Book Launch!

Argentina poesía by Franci Louann

$24.95: Available from http://www.ekstasiseditions.com.

Vancouver stores: Renaissance Books (604) 525-4566, New Westminster; and Western Sky Books (604) 461-5602; Port Coquitlam. Call before going to check that my book is in stock.

Reviews:

Franci Louann’s Argentina poesía is a travel diary transformed by kaleidoscopic language. From the very first page, Argentina bursts into life in poems dripping with colours, fragrances, sensations. If you have not travelled to this vast country, these poems will take you there. e swirl of words, intense and provocative, is mitigated with peals of laughter, ironic reflections, and gentle affirmations. To be sure, Louann’s Argentina, where the and muggings are just around the corner, is not a perfect place. Yet joyous friendship, little kindnesses, good food and conversation, light up each poem. In Louann’s trenchant poetic universe, living is not reasoned into place: it simply is.
—Robert Martens, poet, writer, editor;
little creatures, Hush, city of beasts (Ekstasis)

Franci Louann’s book captures the unique and sensuous qualities of Argentina and its cities. It gives the reader the view of an outsider looking through eyes of love – personal and cultural – but clear-sighted about dark political histories and present complexities, and the difficulties gaining knowledge of how to live in a new land. In Louann’s poetry, we hear the music, taste the wine, read the authors, and enjoy the artists and architects of this place, while we take up residence and wander its streets, grand and humble.
—Adrienne Drobnies, Salt and Ashes (Signature Editions) Gwendolyn MacEwen Award

Franci Louann’s love of Spanish and the locales in and around Buenos Aires raises this collection to the status of a “palo borracho, a tree full of giant flowers.” With leitmotifs of wine, street life, and relationships from a song that grows bilingually, Argentina poesía explores what makes up the patterns of our heartbeats. Rarely does a book so perfectly capture and express its author’s growing worldview. By the end of the book, aer we’ve read poems written in both English and Spanish, we see how it is that someone can write the script for their dreams and how “at the orchid store they are filling a taxi with flowers.”
—Kevin Spenst, author, poet, teacher;
Hearts Amok: a memoir in verse (Anvil Press)

Sample poem:

PALERMO, I LOVE THAT NAME, PALERMO

I remember a Sunday
with family, after pizza

Bosques de Palermo
the Palermo Woods

Lagos de Palermo
three lakes

the zoo
botanical and Japanese gardens

we have photos
against gnarled and

sprawling trees
the lungs of Buenos Aires

—Franci Louann, from Argentina poesía
Ekstasis Editions 2020

THE HOUSE THAT SUSANA BUILT – RUSTICANA

It is as though I have stepped into a magazine article. I ask Susana, in my limited castellano (Argentine Spanish, Castilian), and I learn that none has been written. Immediately I have permission to use my camera. I’ve kept thirty-four photos and could have taken many more. (The blog story will continue below these photos.)

Susana is artistic (an understatement) and the home she has built with Jorge is Rusticana. First they built a quincho, meant to be a small house behind a larger one. Susan’s father had helped to clear the lot, with a big saw which now hangs behind their outdoor “porch” table.

Perhaps it was Susan’s decorating (and building) skills that had her & Jorge fall in love with this one-bedroom house. They decided to stay here.

Reclaimed wood is used for cupboards, doors, counters, kitchen bar, tables and triangular foot stools with stretched (goat?) hides. An old treadle sewing machine has become the base for the bathroom sink. The kitchen has several different ovens and a fireplace. Her pottery and tile work appear here and there. Wooden fruit boxes hold books above and around the computer, while four people could sit on the large dark wooden trunks. Susan did all of this in five years.

In the centre of the living room is a huge square table with two chairs on each side. Twelve people could be seated here.

So many photos and still I don’t have the railway tie used for a doorsill, the clock made from a burl, the indoor glass shower, the outdoor shower (which, yes, also has hot water), and the interior of the tool shed. I got a peek at the latter – it was amazingly well-organized. Susana’s “office”, no doubt.

In front of this adorable cottage (after the outdoor shower and the tool shed) we find an outdoor kitchen on a long porch, complete with a sink with running water, a high bar with stools, two stoves, a stereo and a dining table with chairs. One of the stoves is a small antique functioning wood stove complete with a reservoir for heating water. I expect that this oven had just been used to bake our “black sugar” cookies.

We’ve all heard about Susana’s latest project – el horno, the oven – an outdoor wood-burning oven. A friend built the walls and Susana applied the clay covering. It uses gas as well, when more heat is needed to finish the cooking process. A thermometer gauge is imbedded in the front wall. They got the plan off the internet. (I thought that maybe Jorge had built the walls, but my partner assures me that Jorge “couldn’t hammer a nail”. Jorge is absolutely charming and I was pleased to learn that he watches a movie every day on Netflix. This was his reply, when I said I was going to one movie a week in La Plata.)

So with this fabulous wood-burning oven that had just been built, I expected that the amazing aromas were coming from pizza. We were presented with plates full of roast beef, stuffed with ham and cheese and laiden with herbs fresh from their garden. There were roasted red peppers with regular and sweet potatoes, drizzled with a cheese (and some green veggie) salsa. Rosemary and garlic predominated. When my plate arrived, I exclaimed “Yo estoy muerte y en cielo”, meaning (I hoped) “I have died and am in heaven”. As usual, Susana seemed to understand what I said and was pleased.

We had beer and wine, and more available on the outdoor bar. Also on the table and from their garden were preserved eggplant (which we enjoy as table service at Portofino Restobar, our regular hangout near our apartment in La Plata), and long yellow peppers. (The latter were too hot for me.)

Later, along with the homemade black sugar cookies, we enjoyed masas finas (small sweet pastries) which Natalina had purchased that morning. Susan provided a fine herb tea (again from their plants) in a beautiful glass tea pot with an infuser.

The afternoon was a celebration for another Susana, who was leaving for Australia the next day. There she is spending April with her daughter and family. “The Two Susanas” are a bit famous around Villa Elisa. Susana One, the artist, was Enrique’s first wife. (Their daughter is Natalia.) Susana Two, the traveler, is Enrique’s partner now. With Jorge, they are frequently partying together. We had met them at bar-b-qs at Enrique’s. Just the week before this glorious Saturday afternoon, Susana and Jorge had brought whole wheat miga sandwiches to a pizza dinner at Natalina’s. (Natalina is Enrique’s mother and my partner José’s sister. Natalia is Natalina’s granddaughter.) Sadly, I’ve missed a photo of Ruben, Susana One’s handsome brother, who left early.

If fairies do exist, I’m sure some of them have chosen to live in this enchanted garden near City Bell, in the province of Buenos Aires in Argentina.