Colombia (II)

Camila Melo Parra
Unpublished, 2020

Castillos de ceniza

A sus ojos de noche

Navego como una escafandrista buscando en cada superficie memorias que te nombren.
Visito tu cuerpo para que me delate sus más íntimos apetitos.
Lo acojo en mis manos que figuran caricias y  que fraguan combates:
Tu cuerpo versus mi cuerpo.
De allí nadie saldría vivo porque ese canibalismo tan nuestro, tan insaciable, tan bestial y tan feroz, difícilmente se atrevería a bajar la guardia del placer.
Evoco tu voz y en ella los poemas, las canciones, los clichés.
Visito las cartas donde nos desnudamos de todos los juicios
y le hicimos el quite a la rutina, siendo su hospedaje de paso.
Me quedo allí, haciendo castillos de ceniza para celebrar un amor de fuego.

Castles of Ash

To his eyes of night

I sail like a deep-sea diver looking on each surface for memories that name you.
I visit your body so that it tattles on its most intimate desires to me.
I harbor it in my hands, which shape caresses and forge battles:
Your body against my body.
From there no one would come out alive because that cannibalism, so ours, so insatiable, so brutal and so fierce, would hardly dare to lower pleasure’s guard.
I invoke your voice and, with it, the poems, the songs, the clichés.
I visit the letters where we stripped ourselves of all judgments 
and sidestepped routine, being its transient shelter.
I stay there, building castles of ash to celebrate a love of fire.

Camila Melo Parra is a Colombian poet, who also holds with a degree in Communications and Cultural Project Management. Her work has been part of anthologies like Desnudez roja, published by Clio Artesanal; Como si correr sirviera para escribir. Antología de ficciones sobre correr y tiempo, published by Editorial Otra Parte; and 100 mujeres poetas, published by Nueve Editores. Melo was invited to participate in the Mexical festival “Más allá de las fronteras,” in 2016, and she was part of the multidisciplinary collective exhibition “Apuntes del cuerpo humano” in 2019, also in Mexico. She currently works in the publishing industry and collaborates in print media, where she shares her experience and thoughts about books or her love of art. Since 2009 she writes on her blog “La utopía de Mariana.” Co-founder of Revista Transeúnte, Camila Melo has worked for the cultural section of El Espectador, one of Colombia’s most well-known newspapers, as well as other cultural media in the country.

Melo Parra’s “Castles of Ash” tackles the compulsive, consuming and fierce nature of love and desire. The search for a love lost takes the narrative voice on a deep dive. Just as the memory of love penetrates deep into the body and soul, so much the search to conjure the spirit-like memory of its origin. Cannibalistic in nature, the search strips the poetic voice to its bare bones, making desire and yearning both the disruption of daily routine and the formation of a new routine.

Translation prepared by Kevin Ennis

Egypt (I)

Mostafa Ibrahim
Unpublished, 2020

فيلم طويل

الناس اللي أيامها بتشبه بعضها 
وحياتها حاجة بين المسلسل المتعاد
والكوميديا الفارص ..
مزيج بين الأمل و الصبر
حاجة ما بين السواقة 
و بين ركوب القطر
بين المعافرة و التسليم
خلطة مابين آمال بكرة 
علي أماني عودة إمبارح
علي محاولات إنك تعدي من النهاردة سليم
حاجة بتخليهم يقوموا كل يوم الصبح
يقاوحوا في الدنيا لمدة يوم كمان
ويقولوا يمكن
الدنيا تلمحنا
الناس دي هم احنا
في فيلم طويل 
..أبطاله كلهم كومبارس

Un largometraje

La gente que tiene los días parecidos
Y su vida es algo
entre una serie repetida y una comedia de farsa,
una mezcla entre la esperanza y la paciencia,
algo entre manejar y tomar el tren,
entre la resistencia y la rendición,
una combinación entre las esperanzas del mañana,
los deseos de que vuelva el ayer,
y unos intentos para salir sanos del hoy,
algo que los levanta cada mañana
para luchar contra la vida un día más,
y decir: tal vez hoy
la vida nos viera.
Esa gente somos nosotros
en un largometraje.
Todos sus protagonistas
son extras.

