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Peruvian Vanguardist + Picasso

Five Meters of Poems, Carlos Oquendo de Amat, tr. Joshua Beckman & Alejandro de Acosta (Ugly Duckling Presse) $25

FMP is number seven of the Lost Literature Series, the collected poems of Peruvian Carlos Oquendo de Amat, from the 1920s and ’30s Vanguardist movement. Though he eventually traded in his work as poet for a life of Marxist activism, he did publish one significant collection, written during from age 18 to 20, Five Meters of Poems. At twenty-five dollars the accordion-bound book is a bargain, one of a handful this year—and probably the only in translation—to so boldly embrace its physicality.

I’ve long admired Joshua Beckman’s translations, and these, executed in partnership with Alejandro de Acosta, are no exception. The influence of cinema on these poems is obvious—the book’s French flaps recount the legend that Oquendo de Amat routinely skipped one meal a day to go to the cinema—and includes a ten minute intermission that I myself skipped. An entire poem, from this collection, which we’re instructed to “open… like peeling a fruit:”

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madhouse poem

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I was afraid

and returned from madness

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I was afraid of being

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a wheel

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a color

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a footstep

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BECAUSE MY EYES WERE CHILDREN

OOOOOOOAnd my heart

OOOOOOOOOanother

OOOOOOOOObutton

OOOOOOOOOOin

OOOOOOOmy straitjacket

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But now that my eyes wear long pants

I see the street, it begs for steps.

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Picasso by Picasso: His First Museum Exhibition 1932 (Prestel) $45

P by P features full color reproductions of all work included by Picasso himself at his first retrospective, held at Zurich’s Kuntshaus Zurich between September and November 1932. Featuring 225 paintings from over three decades of work, the exhibition passed through each of the painter’s major career phases, including his less popularly known classicist phase, with a special emphasis on his later work at that time, especially his interest in Surrealism and the portrait series of his young mistress Marie-Therese Walter. Tobia Bezzola opens the major texts of the book with his excellent biography of the exhibition, which includes installation views. The book also includes a facsimile of the exhibiton catalogue, Christian Geelhaar’s recounting of C.G. Jung’s diagnosis not of Picasso’s psychology, but the “psychology of his art,” and Picasso’s Portrait of Gustave Coquiot (pg. 49), from 1901, a painting I hadn’t seen before and that I think might be appreciated by our sponsor Oregon Wild Hair Moustache Wax, the most literary moustache wax in the world.

DS

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