Snippets, Vignettes, Poetry, Eduardo Galeano and Ivo Andric

I haven’t updated the blog in a while, but I have been creatively productive. I have started writing a collection of vignettes from the lives of two characters.  Right now I am just focusing on writing the vignettes from different parts of their lives, and although the product is a series of snippets, there is reason to the madness and it I think that readers will be able to piece together the larger story from the vignettes.

While writing this, I have also been reading (not intentionally!) two books that are a series of vignettes. The first one is Espejos by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano (Translated as Mirrors: The Story of Almost Everyone). In the book, “Galeano retells the history of the world from the point of view of the powerless, the voiceless and the dispossessed…he presents his story as a series of short vignettes..”. I have read this book a while ago and recommended it to many. I’ve actually bought it on my recent trip to Madrid because it’s one of those books I just really wanted to own.

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The second book I’m reading is called Susret  (rough translation as Encounter) by the Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andric. I am absolutely loving this one because he writes about the same randomness that I find fascinating.  The vignette called Susret, or encounter, stuck out to me because he writes about how he feels the need to document someone’s smile, and how he doesn’t want the “story” of this smile to go undocumented.  Like Galeano, most of Andric’s vignettes in this book are about a page or so, with a few stories which are a bit longer. A lot of the vignettes served as jumping points to larger works of this Nobel winning writer.

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As for my own story which consists of vignettes, it is influenced by injustice, war, but also by friendship, love, goodness, and those with the fighting spirit to change things in their own different ways.  I took a poetry class earlier, but I didn’t think that poetry will ever be my main mode of writing. However, when I read some of my vignettes to a friend, she told me that a lot of my writing post-poetry workshops was very poetic. So I am very grateful for that experience.

Below is a snippet of the story. Still very rough and in need of a lot of editing (this one is pre-poetry), but these are the few lines that propelled the entire thing:

The paintbrush is soaked with vibrant red paint. It glides smoothly over the yellow already on the canvas, blends, and adds fire to the otherwise calm sunset sky. This is what I want to capture: the intense beauty of my sky, this sky covering the ruthless reality of my town. My hands, which to the humiliation and disappointment of my father are much more adept at maneuvering a paintbrush than a gun, are stained with hunter green, royal blue, mustard yellow. The mustard yellow of the houses in my painting, of my sister’s raggedy dress, and of the specks in her otherwise green eyes. 

The men are coming to our house to discuss the looming war. My stomach growls with hunger, but I stay on the roof with my canvas to avoid having to pass them.  I don’t understand this anger which is threatening to turn neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. All sides are confused and too stubborn to admit it, so they puff up their chests and attack. That is what real men do, according to my father. They attack. They attack the enemy. They attack women and children.

I’ve never been the attacking kind. Most of my life has been spent defending myself…”

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