A Feature Film

People whose days are similar
and whose life is something
halfway between a rerun and a farcical comedy;
a mix between hope and patience.
Something halfway between driving and catching the train;
between endurance and submission,
a combination of tomorrow’s hope,
the desire to bring yesterday back,
and the attempt to go safely through today.
Something that wakes them every morning
to confront life one more day,
and say: perhaps today
life could notice us.
Those people are us
in a feature film.
Every protagonist
is an extra.

Mostafa Ibrahim’s poem, “A Feature Film” offers routine as a synonym for cyclic repetition. As days replicate themselves in predictable fashions, those who protagonize them find themselves caught somewhere in between both future and past, yet not quite in a tangible present. While there is movement forward, the cyclic nature of daily routines calls into question a perceived sense of progress, making hope and patience one and the same. As days go by, spinning like film reels on projection, self-reflection, awareness and engagement become the vital signs of life.

Spanish translation prepared by Ahmad Mohsen
English translation prepared by Mai Hunt and Nicolás Barbosa López; edited by Aicha Yass

Egypt (II)

Ahmad Mohsen
Unpublished, 2020

حياة صغيرة

كلٌّ في مكانه
بما في يديه
لا وقت لحزم الأمتعة
لا أمتعة
يجرف البحر الذكريات
يتسرب أصدقاء الماضي البعيدون
من بين الأصابع
تتلاشى الكلمات يومًا بعد يوم
تغيب عجلات السيارات عن رمال الشاطئ
تمتلئ الضفة بجذوع الأشجار
التي حملتها الأمواج من بلاد بعيدة
يُلقي البحر حمله
كحامل حقائب متعب آخر اليوم
الغيوم تصطف يدًا بيدٍ كل مساء
يهرب جزء من جبهة الشمس مرة كل ثلاثة أيام
يصمت كل شيء
لم تعد الطيور إلى الشاطئ عند الغروب
جاءت آخر مرة أسرابًا بعضها وراء بعض
وارتمت في الماء
كمقاتلي الساموراي المنهزمين
لم أتعلّم لغة الأمواج قبل أن تُغلق المدارس
لكنّ الماء يومئ ألا فرق
يومًا بعد يوم
معًا… سنسكن إلى الأبد.

Cada uno en su lugar
con lo que tenga en las manos
No hay tiempo para empacar equipaje
No hay equipaje
El mar arrastra los recuerdos
Los amigos del pasado se escapan entre los dedos
Las palabras desvanecen día tras día
Las ruedas de los automóviles deshabitaron la arena de la playa
La orilla es una reunión de troncos en exilio
que las olas trajeron desde países lejanos
El mar lanza su carga
como un portador de maleta cansado al final de la jornada
Las nubes se alinean mano a mano todas las tardes
Un pedazo de la frente del sol se escapa cada tres días,
se asoma diciéndonos: todavía estoy vivo!
Todo se queda en silencio
Los pájaros no volvieron a la playa a los atardeceres
La última vez vinieron en manadas unas tras otras
Y se tiraron al agua, rendidos
No aprendí el idioma de las olas antes de que cerraran los colegios
Pero el agua me susurra que no importa
Día a día
Juntos… todos reposamos para siempre…

Each person in a spot of their own
with whatever they have in their hands
There is no time to pack any luggage
There is no luggage.
The sea drags memories,
Friends from the past slip through the fingers
Words fade day after day
The print of car wheels has disappeared in the sand
The shore gathers exiled trunks
that waves have brought from distant countries
The sea throws its load
like a tired luggage carrier by the end of the day
Clouds line up hand in hand every afternoon
A piece of the sun’s temple escapes every three days,
it leans out and tells us: I’m still alive!
Everything remains silent
The birds never returned to the beach at sunset
Last time they came in flocks one after the other
And threw themselves into the water, exhausted
I didn’t learn the language of waves before schools were shut
But the water whispers to me it doesn’t matter
Day by day
Together… we will all dwell forever…

Ahmed Mohsen’s piece offers an unexpected vision of routine: time. For many, the notion of routine conjures images of activities, tasks and even mentalities. Routines offer us structure, organization and purpose in our day-to-day lives. And yet, we often overlook the most routine aspect of our lives; the passage of time is the greatest force of unchanged routine. As travelers through time, we move, progress, change and grow whether or not we have the consciousness or foresight to prepare, or as Mohsen underscores, to pack our bags for the journey. Though the passage of time may feel insurmountable as we are unable to stop or even slow it, time offers us the powerful reminder of life. 

