The Notebook of Dreams is a book of poems about poetic writing. It’s the story of a man named Manuel Iris writing a book called Notebook of Dreams, which is inhabited by an Angel. The matter is complicated when the Angel declares to be a woman named Ines and being the author of the book and the author of Manuel Iris himself. It is a book of love and eroticism that has as its center the reflection on writing and the nature of poetry.
According to the Mexican academic Kenya Aubri Cuaderno de los sueños “is metaliterature, but it is also metapoetry or metafiction. Like the Russian dolls, like Escher’s paintings, like some self-referential novels, Cuaderno de los sueños is a poetry book that describes its own poetic material and creates the beautiful illusion of the book within the book that coincides with the same physical text I am now reviewing: (…) The Notebook of Dreams is not easy poetry. I remember now Kundera’s idea: that “the art of the poet, his originality, is manifested by the force of imagination” and Notebook of Dreamsinvites the effort of that poetic imagination, to the competition of a poematized writing that thinks, that pretends to reach the soul of the poetic composition and access the soul of the problems between the artist and his writing. ”
The poet José Díaz Cervera believes that “Cuaderno de los sueños is a collection of poems that, along with some others such as On the Land of the Dead, by Javier España, vindicate the poetry of the Yucatan Peninsula and allow us to see the true dimension of the poetic production of this corner of our country “. The book was awarded the Mérida National Poetry Prize in 2009 and was published by the Tierra Adentro Publishing Fund that same year.
From Notebook of Dreams
To Inés, the true one.
Hey—he exclaimed suddenly—. I don’t know if what happened to you was the same thing that happened to me; but it’s occurred to me that what we felt just now may have been written before. After all, why wouldn’t it be so?
Salvador Elizondo, El Hipogeo Secreto
Write. Come with my voice
to tell me everything about yourself.
Come close. Repeat after me: because of the cruelty
of our two natures,and go away.
Go far away.
Do not let me
take possession of your name.
Do not admit your beauty: make fun of us, expose our lies.
Strip poetry naked and abandon her. Mistreat her
as you do to us. Hold my hand
but never rescue me.
Dictate to me and listen to how I discover you.
I construct and caress you with your own hand
which is the hand with which I write,
Mía, my distant one.
It’s a good idea—you said in this park—even if it isn’t yours. It’s a useable name because it alludes to a relationship instead of a person… but sometimes you are such a fool, Manuel. You can’t make distinctions. Anyway, it’s your book and I’m not even your reader, because this book doesn’t yet exist. But it is a good idea, that name is good. It is just good because only that exists.
Because I found you, Mía, because I speak to you
I walked alone from Catullus to the dawn
from Lautremont to the birds
from Rilke to the graffiti
the beds of the old men the love of the murderer
the untouched thighs and the tongue that licks them
and I was the wound and the blow
the narrator and the devil I was
the description of everything that exists
the ugliness the one who drinks it
of two beautiful siblings
but your body Love has not been spoken you aren’t
in Bonifaz nor are your cheeks lit
by the light of Caravaggio the love
of Fra Filipo
you are not in Mingus
nor in rumba
nor in the blood which beats through the body
when sweat finishes.
Your beauty didn’t exist.
It is the first time that anyone has spoken you
and I am he who loves for the first time.
Don’t be ridiculous, speaker. Who would like
to be called Mía? I belong to myself in less obvious ways
and am my name is Inés. I call myself Inés
and I have a say in this matter.
This book isn’t yours
and I don’t care what she, your reader, says
(she is certainly your reader) who had not read
read this line
because you hadn’t written it yet
when she said it: I’m not even your reader.
This poem isn’t yours, Manuel Iris, don’t be childish.
You don’t know how to write and don’t have any right
to name me.
Watching her sleep
I have read in your ear that the straight line doesn’t exist.
Like my voice, my tongue seeks
the labyrinth of your ear
and I write to you and know very well
that there is something—there is a place—more beautiful
than your womb
though I have never seen it.
Instead —delivery of the foam, cubs of light—
your sweet bread feet
And not knowing how you appeared, not having lived
at the time that your back was the rose, open light
of what you mean.
Outside I hear something.
Outside of the poem a song tells you something
more beautiful than your skin
but also more alive: a caress: tongue underneath tongue,
sound underneath the letters
in the act of looking for you.
When did you pierce through me? When was your light
—fire, burning—nailed to my chest?
I can write a verse in which you never die.
A chalice, a pitcher, something which contains
a mad wine, dancing, slow
to enter other flesh.
Believer of your form, in my prayers
I have decided not to give in to the umbilical cord of your language,
to the summer flowers of your nipples, to all of your scents.
I don’t want to die today: I don’t want to see the river
that sleeps in your wrists. I don’t want to walk
the way in which you spread your skin until your skin
is the skin of everything that exists.
Tree of myself,
I am approaching your most fertile region.
Today we are arguing about the dedication. She says that it’s obvious given the composition (it seems) the book is going to have, although it remains to be seen how it ends. I don’t take it seriously. A dedication is written with less scruples than a poem, with little or no structure at all.
Back in my study, I have reread some parts which bother me. What is the Song, besides my fetish for your feet disguised in some rhythm, in soft words?
…it happened again. I forgot
who I was talking to.
In her lap, the Notebook of Dreams lay like a cat. The wind typical of this season was rustling the leaves and rippling the lake, but it seemed to respect the book, whose pages didn’t turn.
Suddenly, she stopped reading and said: We’re the dreamed ones. Look, note how the wind right now, through a whim of Mía’s, has decided not to turn the pages in which we appear so that a reader, dreamt also by her, can know us and justify everything. It is because of this unlikely encounter that this book can’t finish writing itself. Even your frustrated intention of singing the Angel, its absolute perfection, is nothing more than a whim of hers. Now I get it. It’s very clear that this isn’t a park but rather the end of a paragraph, a collection of words in an unfinished dream.