September 20, 2008

Hipster poetry / makes my morning delightful / cautionary tales

O, hipster nation:
The dive bars, the vintage duds?
Great material.

Apparently a delightful new sub-genre of poetry is forming roots: the Hipster Haiku. In a traditional 5/7/5 metric scheme, one can skew the dark underbelly of indie youth culture with a pointed collection of words. Exhibits A, B, and C:

It remains so cold
In the space between my Vans
And footless leggings

Only blazer-clad
Huddled like bees, our hands hold
hand-rolled cigarettes

When the tattoos creep
Past the sleeve line to knuckles,
Time to quit retail.

Please note: an important distinction is to be drawn between the hipster haiku and the hipster sestina. Being more complex and dating back to the Renaissance poetry of Dante and Petrarch, the sestina is arguably even better (and my love of Vespas just made me laugh out loud at this bit of fantasticness):

Love in the Time of Vespas

At the old café, I like to sit and stare
At women passing by, while watching my Vespa,
Parked at the corner near the bar.
Security in this neighborhood is loose
And I sometimes worry about the thin
Chain lock that protects my ride.

I remember offering you a ride,
Just to penetrate your thousand-mile stare.
You were magnetic, so aloof and thin.
When you climbed on the back of my Vespa,
I loved how you put one arm loose
Around my waist, instead of holding the safety bar.

I took you straight to my favorite bar,
Even though you probably wanted a ride
Home. I warned you, my standards are loose.
I admitted I couldn’t help but stare.
You were gracious, asked about my Vespa.
I didn’t notice your patience wearing thin.

You had a pack of very French, very thin
cigarettes, and the smoke hung over the bar
like a cloud of dust in the wake of a Vespa.
When you yawned, I finally gave you a ride
home. Then I stood outside your window to stare.
I couldn’t shake myself loose.

On an impulse, I pulled my scooter key loose
From its chain, and slid its thin
Promise under your door. I could imagine your stare,
Your surprise. “Meet me at the bar
tomorrow,” I scrawled, “and we can go for another ride.”
The next day: no you. No Vespa.

So I had to buy this new, crappier Vespa.
The law has allowed you to run loose,
Claiming there are other scooters to ride,
And the line between gift and theft is too thin.
I should tell you that you’ve raised the bar—
I see you now in every woman who commands my stare.

I watch you, thin and intense, ride
Your Vespa toward what was once our bar.
Your hair is loose. You avoid my stare.

BONUS: An anthem for Vespa riders (with my stab at lyrical translation in the comments); one of my favorites from my time studying abroad in Italy.

Vespa 50 Special – Lunapop

Buy Hipster Haiku here.
[thanks Ben!]

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  • I’m gonna also make a stab at translating those lyrics, one stanza at a time:

    50 Special
    music & words: Cesare Cremonini

    Vespe truccate, anni ‘60
    girano in centro sfiorando i 90
    rosse di fuoco, comincia la danza
    di frecce con dietro
    attaccata una targa

    Made-up/decked-out Vespa
    Year 1960
    Riding around in the center of town
    Pushing 90
    Red with fire, begin the dance
    (something about turn signals and license plates)

    Dammi una Special, l’estate che avanza
    dammi una Vespa e ti porto in vacanza!

    Give me a Special (type of Vespa)
    The summer is coming
    Give me a Vespa
    and I’ll take you on vacation

    Refrain I
    Ma quanto è bello andare in giro con le ali sotto ai piedi
    se hai una Vespa Special che ti toglie i problemi
    Ma quanto è bello andare in giro per i colli Bolognesi
    se hai una Vespa Special che ti toglie i problemi

    But how beautiful it is to go on a ride with wings underneath our feet
    If you have a Vespa Special it takes away your problems
    But how beautiful it is to go on a ride over the Bolognese hills
    If you have a Vespa Special it takes away your problems

    Refrain II
    La scuola non va, ma ho una Vespa
    una donna non ho, ma ho una Vespa
    domenica è già, e una Vespa mi porterà
    fuori città!

    School’s not going well
    But I have a Vespa
    I don’t have a girl
    But I have a Vespa
    Sunday is already here
    And my Vespa takes me outside the city

    Esco di fretta, dalla mia stanza
    a marce ingranate dalla prima alla quarta
    devo fare in fretta, devo andare a una festa
    fammi fare un giro prima sulla mia Vespa

    I leave in a hurry from my room
    Put it in gear
    From first to fourth
    I have to go quickly, I have to go to a party
    But let me first take a ride around
    On my Vespa

    fuori città!

    Outside the city!

    heather — September 20, 2008 @ 10:44 am

  • Cricket On The Hill/
    Gone now, it was so special/
    Open mic nights rock

    Chase Squires — September 21, 2008 @ 4:06 pm

  • Hi, need some help from an italian? :)
    Excellent translation!
    The bit you miss in stanza 1 (“comincia la danza
    di frecce con dietro
    attaccata una targa”)
    sounds more or less like “the dance of the indicators [turn signals] with a licence plate attached in the back begins”…
    More or less…
    Great blog, btw

    Anonymous — October 2, 2008 @ 5:40 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

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