Here is my poem
brutal and manifold
of the new city,
Oh city all tense
with cables and exertions
with motors and wings.
Urbe (Super-poema bolchevique en 5 cantos) was a long poem written between 1922 and 1924 by Mexican avant-garde poet, writer, critic, diplomat Manuel Maples Arce (1898-1981), also known as the founder, in 1921, of the Stridentism movement. Boring resemblance to Cubism, Dadaism, Futurism and Ultraism, Stridentism was a political avant-garde whose social dimension was taken from Mexican Revolution.
The “City” during revolutionary turmoil (from the inception, to periods of violence, to final disappointment) is the main subject, drawn from Arce’s personal experience with the Mexican Revolution. Although some references to Mexico City and Xalapa and discernible, the text refers to no city in particular; instead the modern city in general (Estridentópolis) is envisioned as the stage of modernity and the space where a choreography of mechanical noise, moving cranes, tramways, telephone poles, steamers…, takes place. A simultaneous secondary plot revolves around a romantic love affair. The poem was translated in English by John Dos Passos and published in New York in 1929.
Here you can read the poem in English (translated by Brandon Holmquest and published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2010).
The following images, excerpt where otherwise noted, come from the 1924 original Mexican edition and are xylographies by Jean Charlot.
(Images Via Selva Hernandez flickrstream. Texts via: Writers no one reads).
“Stridentism: Motors and Wings Included” By Steve Moyer | HUMANITIES, September/October 2012 | Volume 33, Number 5
“On Victor Serge And The City As Protagonist: Birth Of Our Power“, by Adam David Morton
Metropolis / Manuel Maples Arce. Translated by John Dos Passos (in the Internation Center for the arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston )
“El Estridentismo Mexicano Y Su Construcción De La Ciudad Moderna A Través De La Poesía Y La Pintura” José Manuel Prieto González Facultad de Arquitectura – Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (Monterrey, México) (in “Scripta Nova” Revista electrónica de geografía y ciencias sociales – Universidad de Barcelona. Vol. XVI, núm. 398, 10 de abril de 2012)
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