Saturday, July 24, 2010

Aufgabe 9 from Chicago's Polonia to Lodz to the Future

What has made Aufgabe Magazine, and Litmus Press one of the most important places in contemporary poetry and critique is the fact that unlike so many other "avant garde" magazines they have always championed real diversity rather than a false diversity. Litmus and Aufgabe have championed the normal diversity syphers
race, gender, sexual orientation but they have also championed regional diversity and have never been a place where the anyone can feel comfortable. I know this from personal experience. As a distinctly "hetero" male I was welcomed to bring to light one of my passions- Brazilian poetry and poets to a wider audience in an earlier edition of Aufgabe. But Litmus has also brought such new and diverse poets as Mark Tardi, Roberto Harrison and Jennifer Scappettone to light and given these poets and critics a great megaphone to get their clear poetic messages before a wider audience and for that Litmus must be thanked and revered.

So now for Aufgabe 9. After the spectacular Aufgabe 8 which featured the poetry of Italy curated by Jennifer Scappettone you had to ask yourself what more could be done? Mark Tardi, my dear friend, has taken a taunting subject, Polish poetry to a new level. Mark (and by the way Scappettone as well) come at their subjects out of a motivation that is too often ignored they are members of a diaspora.

Mark Tardi is a member of the great Chicago Polonia one of the great diasporas of the last 100 years and he brings that sense to his fine curation of a great section. Tardi is a classically trained poet and critic and the fact that he went to Brown and studied with the Waltrop's does not hurt his level of taste but this editorial job is something else entirely- it is in short Tardi becoming his own poet and critic before our eyes. The fact that Aufgabe let him do this work in this way is a testament to the efficacy of Aufgabe and why as a journal it needs to continue to feed our poetic conversation.

The Polish section is divided in the following fashion;

Miron Białoszewski, Five Poems
Andrzej Sosnowski, Five Poems
Przemysław Owczarek,
Four Poems Ewa Chruściel,
Five Poems Kacper Bartczak,
The Polish Language in Extreme and Intermediary States of “Siulpet”:
Miron Białoszewski’s Erroneous Emotions

Gallery II: Erroneous Emotions Miron Białoszewski, Seven Poems Justyna Bargielska, Six Poems Miłosz Biedrzycki, Three Poems Katarzyna Szuster, Five Poems

Gallery III: Were & Whir Miron Białoszewski,
Nine Poems Monika Mosiewicz,
Five Poems Kacper Bartczak, Four Poems Aneta Kamińska, Eight Poems
As a critic it is impossible to know what these poems mean since I do not speak or read Polish but in translation a culture is displayed that all too often is ignored and not known in America even among the members of Poland's large diaspora.
Tardi has included translations of the Polish Miron Białoszewski, who if he was writing in English or Spanish surely would have won the Nobel Prize and whose obra is profound. We are talking here about a poetic light whose sound and tone needs to be shared, Tardi has done this for us at least by analogy through translation.
Tardi has also includes some new and still living Polish poets including Ewa Cruschiel and Katarzyna Szuster poets who while still in the heroic tradition of Polish writing are post modern in a way that the earlier generation were not allowed to be this is a delight for the reader.
I am totally biased of course; Mark is my friend and he is one of the poets I most admire because he does in his own work what Litmus Press has done well. Tardi is a person who while well formed has not forgotten what made him a poet and a person and this sense of groundedness fills Aufgabe 9 with a kind of clean clarity not found amongst most literary magazines so all I say is Bravo... and by the way thanks to Poland for saving Western Civilization and giving the world Jan Sobieski, Chopin, Lech Walesa and Miron Bioloszewski.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Dance of Death

Yesterday I went to a family friend's Fourth of July party. At this party were the usual suspects from my youth people in whose spiritual grasp I was formed as a person an whose concerns I became imbued. These people are dear to me and among the group were priests and sisters who cared for us and loved us. It is because of the fact that I come from a great Catholic community filled with the right virtues that when faced with the facts of the Danze Macabre of Pedophilia I am so offended and feel that I must vomit it out of my mouth and speak the truth.

