Seth Copeland, Publishing Editor
Sydney Vance, Senior Poetry Editor
By David Aristi
Gold been beaten outta me by
Every passing year, lo que queda
Funciona despacio — what’s left
The beastly things
I miss, but in war, South Central, or in Juarez
Juárez La Jodida
Or think Aleppo, those goat & sheep sins would be laughable
Confieso porque me he vuelto demasiado viejo para presidió —
I confess because I just turned too old for hoosegow:
I’d need Viagra for the Moon now: I can bathe for hours in
Her boob milk light and still remain
A pure old man standing in the night,
Tan Viejo que hecha de menos odiar su bastón —
So old that he misses hating his walking stick.
I’ve been known to bring dead pigeons
To the doormat of the widow
To express my affections, but leaving room for doubt, for kicks.
Till one day on Christmas I show up with a feather in my hat
Daniel Aristi was born in Spain. He studied French Literature as an undergrad (French Lycée in San Sebastian) and went on to a graduate degree in Economics and International Humanitarian Assistance. He now lives and writes in Switzerland with his wife and two children, and the family’s heart is located in South Africa. Daniel’s work is forthcoming or has been recently featured in L. A. Review, Superstition Review, Dewpoint, and Berkeley Poetry Review. Daniel is also a 2015 Pushcart nominee, and his flash fiction was recently selected by Stuart Dybek to appear in the Queen’s Ferry Press anthology Best of Small Fictions 2016. He’s been nominated again for Best of Small Fictions 2017.
1) The images in your work are striking, and I’m fairly certain that “boob milk” is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life. What is the inspiration behind “Werewolf Viejo?”
Thank you very much for this. “Werewolf Viejo” is really about growing old, certainly in terms of a man’s ability to fulfill his lust, and looking back at long-gone, better times. And still being able somehow to retain some of the old magic and, defiantly, tell Time that you are still standing.
To this core concept, I then added a bilingual cover and made the main character – which I suspect is a future me – an elderly Latino gentleman facing mortality. I recently turned 46 thus this halfway point perspective is something that has unconsciously become part of my poetry these days.
2) Tell us a little about your Pushcart nomination. What was the poem/collection about?
That was in late 2015 and I was over the moon. The good people at Dirty Chai considered that my flash fiction / prose poem “AMERIQ&A” was worth nominating, which I appreciated enormously. “AMERIQ&A” is about South American immigrants trying to make it in a dodgy US neighborhood and how the first generation born on American soil relates to parents that are still very much rooted in a different reality. As a Spaniard who grew up mesmerized by the US in the 70s and 80s – think space shuttle and Back to the Future – and having lived in Bolivia for some years, I am attracted by the relation between North and South America.
3) Tell us about the evolución of your own personal definition of poetry.
When I started writing, it was mainly nonfiction based on my experiences as an expatriate in a number of countries I had the chance to live in, from Bosnia to Indonesia to Botswana. But the more I wrote about what I saw and heard, the more I wanted to write about what I felt and imagined. I remember very distinctly being at the airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, trying to write a poem for the first time on the basis of a trip to Darfur in Sudan. This attempt did not work at all, but it got me hooked to the freedom of poetry.
Since then I have tried to read and write as much poetry as I can in order to develop my own voice. In this evolución, I try to both enjoy and explore the endless possibilities of poetry – the fact that anything in life, if approached properly, can become a poem. This poem, first, must move people, make the reader angry, nostalgic, vulnerable or uneasy, say, but never indifferent. Second, the reader should be able to appreciate how this feeling has been infused into him or her, how the delicate machinery of the poem has worked its way into its public by way of images, unexpected changes of direction, unexplored territories.
4) Someone is new to Spanish language poetry, and wants to expand beyond Neruda. Who or what should they absolutely read?
This is tricky…I would certainly recommend Julio Cortázar (Argentina) – and more for his short fiction, actually – and Juan Ramón Jiménez (Spain). But I would also add US poets that combine both English and Spanish like Eduardo C. Corral and Juan Felipe Herrera.
5) What do you hope people will gain by reading your poems?
I hope, as I mentioned before, that they would be moved. That for several seconds an emotion will linger and a short moment of introspection will happen. Anything but indifference.
6) Last one: describe your style in one word—
Daniel Aristi’s poem “Werewolf Viejo” can be found in the Spring 2017 edition of The New Plains Review.
Seth Copeland and Sydney Vance are Senior Editors for New Plains Review. Seth is a second-year graduate student and Sydney is a graduating senior.