Spanish translation prepared by Ahmed Mohsen
English translation prepared by Mai Hunt and Nicolás Barbosa López; edited by Aicha Yass


Leena Kellosalo
“Leonardo sai siivet”, Ntamo, 2015


Makaan mökin terassilla
kukkivat kuuset seuranani
Tässä valoa tulvivassa maisemassa
pureudun planetaariseen kirkkauteen
kun Raippaluodon kirkonkellot
voitelevat sunnuntaita

Aurinko putoaa rinnalle
polttaen hopeista omenariipusta
Irrotan Eevan viettelyksen kaulalta
ja pohdin synnin kihisevää olemusta
kiellettyä hedelmää
ja tuomiokellot kumisevat
Silmissä mustasiipinen välähdys:
alassyösty enkeli
kapina tuomio ja helvetintuska

Pullea paarma tekee yhdeksännen syöksyn
kohti kuumia pakaroitani
kymmenennellä pakenen saunaan
Katselen sopivaa tappoasetta
mutta kädet ovat täynnä pyhyyttä
neitseellistä messua ja aurinkoöljyä
mieli kanervissa lepattavan perhosen
Kunnioitan paarman henkeä
vaikka olen itse riistaa

Vartijani soutaa kumiveneellä
kivikkoista järveä
mustin airoin
ja taivas aukeaa kuin baldakiini


Me echo en la terraza de la cabaña
los pinos reverdecen en mi compañía
En este paisaje inundado de luz
me sujeto al fulgor planetario
mientras las campanas de la iglesia de Raippaluoto
consagran los domingos

Cae el sol en el pecho
quema el plateado medallón de manzana
Retiro la seducción de Eva del cuello
y pienso en la ardiente existencia del pecado
la fruta prohibida
y las campanas del juicio final retumban
En los ojos un relámpago de alas oscuras:
ángel derrocado
rebelión juzgamiento e infernal angustia

El robusto tábano embiste por novena vez
hacia mis nalgas calientes
a la décima huyo a la sauna
Busco el arma perfecta
una sandalia
pero las manos están llenas de santidad
misas virginales y aceite para sol
la mente en la palpitante mariposa del brezo
en el paisaje
Respeto la vida del tábano
aunque la presa sea yo

Mi guardián va en la balsa de caucho
por el pedregoso lago
con remos negros
y el cielo se abre como un baldaquino


I lie on the terrace of the cabin
in the company of flowering pines trees
in this landscape flooded with light
I hold on to the planetary brightness
while the church bells in Raippaluoto
consecrate Sundays

The sun falls on my chest
it burns the silver apple locket
I remove Eve’s seduction from my neck
thinking about the burning existence of sin
the forbidden fruit
and the doom bells toll
In my eyes a dark-winged flash of light:
overthrown angel
rebellion judgment and infernal anguish

The robust horsefly charges for the ninth time
towards my hot buttocks
on the tenth I run in the sauna
I am looking for the perfect weapon
a sandal
but my hands are full of holiness
virginal masses and oil for the sun
my mind in the landscape of a butterfly
fluttering among the heathers
I respect the horsefly’s life
although I am its prey

My guardian rows a rubber boat
through the stony lake
with black oars
and the sky opens up like a baldachin


Kirkkaana elokuun iltana
balalaikka ja laulu
mutta siitä alkaakin jo toinen tarina
siirtyminen maailmasta toiseen

tulinen häntä autokatoksessa:
hauraitten luitten riipaiseva symmetria
jota ei enää ole
ja pimeys syttyy takaisin alkuun
Kirkkaana elokuun iltana
kun aika on maisema
sovitus on
ja kaikki kalliisti maksettava
ja peikonkulta hohtaa
sammalkiven juuressa
hiljainen mies sauvakävelee
pois maisemasta
joka on


En una tarde iluminada de agosto
balalaica y serenata
pero esa ya es otra historia
el paso de un mundo a otro

