from issue #3: Poetry by Sergio Badilla Castillo, translated by Roger Hickin and the Author (II)

Photo (CC) Tarja Mitrovic @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Tarja Mitrovic @ Flickr

*

Read the original Spanish, then the English translation in blue

*

Las ascuas de una nebulosa

Este es el centro de la galaxia que he construido con mis manos
con sus puntos cardinales alterados después de mis colapsos.
Aquí estoy entonces como una tormenta diminuta
a la hora cuando se estanca el caos bajo mis rodillas
mientras camino aún borracho por mi habitación
y cubro mis heridas en esta oscuridad celeste que me aterra
con estos hábitos de monje hermoso.
Qué remolinos arrastran viejas penas en la larga noche
y así y todo duermo con la cabeza curvada
en las nieblas de Batavia hacia el oriente.
Aquí no hay montes sólo basura atestada en los containers
animales ciegos que permutan sus encéfalos
cada madrugada sin luz entre las nubes
hombres despiertos a la espera de un autobús que ronronea
al alba como asmático.
Este es el centro de la galaxia que he construido con mis manos
y me dispongo ahora a tomar una taza de café junto a mi gato
tal si estuviera en una esquina de Drottningatan o entre los juncos
del Danubio.
Un guerrero olmeca intenta un sacrificio
revolcándose en las ascuas de una nebulosa.
No disparen contra mi hermano que fue un amigo tardío de Borges.
Las separaciones duelen como la llaga que deja una flecha
en el pecho de un colibrí
siempre hay alguien que ama y me asedia con sus besos
aunque suelo amar en los balcones y luego mis colmillos
desgarran dulcemente la presa.
Preferiría estar este domingo en casa de mis padres
escuchando rancheras
o en medio del Sahara con los Tuareg donde todos los perdidos son extraños.
Estuve en Hanoi camino al mar de la China
y vi unas princesas equivocadas lavando sus ropas en el río.
Este es el centro de la galaxia que he construido con mis manos
En este domicilio habitan ratones centenarios que escaparon
de una biblioteca sintiéndose jaguares
No será fácil reconstruir el Paraíso en una sola habitación
con la ayuda de Darwin.
Alguien tendrá que hacerse cargo de mi madre enferma
y quizá zapatee junto a tu puerta con los gitanos de una caravana de saltimbanquis.

The embers of a nebula

This is the centre of the galaxy I built with my own hands.
Since my breakdowns its cardinal points have altered.
So here I am like a tiny storm
chaos grinding to a halt beneath my knees
while I walk about my room still drunk
and in this frightening celestial darkness
wrap my wounds in the robes of a beautiful monk.
The long nights are a maelstrom of sorrows
but I manage to sleep with a twisted neck
in the Batavian mists out east.
No mountains here only containers crammed with trash
sightless creatures swapping brains
early mornings without light among the clouds
men who awaken to wait for a bus that purrs
asthmatically in the dawn.
This is the center of the galaxy I built with my own hands.
I’m about to have a coffee with my cat
as if this were a corner of Drottningatan
or somewhere by the reed beds of the Danube.
An Olmec warrior attempts a sacrifice
and rolls about on the embers of a nebula.
Do not shoot at my brother who was lately a friend of Borges.
Separations hurt like arrow wounds
in the breast of a hummingbird
there is always someone who loves and besieges me with kisses
though I tend to make love on balconies
then rend my prey with gentle fangs.
This Sunday I’d rather be at my parents’ house
listening to rancheras
or deep in the Sahara with the Tuareg where all the lost are strangers.
In Hanoi once en route to the China Sea
I saw some misguided princesses washing their clothes in the river.
This is the centre of the galaxy I built with my own hands.
Hundred-year-old mice convinced they’re jaguars
fled from a library and live at this address.
To remake Paradise with the help of Darwin
won’t be easy in a single room.
Somebody will have to care for my sick mother
and with a caravan of gypsy acrobats
perhaps I’ll tap my feet before your door.

Una calle de Upplands Väsby

                                                                 A Ricardo Donoso

En el suburbio donde vive Ricardo
los copos de nieve se derrumban como ciegos en la calle desierta.
Un fantasma toca su violín bajo el puente de la estación
con plenitud maestra.
Soy yo el que se equivoca de época de y de trenes
con estas maletas que pesan una tonelada.
Perdónenme señoras si dije algo impropio
porque es mi boca la que no calla en un imponderable silencio.
Busco a un hijo que ser extravió en su memoria
y dejó de llamarme padre
aunque la sangre es ligadura y las
distancias separan en la inmensidad de la estepa.
Me equivoco otra vez y tropiezo con una vieja sombra
entonces las congojas se desorientan
en el repaso aquiescente
y escuecen con la obviedad de una garra.
El caos se extingue cuando encuentra su equilibrio
al final del laberinto.
Me comporto con una rata que cava
su madriguera en la densa niebla.
Soy yo – insisto – el que se equivoca de época y de trenes
con estas maletas que pesan una tonelada.
Por eso hablo ahora con la impaciencia de un orate
que sujeta con sus dedos una aureola abandonada.

