TRACING POP IN POETRY: a virtual sightseeing over Gabriel Moreno’s The Moon and the Sparrow

By Viviana Lombardi

The Moon and The Sparrow | Collage VL

The Moon and The Sparrow | Collage VL


Throughout the history of English speaking culture, the term “pop” has accrued so much significance as to dwarf the glossy glamour of Pop as just referred to the mid-twentieth century cult for art conceived from the quotidian. And in a broad sense, it might have thus self devoided of any sensical connotation whatsoever. Still, the word itself has become elusive and paradoxical and, alas, at times, more alluring than the modernist art it itself describes.

Haven’t you ever felt stalked by irritating pop up ads when you browse the internet for research or information? If you happen to be so in love as to commit for a happy life together forever after, you “pop” the question. Incidentally, “pop” is the onomatopoeia for the loud sharp sound of a cork coming out of a champagne bottle on a wedding night, or any night of sex and romance, for that matter. Eventually, it may have for all time resulted in a short loving “pop”, since its meaning as a very short span in time, dates back to 1530. Accordingly, when related to love, passion and lyrical inspiration, a “pop” may indicate a rapture of the heart and the senses that triggers poems and measures love and lust by subjective magnitude. A “pop” shot may put an end to a tragic love story and also make it so popular as to become a sensation of Pop culture.

Poetry conjectured as a guiding drift to accompany the first human feeling articulated as thought in the mind, amounts to the most popular form of spontaneous art in history. There has been the consolation of poetry in times of war and revolution as well as in times of trouble and tribulation. Even the scriptures and all of the religious literature originated in the soul searching quest for a meaning in existence, allow of a lyrical read of the text. The Revelation itself, with its abundance in imagery and moony blows of fractured and cryptic messages, may be deemed as the diary of a schizophrenic or the poetry of an illuminated zealot. After all, where to set the boundary between madness and the rhapsodical psyche is only for poets to say.

The oldest love poem discovered in archaeological excavations is The Love Song for Shu-Sin written circa 2000 BCE. A token of the rich cultural Sumerian heritage in ancient Mesopotamia, it is a find that has endowed humanity with some primeval expressions of human art and emotion, and in this case, the experience of romantic love and passion. To further add to its enigmatic charm, the poem appears to have been conceived not only to delight the masses but also to appease them, as it was part of a rite performed each year, a “sacred marriage”, by which about four thousand years ago the ruling king of Sumer, Shu-Sin would allegorically marry the goddess Inanna, mate with her, and secure fertility and affluence for the coming year. Speculation that in its time it may have been as Pop an artefact of culture as you can get, does not sound like a very far-fetched conclusion.

So how Pop can poetry be? Poetry “pops” up unpredictably from the pulse of the heart in the psyche. Poetry is the battlefield where the struggle for sentiments and not for ideas, occurs. Nietzsche has pointed out that people are mostly motivated by resentment. Controversially, time and experience have corroborated that they are predominantly stirred by the creative pathos inherent in the human condition.

How pop is our Shakespeare of the sonnets and the puns and the innuendos? Well, very much indeed since, equally idolised by both royalty and plebs in his time, in our time he remains a global high sell at the box office for all languages and audiences. And in addition, he’s being frequently re-popularised by groups like Pop Poetry who recorded his most famous soliloquy To Be or not To Be with their music in the background to make it a success.

Poetry is meant to be oral, it must needs be enunciated as a mini staging, performed as the acting out of an impression, a secret addressed to an anonymous confidant, a clandestine love and loss story, an epic, a legend; in fact, it is a reservoir of collective memory and emotional pulse that binds poet and readers at the core. It is the epitome of universality in art for it draws from everydayness to exist. Under such considerations, poetry is in itself, Pop.

By the mid 20th century, when visual artists adopted a similar conception by focusing their interest on the imagery of popular culture, they signalled Pop art as a challenge to the establishment. And, if something has ever inspired the lyrical psyche, it is both the sacrality of the soul and the rebellion against conventions. Poetry expresses the exogenous as existing in the cosmogony of the mind, the unutterable materialised in the echoes of our intimate voice.

