Marina Mariasch: Life in the Universe

Marina Mariasch gave one of the best readings at last year's International Poetry Festival in Rosario, Argentina – or so I'm told. But I missed it because I was day-drunk and day-angry sitting on the steps outside, too tired to get up because a bunch of bros staying in my hostel kept me up all night, and I wanted everything in the world to go to hell. I regretted it immediately, since I liked Marina after meeting her the night before when she was happy about the free meals provided by the festival and trying to figure out a way to eat them without having to talk to anybody else. Two of my favorite things are free food and being an insane recluse, and my conclusions after leaving Rosario: never stay at a hostel again, check out Marina's poetry.

Mariasch is one of the most respected poets in Argentina today, probably due to the several volumes of intense, confessional poetry that she has released in the last several years. Her pieces revolve around biographical detail, matter-of-fact statements, and sudden attacks at an emotional center, while never losing herself in self-indulgence. Her longer poems are like film scores which guide us carefully through the different parts of their world until everything is brought together in a bewildering climax. "Life in the Universe" is one of the best examples of this in her work. Instead of relying on symbolism to be interpreted, the piece makes the narrator's mind (and body) the site of an attack on the self. This has happened before and she knows ahead of time that, no matter what, things will end in pain. But the thing that makes Mariasch an exceptional poet is that the finality of her anger is not a rejection of life. The horrible things we do to each other and ourselves might be all there is, but that doesn't mean it is meaningless. Any artist can take up a nihilistic posture in the face of all the suffering in the world, but it takes a truly brave artist to go to those ugly places and come back saying we can't give up.

Read more of her work in English here & here.

(versión en castellano acá / spanish version here)


Life in the Universe

I wish everything would stand still
That the seed wouldn’t sprout
It’s the day after elections
And the people won, everything is promise
And bits of paper on the floor, it’s the first day
That I checked out your profile and sent you
something, not a yes or a no, everything is promise.
A fertile land where words are planting
movement on the flat surface. It’s a barren plain
that codifies itself as it moves forward, and shapes its destiny,
the emotional and philosophical trip.
You’re going to kiss me in the lady´s room
in a mis reading
I’m going to feel your hard cock in your jeans you’re going to screw me
on the living room couch where I got screwed by one, two, a thousand
boyfriends. I’m going to kiss someone else I'm not going to like it
the crazy tongue, a cut up snake I’m going to ask you
to rescue me and you’re going to quit You’re going to show up
on the dashboard of random searches
at google’s office You’re going to talk in perfect I’m going to
blur my desire to favor yours You’re going to install
an antivirus on my new computer and the ink because
you’re a little solemn and you don’t eat fish
we’re going to embrace alcohol and have sad sex
and a couple of mornings with
bellies full of mate we’re going to see a movie with an ideological
aftertaste that you’ll enjoy
we’re going to take a nap together you’re going to
take a nap I’m going to get a little room
we’re going to go away to colonia in style class one weekend
you’re going to call me jenny
for jenny holzer
for jenny Williams
for jenny von westphalen
for jenny packham
calamity jane
jenny from the block
and we’re going to think about living together
in facebook’s closed neighborhood
but without saying anything to each other
you’re going to post something about cris on your wall something unironic
about cris and kirchnerism
will separate us kirchnerism
will separate us
militancy will separate us
the bill from the store will separate us
anxiety will separate us
poetry will separate us
the internet will separate us
the air conditioning will separate us
realism will separate us
freelancing will separate us
everything will go by so quickly
because in reality I want to burn everything down
end it end it end it
before this becomes something
we are what's left after our projects
of self-destruction and I don’t know what to think
of what you call your art
is your art good? Is it bad?
I don’t know what art is anymore nor
how to save myself we’re hanging around,
in the capital of failed encounters
making art or making money
so that they love us, so
everything is alright everything is
alright everything that’s horrible
is also alright.
good for those of us who pray
for those who really pray
good for those of us who walk between ghosts.
the heart finds its prey and music  
comes out, something really abstract,
like when someone fuels their plan
on a foundation of feelings, as unstable
as a baby’s steps, which rarely
find a sustained rhythm.
but the foundation, it’s a lie, they transform.
stories lose their origins in the midst of time and
make their horizons real in the eye of the mind.
we move away. from above,
we react to the brownness in the desert
and to the green in the vegetation and the blue in the sky
and the clouds, and the sky is below us, locked in a crystal
ball…It’s beautiful, it’s beautiful. From a distance,
we see its brightness, we don’t see the stars, we see the black
edges. everything is clear and encyclopedic at the same time.
This is our home. It will always be our home.
Our    point   of   origin.     we want to get out but there’s nothing left to do
but turn this into a sustainable foundation.


Marina Mariasch was born in Buenos Aires. She studied Literature at the UBA and Sociology of Culture at UNSAM. Her poetry collections include coming attractions (1997), XXX (2001) and tigre y león (2005). In 2009, el zig zag de las instituciones received the support of the Fondo Metropolitano de las Artes. In 2011, she published her first novel, El matrimonio. Her last book until now is Paz o amor (2014).

Evan Leed is a writer and filmmaker currently based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition to being Assistant Editor and Translator for ¡OOMPH!, his writing has appeared in Shabby Doll House, Thought Catalog, Internet Poetry, and SEVENTY-FIVE, a collection of essays based on Marina Abramovic's "The Artist Is Present." His play "Calicut" was presented as part of the 2011 New Paltz New Plays festival.


(versión en castellano acá / spanish version here)