Peruvian Poet Blanca Varela, The Intellectuals and Expats of The Paris Left Bank Cafes


Blanca Varela in Paris 1940

Editing an anthology of Latin American poets of the twentieth century for Dan Veach at The Atlanta Review, I found this remarkable photograph of Peruvian poet Blanca Varela many years ago. This enchanting photograph is of Varela in her late 20s, perhaps during a period when she traveled to Paris with her new husband, abstract and conceptual artist Fernando de Szyszlo Valdelomar. In Paris she met artists and intellectuals, such as André Breton, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Henri Michaux, Alberto Giacometti and Fernand Léger. In the early twentieth century, the bookstores and cafes of the Left Bank along the Seine River were a magnet that drew many Latin American artists and writers. The extraordinary Polish painter Tamara de Lempika, visiting Moscow with her new husband, fled to Paris as The Bolshevik Revolution erupted in Russia. Mexican poet Octavio Paz, a future Nobel Prize recipient for Literature, also met Varela in Paris. Paz talking about his encounters with intellectuals in the cafés of the Latin Quarter at Café de Flore on the Seine River said of her: “At that time we all used to sing. And among those songs you could hear a lonesome song of one Peruvian girl: Blanca Varela. The most secret, timid and natural of them all.”

Additional Information

Varela’s mother was Serafina Quinteras a writer, poet, singer, journalist, and composer. Blanca studied Humanities and Education at the National University of San Marcos. After her time in Paris, Varela lived in Florence, Italy and Washington, D.C. In 1962 she returned to Lima, Peru and then traveled mainly to the U.S, Spain, and France. She was awarded the Octavio Poetry Prize (Mexico City) , The International Federico García Lorca Prize (Granada, Spain), and Queen Sophia’s Prize for Iberoamerican Poetry (Madrid, Spain). Her books have been translated into English, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Czech. She passed away in 2009 in her native Peru.

Steven Ford Brown

Documentary Captures Tranströmer’s Nobel Day

Tomas Tranströmer from Bloodaxe Books on Vimeo.

Fortunately, Bloodaxe Books, the major British and European publisher of Tranströmer books in English, commissioned a documentary that captured events as they unfolded on October 6, 2011, the day that Tomas Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The previous August, British documentary filmmaker Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Tranströmer in his apartment playing the piano. Robin Fulton’s translations appear as subtitles for the Swedish-language readings  Tranströmer recorded prior to a stroke in 1990 which rendered him speechless.  The poems in Swedish  include “The Nightingale in Badelunda,” “Allegro,” “From the Thaw on 1966,” “The Half-Finished Heaven,” “April and Silence,” “From March 1979,” and “Tracks.”

Playing For Environmental ChangeAround The World

John Paul Jones, London, England

This video features musicians playing for the global campaign ChangeAround The World. John Paul Jones of British band Led Zeppelin leads a global collaboration of musicians playing from Earth’s cities, territories, and tribal homelands, including Peranaá, Argentina, Venice Beach, California, London, England, and Kitekite Falls, New Zealand (complete list below). The campaign to save Planet Earth from human impact is to preserve the delicate balance of the world’s biodiverse ecosystem that exists within the only inhabited Blue Planet in the universe.

Definition biodiversity: Biodiversity refers to the variety of living species on Earth, including humans, animals, ocean, land, and sky dwellers, bacteria, fungi, and plants. The Earth’s biodiversity is rich but many species are being threatened with extinction due to human activities, putting the Earth’s magnificent biodiversity at risk. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter. Source: National Geographic

“When The Levee Breaks” is a powerful, thought-provoking, and emotionally charged song by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin IV (1971). The song on the Zeppelin album is a new version of the 1929 original recording by Kansas Joe Mccoy and Memphis Minnie about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the most destructive river flooding in U.S. history, with 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) inundated in depths of up to 30 feet. The flood affected Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Arkansas suffered the most damage, with 14% of its territory covered by floodwaters extending from the Mississippi and Arkansas deltas across the landscape.

Origin of the song “When The Levee Breaks”: Memphis Minnie (born Lizzie Douglas 1897 in Tunica County, Mississippi, died 1973) was married to Kansas Joe Mccoy (born 1905 in Raymond, Mississippi, died 1950). As a married black couple in the Deep South, the largest region at the time in the United States where black citizens lived, they were deeply affected by the destruction of the region where they were both born and lived. The couple wrote music and lyrics to the song and recorded it for Columbia Records in September 1929 in New York City.


