An evening with Violeta 

violetaparra_michele_millner_amr.jpg

I discovered Violeta Parra, a Chilean poet and visual artist, through an remarkable performance of Michí¨le Millner together with Yves Cerf, Paco Chambi and Sylvain Fournier last might at the AMR.

Michí¨le Millner interprets Violeta Parra with her heart and soul, in a rich and warm voice that conveys the happiness or sorrow, the opposition, rage, love and despair that made up Violeta Parra's life, part of which was spent in Geneva around 1963. Paco Chambi was awesome at the guitar, and so were Yves Cerf and Sylvain Fournier for that matter.

Throughout the show the lyrics were translated into French on slides projected to the right side of the stage, with black and white photos and short videos clips of interviews of Violeta Parra.

It was an intimate performance, not unlike those that usually take place at the Sud des Alpes, but with a different tint. Its south american latin touch gave it I don't know what that gave it that texture, depth and vibration I have already felt in different latin american events.

The public was diverse, but with a definite latin accent. I really enjoyed discovering this poet, her life and work, her simplicity and richness. Her depth.

A tragic yet inspirational life, that drives me to explore and discover more of her writings, and makes me regret to have given up on the usage of the Spanish language years ago. I love latin american Spanish.

Gracias a la Vida que me ha dado tanto
me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto,
asi yo distingo dicha de quebranto
los dos materiales que forman mi canto
y el canto de ustedes que es el mismo canto
y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto.

Gracias a la Vida

Listen and watch Michí¨le Millner sing Violeta Parra:

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Comments and responses

  • 08 Mar 2009

    lavinia schuler faccini:

    David, I am posting a poem from an Uruguaian writer which describes perfectly, in latin spanish the Latin (South) American spirit.
    Thanks for saying all you wrote about Violeta Parra and the Spanish from Latin America. We are deeply touched.
    Lavinia
    EL SUR TAMBIEN EXISTE
    Mario Benedetti
    Con su ritual de acero
    sus grandes chimeneas
    sus sabios clandestinos
    su canto de sirenas
    sus cielos de neón
    sus ventanas navideñas
    su culto a dios padre
    y de las charreteras
    con sus llaves del reino
    el norte es el que ordena
    pero aquí abajo abajo
    el hambre disponible
    recorre el fruto amargo
    de lo que otros deciden
    mientras que el tiempo pasa
    y pasan los desfiles
    y se hacen otras cosas
    que el norte no prohíbe
    con su esperanza dura
    el sur también existe
    con sus predicadores
    sus gases que envenenan
    su escuela de chicago
    sus dueños de la tierra
    con sus trapos de lujo
    y su pobre osamenta
    sus defensas gastadas
    sus gastos de defensa
    son su gesta invasora
    el norte es el que ordena
    pero aquí abajo abajo
    cada uno en su escondite
    hay hombres y mujeres
    que saben a qué asirse
    aprovechando el sol
    y también los eclipses
    apartando lo inútil
    y usando lo que sirve
    con su fe veterana
    el sur también existe
    con su corno francés
    y su academia sueca
    su salsa americana
    y sus llaves inglesas
    con todos sus misiles
    y sus enciclopedias
    su guerra de galaxias
    y su saña opulenta
    con todos sus laureles
    el norte es el que ordena
    pero aquí abajo abajo
    cerca de las raíces
    es donde la memoria
    ningún recuerdo omite
    y hay quienes se desmueren
    y hay quienes se desviven
    y así entre todos logran
    lo que era un imposible
    que todo el mundo sepa
    que el sur también existe.

  • 08 Mar 2009

    lavinia schuler faccini:

    And here you find the translation to English
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/benedetti080207p.html
    And here you can listen the song composed by JM Serrat with Benedetti’s lyric (El sur tambien existe)
    http://www.jmserrat.com/serrat/letras/elsur.html

  • 08 Mar 2009

    Thanks for your input lavinia :)

  • 19 May 2009

    lavinia:

    David, I found this today (tomorrow for you since I am 5 hours after you).
    I would never ever be able to translate this to English nor to French, nor to any other language, but I just hope you can follow these words in Spanish. But definitely it is a turning point… It is like a bottle in an ocean..
    Title: In defense of happiness
    Mario Benedetti
    Defender la alegría como una trinchera
    defenderla del escándalo y la rutina
    de la miseria y los miserables
    de las ausencias transitorias
    y las definitivas
    defender la alegría como un principio
    defenderla del pasmo y las pesadillas
    de los neutrales y de los neutrones
    de las dulces infamias
    y los graves diagnósticos
    defender la alegría como una bandera
    defenderla del rayo y la melancolía
    de los ingenuos y de los canallas
    de la retórica y los paros cardiacos
    de las endemias y las academias
    defender la alegría como un destino
    defenderla del fuego y de los bomberos
    de los suicidas y los homicidas
    de las vacaciones y del agobio
    de la obligación de estar alegres
    defender la alegría como una certeza
    defenderla del óxido y de la roña
    de la famosa pátina del tiempo
    del relente y del oportunismo
    de los proxenetas de la risa
    defender la alegría como un derecho
    defenderla de dios y del invierno
    de las mayúsculas y de la muerte
    de los apellidos y las lástimas
    del azar
    y también de la alegría

  • 19 May 2009

    lavinia:

    Forgot to tell that Mario Benedetti died the day before I posted this last comment.

  • 20 May 2009

    Thanks for the poem Lavinia, it is beautiful even with my faint notions of Spanish.
    It is all the more dramatic in view of the context.

  • 20 May 2009

    lavinia:

    Finally I managed to find some Mario Benedetti translations to English. I believe poems are impossible to translate, they only could be rewritten sometimes. But you can have a taste below.
    M. Benedetti was exiled from Uruguay for many years since he was a strong critic of military dictatorship and of the influence of US on Latin America. What I loved about him is that he stayed being optimistic until the end of his life.
    So, another poem, now in English.
    Don´t Save Yourself
    Mario Benedetti
    Don’t Save yourself,
    Don´t be immobile
    On the edge of the road,
    Don’t freeze the joy,
    Don’t love with reluctance,
    Don’t save yourself now
    or ever,
    Don’t save yourself,
    Don’t fill with calm,
    Don’t reserve of the world
    Just a calm place,
    Don’t let fall your lids
    Heavy as trials,
    Don´t speak without lips,
    Don’t fall asleep without sleepiness,
    Don’t think of you without blood,
    Don’t judge yourself without time.
    But if in spite of everything
    You cannot avoid it
    And you freeze the joy,
    And you love with reluctance,
    And you save yourself now,
    And you full with calm,
    And you reserve of the world
    Just a calm place,
    And you let fall your lids
    Heavy as trials,
    And you speak without lips,
    And you fall asleep without sleepiness,
    And you think yourself without blood,
    And you judge yourself without time,
    And you are immobile
    On the edge of the road,
    And you save yourself,
    Then
    Don’t stay with me.

  • 20 May 2009

    lavinia:

    I promise this is my last post for Mario Benedetti. The best obituary in English I found for him came from Cuba (!). Here is the link if you are sitll interested…
    http://www.cubasi.cu/desktopdefault.aspx?spk=160&clk=236038&lk=2&ck=120702&spka=35

  • 19 Aug 2013

    Thanks, I have recently been looking for info about this topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. However, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain about the source?

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