Author: Gerald Cox and Clive Boutle
New contemporary poet Xavier Panades i Blas added to Listen to Poetry
Listen to Poetry
We are delighted to welcome two new voices to Listen to Poetry. This is a new development for us. Xavier Panades i Blas is a highly original poet, performer and musician born in Barcelona (currently living in Wales). He performs in Catalan, Castilian and English. Rebecca Lowe freelance writer/editor and poet reads the English translations. These are our first poems in a language other than English. The first of many we hope. Since Listen to Poetry is a project born out of lockdown we have not had the chance to see Xavier or Rebecca perform, something we hope to rectify when we come out the other side of the pandemic. So we have asked Clive Boutle of Francis Boutle Publishers (Xavier’s publisher) to say a few words about Xavier.
I first met Xavier Panades, the Catalan poet, in a coffee bar in Leeds to ‘size him up’ (and presumably he me) on the recommendation of the translator James Thomas. I am dependent on the advice of translators, not being a linguist myself, but an enthusiast for poetry and the voices of neglected cultures. I have worked with James on a number of projects, including novels and poetry in Occitan. James is a translator from Catalan and Occitan, its sister language. I trust his recommendations. I can’t speak for him, but I guess translating a living, breathing poet demands a different approach, free from the expectation one finds translating historical texts. For a start, you can get into a dialogue with the author. Living poets fight back, repent, argue and explain. A translation is a living thing – or should be.
I have published half a dozen Catalan poets in bilingual editions. You cannot but admire a culture where you traditionally give a book and a red rose to your lover on the patron saint’s day (Sant Jordi – St George, no less. Imagine if we in Britain… ). Catalan is a proud culture, often highly political. The subjects of Catalan autonomy and the depredations of the Francoist years, when the Catalan language was banned, are never far away. Practically every Catalan knows this verse by Maria-Mercè Marçal:
‘A l’atzar agraeixo tres dons: haver nascut dona,
de classe baixa i nació oprimida.
I el tèrbol atzur de ser tres voltes rebel.’
‘I thank fate for three gifts: to have been born a woman,
from the working class and an oppressed nation.
And the turbid azure of being three times a rebel.’
Xavier Panades fits into this world. But he brings an exile’s eye to the subject of being Catalan – the eye of an insider/outsider (‘Som els altres Catalans / els que treballem el jornal’ / ‘We’re the other Catalans / here to earn our daily crust’). These days he earns his daily crust in Wales where he has thrown himself into the struggles of that subordinate nation. Everything he does he does with conviction. He is a performer first and foremost, originally a musician, and his poems are like songs – or incantations. He draws in his breath, stands silently for a few moments, and recites his poems from memory, which has electrifying effect on an audience.
I have an enduring memory of Xavier in Barcelona, chasing after the now disgraced president of Barcelona football club insisting he buy his book (he did). A publisher could ask no more.
Listen to Poety
We would like to thank Xavier for his poems and his very positive cooperation with Listen to Poetry and Rebecca for reading the English translations. We look forward to more of his work in the future. He is currently recording work by the famous Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. We look forward to adding them to the site.
Listen to Poetry is interested in working with contemporary poets and translators of poetry to help promote their work. We can create a poet’s or translator’s page with readings of your poems and links to your websites or publications etc. For poets confident performing their own work we can post your own recordings. We also have an efficient social media program on going, that promotes Listen to Poetry on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and we will be adding YouTube soon. If you are interested in this please be in touch with us and send some of your work. We will then assess whether or not we feel we can help you.