top-notch Mallorcan cartographical treasures and a vast display of beautiful nativity crib figures from Naples, dating from the 18th century.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 23rd, 2008. The time was 19:24:34.

The Fundación Bartolomé March

The Coptic Civilization in Egypt

I am a bit biased and partial towards the good people of La Caixa. I am talking about the CaixaForum at the Grand Hotel, that stunningly beautiful Modernisme building opposite the Teatre Principal in Palma.

This exhibition centre is staging some of the best and most educated exhibitions I have seen in Palma over the last 18 years or so – they inaugurated and started doing exhibitions in 1993. So far, they have shown works by van Gogh, Picasso, Dürer and Warhol, staged exhibitions on African Art, Art from Cuba, the Greek Culture, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Etruscans, as well as thematic appraisals of Cocoa, Coffee, Salt or the Desert, presented Charley Chaplin and Federico Fellini and their work, and illuminated us on Ramon Llull, to name but a few.

Now we are treated to an exhibition devoted to the Coptic civilization in Egypt, dating from as early as the Roman times and extending until the Arab conquest in the mid-seventh century AD. The exhibition looks at the three historical periods of Christians in Egypt: the Roman period, the age of Byzantine and the Islamic worlds. The exhibition is a must see, if you ask me.

There are over 200 pieces on display, including some stunning textiles and dresses, paintings, ceramics, papyri, liturgical and everyday utensils, allowing us to learn about the Coptic culture based on writing, lifestyle and religious life. An exhibition catalogue is available for 25 €. The exhibition was organized by the Coptic section of the Department of Egyptian Antiquities from the Louvre Museum in Paris. The exhibition is open until May 6th, Monday to Saturday (10h00-21h00) and Sundays (10h00-14h00). Admission is free, as always.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 5th, 2012. The time was 14:16:26. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of obrasocial.lacaixa.es.

Moltes gràcies.

The Coptic Civilization in Egypt

Die Balearen

The most important book about Mallorca and the Balearic Isles ever was written and compiled by the Austrian Archduke Ludwig Salvator (Luís Salvador Archiduque de Austria), under the title Die Balearen (The Balearic Islands). The book was published in German in five volumes (with 9 tomes) between 1869 and 1884. The mighty edition is as amazing as the man himself seems to have been; I am sure you have heard about him and his prolonged stay in Mallorca. If not, you can read about Ludwig Salvator Maria Joseph Johann Baptist Dominik Rainer Ferdinand Karl Zenobius Antonius von Austria in one of my earlier blog entries. An abbreviated 2-volume edition of Die Balearen was published in Spanish in 1887 (Las Baleares), as well as a German popular edition in 2 volumes, in 1897 (Die Balearen. Geschildert in Wort und Bild).

Die Balearen is available in modern editions in Spanish, German and Catalan. I don’t think the title was ever translated into or published in English.

If you would like to feel, smell and admire the original 1869 edition, you can do so at the Fundación Bartolomé March in Palma (C/ Conquistador, 13). I was totally proud and in awe when I had the privilege of browsing one of the rare copies a few years ago. If you don’t live in Mallorca or you are more of a lazy person and don’t much move away from your desk or your laptop, you can read a facsimile copy of the complete edition of all 9 tomes on your monitor, courtesy of openlibrary.org. You will have to know some German though to get the most out of the pleasure of studying the 488 pages and, sadly, you won’t be treated to any of the colour plates of the First Edition.

In case you are interested, I have just been offered a dedicated version of the Erstausgabe, signed by the Archiduque himself. The asking price is ever so slightly beyond my capabilities but, there is always Once. No, I did not win the Big One last Saturday; the 15,000,000 € First Prize went to somebody on the mainland.

Would you like to buy Die Balearen? I may be able to put you in touch with the seller.

Today, there is no credit for the image. I stitched two photos together that I had received from my friend Ita.

Die Balearen

Blood Wedding

Here in Mallorca, we are lucky to have an enthusiastic audience of theatre goers. There are eight stages in Palma alone, ranging from the Teatre Principal to the Auditorium and from the Teatre Sanç to the Teatre del Mar. In the Part Forana, the hinterland, I know of not a single pueblo that does not have their own theatre or auditorium, from Inca to Pollença, from Santanyí to Andratx and from Manacor to Calvià. Tell me if I am wrong.

I’d like to share with you a magnificent night out at the theatre, last night in Palma. Eight Roma (gypsy) women were performing Federico García Lorca’s La Casa de Bernarda Alba. I had the pleasure of being invited to enjoy the all-female cast of real people without any professional background in theatre, some of them even without the ability to read or write, performing the last play that Federico García Lorca wrote in 1936, two months before he was brutally murdered during the Spanish Civil War. You probably know the plot involving Señora Alba ruling over her five daughters with domineering control. Inevitably, romance, love and death colluded to an ultimately fatal environment where people are not permitted to pursue their desires and passions.

Unfortunately, the performance by the Centro de Teatro TNT group from El Vacie near Sevilla was a one night only event. The house was packed, and rightly so.

In case you missed the occasion, here is a ten minutes snippet of the play, recorded in April 2011, with the same cast as last night’s performance.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 29th, 2011. The time was 22:00:29.

Blood Wedding

Book Geeks

Books have a funny effect on us. Ask your children or grandchildren about the effect the Harry Potter saga had on them, or The Chronicles of Narnia. Or remind yourself of The Famous Five or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Books have the ability to make us passionate. The world of books can become a lifelong passion, an obsession, an addiction.

Toni Llabres used to be employed as a butcher somewhere in the Blanquerna area of Palma for the first half of his professional career. But cleaving never was his secret passion; books were. In 1978, not long after Franco’s death, he opened a second-hand book store in Palma’s old town, not far from the Ajuntament. Immediately, El Bazar del Libro struck a chord with Palma’s book geeks. Palma’s intellectuals had been deprived during the dark ages of Franco’s rule of any foreign editions, had never read texts by any liberal authors or the poetry of Apollinaire. Then, after 34 years, sometime last year the book shop closed, was sold, locked up, gone (see my earlier blog entry).

Recently, Juan Antonio Cantarellas alerted me to the fact that El Bazar del Libro will re-open under his management from tomorrow, February 5th (17h00 to 20h00). I think we are all invited as long as we can tell a book from a Kindle. I don’t know much about Senyor Cantarellas, nothing in fact, but I imagine that he might be related to Catalina Cantarellas, herself Art Historian at the Universitat de les Illes Balears.

Toni Llabres will be there tomorrow afternoon as well. I think he must be 69 by now, coming up 70. In fact he will be in the new book store for the first two months introducing the new owners to some of his old clients of the last 34 years.

Librorum Geekum Liberum.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 2nd, 2012. The time was 14:51:12.

Book Geeks