La rojiza cola
de mi ardilla jardinera
sobre el techo del estacionamiento:
en sus frágiles huesos la desgarradora simetría
que ya no está
y la oscuridad se enciende de regreso al origen
En una tarde iluminada de agosto
cuando el tiempo es un paisaje
hay un acuerdo
y todo lo que debe pagarse caro
y el fuego fatuo resplandecen
en la raíz de la piedra musgosa
un hombre callado avanza con bastones
saliendo del paisaje
que hay


On a bright August evening
balalaika and serenade
but that’s another story
the passage from one world to another

The fiery tail
of the squirrel gardener
in the carport:
heartbreaking symmetry of fragile bones
that is no longer here
and the darkness ignites back to the beginning
On a bright August evening
when time is a landscape
there is an agreement
and everything that must be paid dearly
and the foxfire glows
at the root of the mossy stone
a silent man is walking with ski poles
leaving the landscape
that exists

Leena Kellosalo is a Finnish writer and poet born in Tampere. Kellosalo is an actress, master of philosophy, literature critic, literary writing teacher, and an award-winning speaker and audiobook reader. She has read her poetry at various Finnish literary festivals and events. She has published two books of poetry: Leonardo sai siivet (tr. The Wings Appeared in Leonardo), Ntamo, 2015; and, Hevosenpääsumussa (tr. In the Horse’s Cloudy Head), Ntamo, 2018. Kellosalo was bestowed the 2018 Tampere City Literature Prize for her second book of poetry also in 2018.

Kellosalo’s first poem uses routine as an entryway into a discussion of religion and predestination. In her presentation of Eden and the original sin, Kellosalo compels readers to challenge the definition of routine as a force beyond human control by encouraging an awakening of the mind and body. While the tendencies toward temptation and desire that define human existence suggest that human nature itself is a manifestation of routine, Kellosalo underscores how choice offers a powerful counterbalance to this particular vision of routine. In her second poem, choice is presented as a key element of exploration and discovery, once again highlighting the importance of engagement. 

Spanish translation prepared by Zoila Forss
English translation prepared by Nicolás Barbosa López


Zoila Forss
Unpublished, 2020

Te descubro

Recurrente esfera dentro de otra
Una desde fuera
Ninguna desde dentro
Rodar es una elección
Romper su cielo otra
Recurrente es la corriente
y esférica

El cóncavo cielo de mi jardín
Lo allano cada día
La convexa almendra de mi ser
y se arropa

Desde que fue tu turno partir
oigo tu paso detrás de las nubes
Endurece la membrana
Mi cuerpo es un aerolito más
rondando el disco del sol
Tu señal lo traspasa todo

Has de tomar una pala
y yo un pico
El suelo del recuerdo se resiste
Impenetrable es la esfera
El cascado cascarón
nos revela el mapa
que ha de unir nuestros pasos

Bajo la membrana de la luna trago aire
dejo iracundo al vacío
engullo tu promesa
vomito la mía
Caigo al oscuro agujero de esa blanca luz
Mi sangre dicta la exégesis de tu alma
No hay papel que lo aguante todo
murmura el árbol
Ni descubridor que no rompa un huevo

I Discover You

Recurring sphere within another
One from outside
None from inside
Rolling is a choice
Tearing its sky is another
The current is recurring
and spherical

The concave sky of my garden
I flatten it every day
The convex kernel of my being
and wraps itself up

Since it was your turn to leave
I hear your step behind the clouds
It hardens the membrane
My body is one more aerolite
circling the disk of the sun
Your signal runs through it all

You shall take a shovel
and I a pick
The ground of memory resists
The sphere is impenetrable
The broken-down shell
reveals to us the map
that shall unite our steps

Beneath the moon’s membrane I swallow air
I leave the void enraged
I guzzle your promise down
I vomit mine
I fall into the dark hole of that white light
My blood dictates your soul’s exegesis
There’s no paper that can bear it all
murmurs the tree
Nor discoverer that does not break an egg
I reply

Zoila Forss was born in Lima, Peru, in 1969, and started writing poetry from an early age. She has lived in Finland since 2000, where she has worked as a poet, Finnish-Spanish literary translator, teacher, and nursing assistant in Tuusula, a job that gave her the inspiration to write a series of poems dedicated to former patients. Her first collection of poems was published in a bilingual edition in 2014 by publishing house Colmena. Part of her series of poems, “Mi esencia“ has been published in Revontuli, a collection of poems that began in 1994. Her second book, Arpón sin culpa, was published in a trilingual edition by Rosetta Versos in 2018, in Finland. Imagery has frequently been part of her creative process, and in 2012 began experimenting with video-poetry. In 2020, Colombian publishing house Sílaba Editores published Zoila’s Spanish translation of the poetry of Sami writer Inger-Mari Aikio. Zoila is currently working on a bilingual anthology of Finnish poetry.

