Foreword

 

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 As we have done in previous issues, we have brought work from well-known classic writers as well as unpublished poetry from the new generations of writers across many languages.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.

Colombia

Yulieth Mora
2017

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
inside
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

Portugal

Sandra Santos
2017

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: http://sandrasantos-ss.blogspot.pt/.

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”