Edited and translated by Forrest Gander (Shearsman Books 2014).
On Monday 24th March I attended the book launch of this terrific collection; it was held in the Auditorio del Instituto Cervantes de Londres and two of the poets, Pilar Fraile Amador and Esther Ramón read in Spanish from the volume. They were accompanied by Forrest Gander who read from his translations.
Well, when it was suggested that ‘genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood’ Mr Eliot was absolutely spot on the mark. I don’t know very much Spanish: I was deeply moved. The readings communicated an urgency that mattered and I was quite spell-bound.
The book itself contains poems by ten contemporary poets and it is prefaced by a fine introduction written by Daniel Aguirre-Orteiza of Harvard University. As he says about this selection: it ‘justifies itself by its peculiar foreignness’ and its guiding principle is the translator’s ‘understanding of innovation, as defined by his acute ear as an American translator who seeks out the restless, inquiring voices now proliferating that unbounded linguistic space many Mexican and US poets are creating as we speak’.
From Hedge by Amador:
a shadow lingers behind the door. sour as those lemons we drip with
honey to eat.
we are a lump growling under the sheets. soaked purple. the source of
our pain unclear.
From Cattle by Ramón:
In the horse dump everything’s ready for rendering.
They flicked on the emergency lights and no one knew if they were
running to get there or to get away.
Ian Brinton 29th March 2014