“I Discover You” follows the search for a love who no longer remains. The forces of love are the very elements that constructed the world through which the poetic voices traverses with routine-like persistence, not merely to find its love lost, but to relive the very emotions that shape the memory of passion. 

Translation prepared by Kevin Ennis



In this issue, we are introducing poems from Asia, South America, and Europe and dedicate it to sound. The most obvious implication of the theme is through a broad spectrum of perspectives. After putting the poems altogether, we realized that two common threads can be highlighted. First, sound gives life to poetry, evolves with it, and ultimately has the power to silence it. Second, sound’s permanent presence in poetry ultimately mirrors its constancy in life, playing a crucial part in the exploration of existence at its different stages.

Readers will encounter how sound in Portuguese is both corporeal and emotional, as a way to channel one’s concerns on pregnancy, motherhood, love, and fear. Whereas in Italian, sound represents the collective memory of people joined by traditions, landscapes, and a common history of memory and dialects. Similarly – yet from a completely different angle – sound in Peruvian Spanish also becomes a question of identity and a reiteration of an origin to be found through emotions. From an opposite starting point, sound in India paradoxically explores its own denial: the sound of the inanimate world; while sound in Colombian Spanish is also raised as the concern of its own destruction: what happens after silence?

On the other, some of the poems in this issue also explore the importance of sound as an inextricable formal aspect of poetry and, therefore, as an exploration of one’s own language. In Bulgarian, sound as the legacy of Symbolism becomes a synonym of repetition, memory, and meaning; while in Russian the tradition and evolution of an entire language is traced through the significance of rhyme.

Finally, this issue also proposes another interpretation of sound in poetry, with two homophonic translations from Catalan and Portuguese into Spanish and English as a way to explore the relationship between sound and meaning as well as the limits of a poem’s territory, that is, the paradox that a text’s own borders -it’s own words- are also the gaps which allow a never-ending process of rewriting.

As usual, we publish work in both the original language as well as the English translation. As we have done in previous issues, we have brought work from well-known classic writers as well as unpublished poetry from the new generations of writers across many languages. We believe that the fewer the editorial boundaries, the richer the exchange, and in order to truly become a space of pure poetry (that is, regardless of language, origin, or time), the work of young poets must be put in contact with that of classic or more traditional authors from other cultures.


Yulieth Mora

Última palabra

Nunca había sentido tanto
tanto ruido
como antes de que dijeras
la última palabra.

Desde entonces, advierto como suena
el fuego antes que se encienda
la carne veloz a punto de golpear el agua
una palma en dirección a mi mejilla.

Aunque digan que el rayo
es más rápido que el trueno
desde esa vez
yo puedo sentir el ruido antes.

Ahora todo es un escándalo
una escalera deslizándose en el borde
un plato girando en el aire
el zapato listo para pisar las hojas secas.

Ayer por ejemplo todo se hizo antes
un cristal explotó sin que la bala lo cruzara
el aguacero desgranó con apenas ver la nube negra
brilló el fragor de lo que nunca te dije
y el chasquido del beso que estuvimos por darmos.

Nunca había sentido tanto
tanto ruido
dentro mío
como al presentir
tu última palabra.

Last Word

I had never felt this much
much noise
as I did before you said
the last word.

Since then, I notice the sound
of fire before it lights
the hasty flesh about to hit the water
a palm approaching my cheek.

Though they say that lightning
is faster than thunder
since it happened
I can feel the noise first.

Now everything is scandalous
a ladder sliding on the edge
a plate spinning in the air
the shoe willing to step on dry leaves.

For instance, yesterday everything came before
the crystal burst before the bullet hit
a look at the black cloud gushed the pouring rain
the roar of what I never told you shone
along with the snap of a soon-to-be kiss.

I had never felt this much
much noise
as when I sensed
your last word.

