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Cortado: Santuario de letras y guitarras


Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Es un viernes de diciembre del 2021, y afuera hace frío. Pero esta antesala al invierno de Iowa no es motivo para no reunirse en el Sanctuary Pub de Iowa City, tomar una cerveza y escuchar cuentos, historias y poemas en idioma español.

Esta noche no es una cualquiera porque esta actividad literaria llamada Subtituladxs se realiza después de dos años; una pausa larga producto de la pandemia. Por ello no me equivoco si digo que el público asistente esa noche estuvo alegre, motivado, y no menos de uno tenía ánimo de fiesta. Y también lo estaban Arturo Camacho (Colombia), Lara Dopazo (España), Mireya Hernández (España), Javier Hernández (Colombia) y Lupita Zavaleta Vega (México), todos ellos y ellas estudiantes del programa de escritura creativa en español de la Universidad de Iowa.

Es cierto que los textos se leyeron en idioma español, pero hubo también una traducción de los mismos al idioma inglés, la cual se proyectó sobre una pantalla ecran. Este detalle ha permitido que más personas puedan asistir y disfrutar de buena literatura en español.

Pero hubo más cosas aquella noche en el Sanctuary Pub. En un ambiente contiguo a la actividad literaria hay música en vivo a cargo del grupo Cedar County Cobras de Iowa City. Ellos tocan canciones de música blues, y otros de sus temas son una mezcla de blues, rock y folk. En todo caso, para mí es más fácil mirar la guitarra de acero del músico Tom Spielbauer, escuchar su voz grave, ver como golpea la batería de pie, y escuchar cómo suena el contrabajo de su compañera, April Dirks. Todo esto es más fácil y hermoso que intentar clasificar la música que él y ella están tocando esta noche.

A simple vista blues y literatura parecen dos cosas distintas, una alejada de la otra. Pero aquella noche de diciembre, en el Sanctuary, yo no había visto tanta familiaridad entre la música blues y la literatura. ¿Será acaso porque la literatura es también una forma de música y el blues una forma de literatura?

Yo pienso que sí, en tanto ambas artes son expresiones profundas del alma humana y el fuego abrasador de la vida.

Termina el evento literario-musical, mas no termina la noche. Algunos comienzan a buscar sus abrigos, otros comienzan a abandonar el Sanctuary, quizás en busca de más música y literatura.

The Sanctuary of Words and Guitars

Translated by Allison Stickley

It’s a Friday in December 2021, and it’s cold in Iowa City. But this entrance to an Iowa winter isn’t reason to not meet at Sanctuary Pub, drink a beer and listen to tales, stories and poems in the Spanish language.

This night isn’t just any night — the literary display Subtitulados is finally happening after two years; the long pause a product of the pandemic. That’s why I’m not wrong when I say the people in attendance that night were happy, motivated and each and every one in a party mood. Arturo Camancho (Colombia), Lara Dopazo (Spain), Mireya Hernández (Spain), Javier Hernández (Colombia), and Lupita Zavaleta Vega (Mexico) were there, all students in the Spanish creative writing program at the University of Iowa.

True, the texts were read in Spanish, but there was also a translation into English for each projected on a screen. This detail gave more people the opportunity to attend and enjoy the good Spanish language literature.

But there was more going on that night at Sanctuary Pub. In a room adjacent to the literary event, the Cedar County Cobras were playing live music. The group, from Iowa City, played blues. Some of their songs were a mix: of blues, rock, folk or something along those lines. In any case, for me it’s easier to just watch Tom Spielbauer’s steel guitar and listen to his deep voice, see how he hits the drum with his foot, and listen to the sound of his bandmate April Dirks’ double bass. All of this is easier and more beautiful than trying to classify the music that he and she are playing that night.

At first glance blues and literature seem like two different things. One far from the other. But that December night, at Sanctuary, I saw so much familiarity between blues music and literature. Could it be because literature is a form of music and music is a form of literature?

I think so — both art forms are profound expressions of the human soul and firey ambassadors of life.

The literary-music event ends. But the night doesn’t. Some start to look for their coats, while others leave Sanctuary in search of, who knows, maybe more music and literature.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 304.


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