With our case made that Poetry is either Pop or it may not be at all, the superb craft in Gabriel Moreno’s The Moon and the Sparrow, will further substantiate why verse is the stuff as popular dreams are made on.

The first impact of this work is the splendour in the truth of the heart the poet regales us with all the way through his repertoire. As opposed to our contemporary hipster subculture that wallows in the irrelevant, Gabriel draws from his solar core matured in an Iberian enclave disguised as British, the seasoned affluence of a linguistic cornucopia. His liberality will thus demand of his travel companion come reader to partaking with their eyes wide open, in a journey that will in turn take us back to the plenty of old wisdom.

In Muni Bird, for example, an expressionist explosion of orange, green and sepia located in an ancestral Sicily, perhaps conceived as the metonymy of our mother earth, the poet suggests of the generosity and immortality of creation, nature and the life cycle. The allegory of the soul in a girl turned bird, giving birth to song as the primordial sound, is closed by the lamentation for the dead even as experiencing a revivification of the sense existant in life and death.

I shall be a poet and a drunk, you said, lifting your cup to the stars, the world will sponsor me to never give up”, are lines from Stromboli, a tale of hope and ardent desire, set in a landscape that may be abruptly turned dismal by the power of nature, where the metaphysical outcome gives a resolution to urgency and anxiety: “Sometimes, you said, I think I’m gonna feel myself into nothingness”. Auspiciously, the poet will allow for a conclusion with an open ending, when in a future day, the lovers will jointly remember days past and desires forsaken. From Stromboli to the following piece, Naples, the pre-emptive divination of parting ways, will depict a lover who can read the future rift as if it had been tattooed on his loved one’s skin.

The dedication to Leopardi, suggestive of a howling soul searching for its sanctuary, is again a tale of passion and despair carved on an only body-text; the body itself being made the scene of tragedy, where the fracture of illusion and hope occurs. Gothic decandentism amalgamated with the pristine imagery of Classic Beauty, enwraps lust, love and loss as associated with termination, in operatic tones. The Howl of the old Giacomo Leopardi has thus allowed for the poet’s unconscious to stream out and forward to its highest pitched pathos and personalised style.

In Montpellier, the journey pauses in the rupture of an extended metaphor of recollection. Not just as a memory of the past but also as the expectant premonition of a cherished past to come. A circular atmosphere enfolds an opening and a closure with the implication that life will always restart what we have left for dead. There are no stagnant waters in the running rivers of the unconscious and reality may turn better than a dream, depending on the eyes of the beholder, the poet will graciously propose.

Two liminal pieces in the book are Gibraltar, the poet’s birth place, and The Moon and the Sparrow, for obvious reasons. In the first one, all of the poet’s red hot iron sensitivity is put to the test until it reaches the purified whiteness of a drifting essence. From hostile visions of the profane made manifest in the rheum in people’s eyes, the poet proceeds from treading crevices of desolation to rediscovering the realm where his identity will forever dwell as a vision of the Self incarnate.

In turn, The Moon and the Sparrow conveys the beauty of a motet, both in its minimalism and spirituality, the moon in the title suggesting of a paradise dreamt by the sparrow lodging in the soul. Sung in tunes reminiscent of a lullaby and of a child troubadour or a Chinese miniature painter, our poet uses delicate pastel hues to word paint a page as subtle as moist in the morning dew.

In an accomplished work that pulls the poet’s intimate world off the page, the volume’s first part depicts impressions on different cities visited during a self recognisance journey, whilst the second part encompasses sundry poems inspired by a traveller’s recollections.

Whilst colours, tones and textures are played out as aggregate visual dimensions to add to the perception of the reader, the allegories fusing nature and the human bring us the breath of the primordial verb, reminiscent of the axiom “as above, below”. With a lexicon that stirs our inner constellations to expanding the lens whereby we measure reality, Moreno creates a new galaxy where indifference becomes a long perished illness. Like a troubadour who makes his voice immortal for posterity, he sings his songs of passion, deflection, charm, disenchantment, anticipation & tender prime love to forever reverberate in our emotional memory.

Entrevista Radial a Gabriel Moreno | AZAhAR literario MEDIA

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