When I arrived in Cochabamba, Bolivia in March of 1994 to begin my tour as a Catholic Lay Missioner Liberation Theology was still very much part of the conversation. There were Christian Base Communities that were very active, Bishop’s conferences stood with the Poor and Oppressed and used language that was unambiguously favorable to those who were fighting oligarchy and international finance.
While the Church was of course hypocritical about these issues on the ground there were many people living and working with the poor and trying to make lives better for so many.
The heroes of a prophetic Catholicism were still revered; Pope John XXIII, Oscar Romero, Dom Helder -Camarra, Ernesto Cardenal, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. These were considered the saints of our times. We all felt that things were changing and getting better within the Church.
But at the same time a new wind was blowing. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II did not revere these figures and wanted obedience. All the figures above were too radical, too liberal and hard to control. The Church was going to corral the last vestiges of what has been unleashed at the Second Vatican Council.
CELAM the Latin American Bishop’s conference was to be muted and controlled, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was to be quieted, and the Church was not going to tolerate the prophetic voices of leaders like Oscar Romero any more. This was the primary objective of John Paul and Joseph Ratzinger.
Child rape was an afterthought.
In a New York Times article Friday the reality of this campaign has been brought to light. It shows that instead of dealing with pedophilia and child rape Joseph Ratzinger was more interested in “Fighting Liberation Theology Which is a Threat to the Faith”.
He and the falsely Sainted John Paul II willfully ignored child rape around the world in pursuit of their goal of ideological conformity. In the same year that Fr Charles Curran SJ was public ally admonished for his views and silenced for daring to question the Church on priestly celibacy and abortion Joseph Ratzinger allowed known Child Rapists to be transferred to new parishes to rape again.
At the same time that Pope John Paul II was persecuting Catholic intellectuals and writers like Ernesto Cardenal and Leonardo Boff for preaching an “Option for the Poor” he was allowing Fr Goeghan in Boston to rape and damage children.
At the same time that John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger were purging Latin America of Christian Base Communities a priest who raped children was transferred from Ireland to Chicago to Portland Oregon so he could rape in three different dioceses.
What this article brings to light is that ideological conformity and power were much more important to Joseph Ratzinger and John Paul II than Children or even Catholic Dioceses where these Children came from.
There is a real sense you reap what you sew by what has happened around the world since then. In Latin America the Base Community Movement was destroyed but according to a recent study by a major religious think tank over 50% of the Evangelical pastors in Central and South America were formerly Catechists in Base Communities.
Much of the hemorrhage of the Faithful in Latin America, estimated at 35% of all Catholics, is due to losses to Evangelicals and much of this was facilitated by the destruction of Base Communities. In the United States a stable and growing Catholic Church was destroyed by John Paul II and Ratzinger’s desire for power.
This week the Diocese of Cleveland Ohio will close 52 parishes because of the loss of the faithful. Mass attendance is down from 52% in 1980 to 24% today. Many dioceses including Boston have closed hundreds of Parishes .
Contributions are down to all Catholic groups because of the fact that the Church chose pedophiles over children. The Catholic Church in many ways has ceased to be a factor in American life for the first time since the 1830’s.
Conservative Catholics and their megaphone media like EWTN try to say that the Church is fine but that there is sin that is insidious. The fact is that the pedophilia scandal was not caused by “Homosexuals” as one bishop recently said but by a power crazed clergy, pope and cardinal who decided that it was not important enough to address.
Conservative Catholics like Peggy Noonan try to add monikers to Pope John Paul II such as great. The fact is the correct moniker is “the terrible”. Before John Paul II came to power it is true that Communism ruled eastern Europe and the Church was in turmoil. But it was also a place where great thinkers and movements could thrive. It was the Church of Charles De Foucould, Thomas Merton, Oscar Romero and Base Communities. It was a vibrant place.
But what is it now?
Nations like Ireland which in 1978 were devoutly Catholic are now agnostic because of the sex scandal. Regions that were once completely Catholic like Latin America are now only culturally Catholic while the real energy in religion moves towards Evangelicals and ‘new’ Churches.
The American Church which was once so vibrant and so giving financially to their global brethren is declining and staggering toward irrelevancy. Parishes like my home parish that were once so vibrant have become stagnant as people shield their Children from the violators and good priests and good sisters watch their work being destroyed by sexual predators and their protectors in the Vatican.
John Paul the Great- The Great Destroyer