From: Jacqueline Goldberg – To: You

The perfect Christmas present!

Eudora Welty said that she didn’t write to her friends, nor thinking in gifting anyone with her words. Welty wrote for the pleasure of writing, but we couldn’t help but wonder: can a poem be gifted or does it have collateral effect? “All writing has [collateral] effects and damages,” said Venezuelan Writer Jacqueline Goldberg. But it’s Christmas! And she continues… “Each reader interprets it in their own way and we may want to offer a meaning and then the received is the opposite. It is a great chance, dangerous and wonderful at the same time. I don’t think about specific people when I write, I think in their aesthetic and meaningful sense, I think they won’t like it, sometimes I don’t even think. My poems are bitter, sad, mostly dark. I never think that they can be admitted as a gift.”

Yet, CHEVET wanted a gift. A poem as gift, definitely, to give our lectors a warmer present during the holiday season. Goldberg, who’s based in Caracas, chose “Botanical Garden”. which can be found in her book “Predatory Verbs” (Verbos Predadores – Caracas, 2007). “My son was only six years old when I wrote it. We went, as it’s mentioned, to see a rare kind of a palm tree that only blooms every 70 years. It’s a text that reminds me the privilege of living in the present, of considering that there’s no other timing rather than this one. I won’t be alive by the time when that palm tree blooms again, but it will. That is all about, admitting the passing of times, no longing or sadness. Admit it. That’s all,” tell us Jacqueline in a conversation via e-mail.

We would love to have a journalistic approach on her life to introduce the author. However, we like to go deeper and reach the special perspective. Sous this aim, Jacqueline Goldberg took the time to answer a small questionnaire:

What was your first dialogue of the day?

To my husband, who wakes up at dawn, before me. It’s not the dialogue that I would like to start my day with:

–Good morning, has anything happened yet?–

Where and when did you answer this questions?

It’s Monday, it’s sunny and there’s a light in Caracas that you can only see when December is upon us. It is a clarity with a certain perpendicular uproar. I’m at my desk,

in the study, in which I write since I moved to Caracas 28 years ago.

What are you currently working on?

I am editing galleys of two books that are about to come out in Madrid. For one 

side, my novel, “Sequeral”, which will be published by Varasek. And on the other hand, a meeting of my poetry written between 1988 and 2018 that will be published by Amaragord. I also work in poems about past, imaginary and impossible trips.

In “Eve” (Vispera – Caracas, 2002), you talk about… “the terrible fatigue that it’s produced after trying to match up the weaknesses…” Is it a passing or a recurring feeling?

That book was written in other vital circumstances, another country, I was a different person. But, I could have perfectly written it yesterday and referred to the sociopolitical context where I live in, to that enormous effort that I make -and we do all the

Venezuelans— daily in order to survive even in the fragility and tide.

Therefore, it’s a recurring feeling (?)

In December I try to rest, but my writing does not stop, nor does reading. So, yes, there is no time stopped. December is a parenthesis, in any case. Never leave to be amazed at the feeling, at least in my context, that everything must end in that period of time: cycles must be closed, projects completed. 

As if January were far, 

another world, a real start from scratch.

What is your bite of happiness?

The grilled cheese that my husband makes (me) for breakfast every morning.

The Gift:

“Botanical Garden”

Jacqueline Goldberg

“Predatory Verbs” (Verbos Predadores – Caracas, 2007)

I show my son the sunken seeds in the moss.
I point at a palm tree, at the flower that will be reborn in sixty years.


He asks about the branches of the invisible tree,
he chases dinosaurs, restores the carriage of a ghost.


I follow the barrier of my anxiety.


“Look at the vultures, not too far away from beauty” I say.


“Look at the tranquility of the trunks,

condescendent hands” I say.


Too many angles for a unique shielding.


I sentence “Behold a Jabillo, a Bromelia”,

I also name damage, not to cheat.


The son understands, he crackles in another flush.
His morning is not mine. His isn’t pale. Nor ephemeral.
His morning doesn’t fit my rest.


I drive him to compare our oceans,
the being of a widowed time and an identical admiration.


Jabillo: Name given in Venezuela to the tree Hura crepitans.

Translated from the Spanish by Clara Briceño.

Ilustrated by Louis Kanzo for Chevet Magazine

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