Yulieth Mora is a journalist and writer born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1992. She belongs to one of the most recent generations of graduates from the program in Creative Writing of Universidad Central, in Bogotá, and her short story “Perro negro” (“Black Dog”) recently received an honorable mention by the Colombian Ministry of Culture. Her poem “Última palabra” (“Last Word”) proposes an imagery of sound, silence, time, and asynchrony: a last word that is said; the infinite words that, by definition, are not said after that last word; and the subsequent product of silence: the asynchrony between image, time, and sound that occurs thereafter.

One of the most conspicuous challenges in the translation of this poem is the repetition of words in the first stanza, which, itself, is a repeated stanza within the poem. The Spanish word “tanto” is a comparative adjective that does not have a single-word equivalent in English. In English, “tanto” must be translated as two words, either as an adjective or an adverb, depending on whether it refers to a time period or the quantity of something. The resonance of the first and last stanzas in the poem -one about sound, precisely- lies heavily on the repetition of this sole word, whose exact translation in English, in this case, would be “so much”. Given the difficulty of maintaining the original poem’s light sonorous effect (tanto / tanto ruido) with the repetition of a two-word clause in English (“so much / so much noise”), I opted for the adverbial sense of the word “this.” Though it adds a deictic nuance that is not originally found, this sense of the word is normally used in negative sentences, and so appropriately fits a stanza about the denial of words and future silence.

Prepared by Nicolás Barbosa López


Sandra Santos

as mães movimentam os maiores medos
como quem domestica vulcões
que se adensam pela vida
dos filhos adentro,
ressoando labaredas
torpedos titânicos;
agarrando o coração
pela corda inquietada da mulher
os filhos esgravatam rochedos
arquitectam chegar-lhe perto
em vão a vida voa
parece fugir-lhes do peito
o vagar a vontade
esgotam-se-lhes as palavras
os gestos calados
trovejando no ventre
a maravilhosa possibilidade
do amor ser um éter
amniótico caótico
habitando, maternal, a eternidade.

mothers agitate their biggest fears
as if taming volcanoes
that stiffen deep inside
the life of their children,
resonating flares
titanic torpedoes
holding the heart
by the woman’s distressed cord
the children scrape rocks
they plot an approach
and life flies in vain
like escaping from their chest
wandering at will
with words exhausted
quiet gestures
that thunder in the womb
the wonderful possibility
that love be an ether
amniotic chaotic
inhabiting, maternally, eternity.

Sandra Santos is a poet, writer, and translator from Portugal born in 1994. She holds a B.A. in Languages and International Relations from Universidade do Porto and is currently getting her Master’s degree in Editorial Studies at the Universidade de Aveiro. As a translator, she has published her work in Portugal, Spain, and Latin America, working back and forth in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Her own poetic work can be found online at:

In this poem, Santos explores the relationship between sound, motherhood, and the body. Her writing is constantly marked by the inclusion of violent interruption, both phonetic and semantically. Her verses are composed of images rather than syntactically complete sentences, thus meaning is at times more ambiguous than precise, and most verses are made up of no more than three or four words. Despite the difficulty of attaining the same level of accuracy when a word-by-word translation is not possible in most cases, the poem’s tendency toward interruption -overall- also made an English translation smoother than usual, given that the English language (more than Portuguese) allows for shorter words and beats. In other words, it was possible to maintain a similar rhythm and acoustic of briefness, sometimes even managing to replicate a word accent or syllable count (as in the last verse “habitando, maternal, a eternidade.” that becomes, also leveraged on an etymological proximity, an acoustically close “inhabiting, maternally, eternity.”).

Prepared by Nicolás Barbosa López

When Poetry, Translating And Plagiarising Collide

Poetry is more than just a string of words and phrases. Poetry is composed in order to project a meaning from the viewpoint of the poet and how he or she wants the reader to view and interpret something in the world. But many things in the world aren’t necessarily interpreted by everyone else in quite the same way. The dark, sombre environment of a forest, the activities in a busy street, or the frightening passage of a great storm, may all be viewed differently when expressed in poetry. This makes it extremely difficult for a poetry translator to find just the right words to illustrate the mood of the poet.

Continue reading “When Poetry, Translating And Plagiarising Collide”