“When The Levee Breaks,” recorded New York City, 1929

Film location information: This video was shot on location with dancers and musicians from cities, countries, territories, and tribal lands in: Argentina (Peranaá); California (Los Angeles, Mission Beach, Topango Canyon, Venice Beach); Congo (Kinshasa and Lukla); England (London); Florida (Jacksonville); Minnesota (Anishinaabe Tribal Land); New Zeland (Kitekite Falls, Pina and Te Henga Bethells Beach); Nigeria (Eruwa); Norway (Guovdageaidnu Sampi Tribal Land); Texas (Austin); Utah (Valley of the Gods).

Partners in Peace and Environment

American Rivers

The World Wildlife Fund

Conservation International






Norwegian Music Video

Finnmark, Norway

The band Røyksopp, from Tromsø from Troms of Finnmark, Norway, is one of the best-known electronic bands in the contemporary Nordic music scene (Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden). Part of the European Union, the collective population of the Nordic region is 28 million people united by similar cultures and languages. A very active and popular nightlife in the region’s iconic cities (Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Reykjavik, Stockholm) provides large young audiences for the popular bands and musicians. After releasing two albums in Norway, Røyksopp received worldwide attention from music videos on America’s MTV in heavy rotation. Their song “Sparks” was licensed by Apple Inc. for use as the welcome music to the company’s Mac OS X Panther operating system (2003), playing the first time a user booted a new Apple-brand computer. In Norway the band continues to create and release their stunning music and videos to a global audience.

London Photographer Adopts Swedish Baby Squirrels

Youtube Channel for Dani Connor Wilde in London

Link to Danni Connor on Instagram

Dani Connor Wilde, a pretty wildlife photographer and zoologist from London, England goes on a blind date with four orphan baby red squirrels in a wild forest in Sweden and they all fall in love! Very sweet little video of an intrepid photographer and girlfriend to the little squirrels.

Link For Memoir Stockholm

Boston, MA/ Stockholm, Sweden


Tomas Tranströmer receives 2011 Nobel Prize in Stockholm

Link to Memoir:

My trip to Stockholm was the end of this trip to Europe. A visit with Monica and Tomas had been meaningful as they had become friends in both my life and imagination. At the Writer’s Union before I left, I shared a conversation with Anya about our mutual interest in the American and Russian writers of our reading histories. As we talked on a bench in the garden, the sky and world around us expanded as literary angels looked down upon us and listened to our conversation. The sky above was busy towing its infinite, luminous blue cargo of birds, clouds, human dreams, and sunlight towards the end of day. We said goodbye and separated in two different directions: I would return to America and Anya back to Moscow. Inspired by the fullness of this trip on the way to the airport, I suddenly wanted to sneak aboard a train and continue on a night trip to Portugal, to Lisbon to enjoy more Europe! Not less, but more Europe.

Steven Ford Brown


Bengaluru, India

“Kyrie” by Tomas Tranströmer

Created and produced by Amrendra Pandey in Bengaluru, India

Amrendra Pandey is a research scholar and PhD in Molecular Physics at Raman Research Institute, India.


At times my life suddenly opens its eyes in the dark.
A feeling of masses of people pushing blindly
through the streets, excitedly, toward some miracle,
while I remain here and no one sees me.

It is like the child who falls asleep in terror
listening to the heavy thumps of his heart.
For a long, long time till morning puts his light in the locks
and the doors of darkness open.

—Tomas Tranströmer

Political Correctness Now Invades World of Literary Translations

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dutch poet declines assignment to translate Gorman’s works

MARCH 11, 2021

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A writer who was chosen to translate American poet Amanda Gorman’s work into Dutch has handed back the assignment following criticism that a white author was selected to translate the words of a Black woman who is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, who last year became the youngest writer to win the International Booker Prize with her novel “The Discomfort of Evening,” announced the decision in a Twitter post Friday.

A Dutch translation of “The Hill We Climb,” the poem Gorman recited to wide acclaim at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, was scheduled to be released at the end of March by publisher Meulenhoff.