from Issue #8: Poetry by Alicia Aza, translated by J. Kates

Photo (CC) Brendan Lally @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Brendan Lally @ Flickr


Read Alicia Aza’s original Spanish, then J. Kates’ English translations in blue.



La golondrina merodea entre el magnolio

En la penumbra de los días
se desvanece lo vivido
en los misteriosos susurros
lento marchitar de las flores.
Tus labios, sépalos robustos
que dulcifican la sonrisa
de un cáliz poseedor de néctar,
se condensan en mi memoria.
Mientras me esfuerzo en ser corola
alentadora de suspiros
muestro los colores de un ave
cuyo nombre tú me ensañaste.
Negro, azul, blanco, trilogía
de la noche aterida y mansa
cuando sólo es una mañana
apaciguada de domingo.

The swallow swoops among the magnolia

In the twilight of days
animation vanishes
in mysterious whispers
a slow withering of flowers.
Your lips, robust sepals
that sweeten the smile
of a calyx filled with nectar,
tighten in my memory.
While I strive to be a corolla
encouraging sighs,
I show off the colors of a bird
whose name you taught me.
Black, blue, white, trilogy
of a quiet and frozen night
when it is only a Sunday
morning at peace.




Las sendas del olvido

     (Der Hölle Rache)

La gota de té desdibuja
las letras que me nombran a Montaigne.

Y me hablas de un anhelo
como la gota aclara
el rojo que discurre
por el libro de lágrimas
que ha de quemar mi rostro.

Canta la Reina de la Noche.

Y así comienza otra mañana
que haré cruzar hacia el olvido.

Paths of oblivion

       (Der Hölle Rache)

The drop of tea blurs
the letters that read Montaigne to me.

And you are telling me about a longing
as the drop clarifies
the red that runs
through the book of tears
that will burn my face.

The Queen of the Night is singing.

And so begins another morning
I’ll cross over into oblivion.




Restos de un alga

(Nelly Sachs pasea por la playa en Malmö)

Las vueltas de la vida van y vienen
las busco, me doblegan, me perturban
bailo con ellas, me abrazan y escapan.

Agitadas regresan de las rocas
con una turbulencia indefinida
de ardientes espirales que traicionan.

Fluyen mareas en la dulce noche
del renovado bosque de armonía,
y el frescor reconforta y nos seduce
como ríos de quietudes afligidas.

El cielo gris del mar bravío
tienta a las olas en la orilla
de los límites de mi esencia.

Busca mis peces de colores
pósate en mi cálida arena
girando alrededor del ancla
que firme me amarra a la vida.

Remains of seaweed

(Nelly Sachs walks along the beach in Malmö)

The turns of life come and go
I look for them, they twist back and torment me
I dance with them, they embrace me and flee.

They come back in a lather from the rocks
with an indefinite turbulence
of treasonous fiery spirals.

The tides ebb and flow in the sweet night
of a renewed woodland harmony,
the fresh air comforts and seduces us
like rivers of distressed quiet.

The gray sky of the rough sea
tempts the waves on the shore
of the limits of my being.

Seek out my fish of many colors
rest in my warm sand
circling around the anchor
that moors me safely to life.




El silencio de un lirio blanco

En el silencio de una noche
señora de dos lunas propias
nuestras palabras alumbraban
un luminoso lirio blanco.

Otro silencio nuevo acude
a nombrarme con el mutismo
de unas viejas botas expuestas
con sucios cordones y pliegues
que desprenden aroma usado.

Todo remite a narraciones
con protagonistas ausentes.

Me convertiste en personaje
y con la calma del silencio
pude aprender ante el espejo
la dicción de aquel lirio blanco.

The silence of a white lily

In the silence of one night
mistress of two appropriate moons
our words have illuminated
a luminous white lily.

Another new silence turns
to naming me with the wordlessness
of some old boots gaping
with dirty laces and creases
that reek of second-hand.

Everything goes back to stories
with absent heroes.

You turned me into a character
and with calm of silence
in front of a mirror I was able to learn
the way that white lily speaks.




ALICIA AZA is a lawyer and a poet, born in 1966 and living in Madrid, who has published three books: El Libro de los árboles (2010) which was a finalist for the Andalusia Critics award; El Viaje del invierno (2011) which won the “Rosalia de Castro” International Poetry award;  and Las Huellas fértiles (2014).

J. KATES is a poet and literary translator who lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.

New Double Issue launch on 10 April!

Contrappasso Double Issue, April 2015

Contrappasso Double Issue, April 2015


Roll camera…

Contrappasso starts its 4th year with a DOUBLE ISSUE.

Writers at the Movies, edited by Matthew Asprey Gear and guest Noel King, brings together many kinds of artists who have been captivated by film: its imagery, history, personalities and political edge. Across essays, fiction, poetry, interviews and photography, the contributors are James Franco, Emmanuel Mouret, Sarah Berry, Barry Gifford, Michael Atkinson, Luc Sante, R. Zamora Linmark, Richard Lowenstein, Anthony May, Michael Eaton, Jon Lewis, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Scott Simmon, Clive Sinclair and the late, great Richard Hugo.

Companion issue Contrappasso #8 takes the journal’s adventures in international writing further and wider, with its biggest selection of new fiction and poetry, from nine countries.

There’s an interview with Filipino authors F. H. Batacan and Andrea Pasion-Flores, plus stories by Pasion-Flores, US authors Rick DeMarinis and Kent Harrington and, in a Contrappasso first, a long-overdue translation of Argentine modernist author Roberto Arlt (with translator Lucas Lyndes)…

…plus the most poetry in any Contrappasso issue, with work by Nicaragua’s Blanca Castellón (translated by New Zealand’s Roger Hickin), Spain’s Alicia Aza (translated by J. Kates), China’s Lu Ye and Geng Xiang (translated by Ouyang Yu), New Zealand’s Kerrin P. Sharpe and Mary Macpherson, the UK’s Bill Adams and Richard Berengarten, the USA’s Floyd Salas and J. Kates, and Australia’s Elias Greig, Philip Hammial, Travis McKenna, Sascha Morrell, Tony Page, Sarah Rice, Frank Russo, Page Sinclair, Alex Skovron, Paolo Totaro, Lyn Vellins, Luke Whitington – and one of the last poems by the late, much-missed Morris Lurie.

This Contrappasso DOUBLE ISSUE presents the most writers so far, across the widest range of fields.

And… cut.