Suecia. Diciembre 2012

A street in Upplands Väsby

                                                        for Ricardo Donoso

In the suburb where Ricardo lives
snowflakes fall blindly in the deserted street.
A phantom violinist under the station bridge
plays with masterly intensity.
I’m the one who gets his epoch and his trains wrong
with these suitcases that weigh a ton.
Forgive me ladies if I’ve said something improper
my mouth just won’t stay shut in imponderable silence.
I’m looking for a son who got lost in his memory
and ceased to call me father
despite blood ties and
distances that divide in the steppe’s immensity.
I get things wrong again and bump into an old shadow
then in the course of stoic retrospection
erratic anxieties prick
predictably as claws.
Chaos expires when at the labyrinth’s end
it comes to equilibrium.
I behave like a rat who digs
his hole in thick fog.
I’m the one – I repeat – who gets his epoch and his trains wrong
with these suitcases that weigh a ton.
And now I speak with the impatience of a lunatic
whose fingers clutch a disused halo.

Sweden. December 2012

* * *

ABOUT THE POET AND THE TRANSLATOR

Sergio Badilla Castillo was born in Valparaíso, Chile in 1947. He studied journalism at the University of Chile and worked in various media from 1969 until 1973, when, after the Pinochet coup, he was forced into exile, first to Argentina, then to Romania, and finally in 1976 to Sweden. There he took a degree in social anthropology at Stockholm University and worked as a culture journalist on Swedish radio, travelling throughout Europe and North Africa, until returning to Chile in 1993. His publications from this period include Más debajo de mi rama (1980), La morada del Signo (1982), Cantonírico (1983), Reverberaciones de piedras acuáticas (1985) and Terrenales (1989). Publications in Chile include Saga Nórdic (1996), La Mirada Temerosa del Bastardo (2003), Poemas Transreales y Algunos Evangelios (2005), Ciudad Transreal (2009), Ok Atacama (2010). Badilla lives in Santiago where he contines to write and teach. His work has appeared with English translations in two chapbooks, La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head (2012) and Espectros y Sombras / Ghosts and shadows (2013), and in French translations by Patricio Sánchez in Ville assiégée (2010).

Roger Hickin is a New Zealand poet, visual artist, book designer and publisher.  Although he has written and translated poetry and since the late 1960s, for many years his main preoccupation was with sculpture and painting. In the early 2000s poetry began to demand more attention. His Waiting for the Transport (Kilmog Press, Dunedin) and The Situation & other poems (the initial Cold Hub Press chapbook), both appeared in 2009. Roger is the director of Cold Hub Press –  www.coldhubpress.co.nz – which publishes New Zealand poetry as well as international poetry in several languages, including So we lost paradise, a bilingual selected poems of Chilean poet Juan Cameron, and two chapbooks of poems by Sergio Badilla Castillo (in collaboration with the author).

Advertisements

Special: Roger Hickin on Sergio Badilla Castillo (Issue #3)

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr

*

Issue 3 of Contrappasso features a selection of work by Chilean poet Sergio Badilla Castillo, translated by New Zealand poet, artist and publisher Roger Hickin in collaboration with the author. Roger has written this short description of Badilla’s work especially for this blog, as a guide to his main themes and many variations.

*

Sergio Badilla Castillo (b. Valparaíso, Chile, 1947) is a poet who, to borrow Ben Belitt’s words about Pablo Neruda, “makes a discipline of . . . [his] excesses”. Such was Badilla’s talent as a young man, he was hailed as Neruda’s heir apparent, and like Neruda’s his poetry is mercurial, oneiric, protean, torrential. Like his literary forebear too, Badilla is a nomad (his real father was a sailor), a pirate whose poems are studded with vivid images and graphic incidents ransacked from the accumulated wealth of world history and culture. On a deeper level, he is a latter-day shaman who throws himself into perilous journeys to report back on the chaos at the heart of things, transmuting his observations and experiences, jostling and blending reality and myth, certainty and uncertainty, beauty and horror, in hallucinatory, “transreal” poems that disrupt the linear coherence of past, present and future, encompassing multiple dimensions and temporalities in a single parachronic glance, whose aim is ultimately the “uchronic” (cf. “utopian”) release from the tyranny of time as the salt-grain of the lyric “I” disperses with all else into the waters of eternity.

Two bi-lingual chapbooks of Badilla’s poems––La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head  and Espectros y Sombras / Ghosts and shadows, with translations by Roger Hickin and the author––have recently been published in New Zealand by Cold Hub Press, www.coldhubpress.co.nz

 *

ABOUT THE WRITER

Roger Hickin is a New Zealand poet, visual artist, book designer and publisher.  Although he has written and translated poetry and since the late 1960s, for many years his main preoccupation was with sculpture and painting. In the early 2000s poetry began to demand more attention. His Waiting for the Transport (Kilmog Press, Dunedin) and The Situation & other poems (the initial Cold Hub Press chapbook), both appeared in 2009. Roger is the director of Cold Hub Press –  www.coldhubpress.co.nz – which publishes New Zealand poetry as well as international poetry in several languages, including So we lost paradise, a bilingual selected poems of Chilean poet Juan Cameron, and two chapbooks of poems by Sergio Badilla Castillo (in collaboration with the author).

from Issue #3: Poetry by Sergio Badilla Castillo, translated by Roger Hickin and the author (I)

Photo (CC) Max Pfandl @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Max Pfandl @ Flickr

*

Read the original Spanish, then the English translation in blue

*

La noche es peligrosa en el Cairo

Me pregunto que hará Mahfuz
en su habitación (a estas horas) cuando no relumbra el sol
en sus ojos tristes.
Unos viejos barbiluengos juegan a las damas
injertados en los cuadros del tablero en el café Horiya.
Cuatro extranjeros blondos (¿alemanes?) flirtean
con unos adolescentes de tez obscura en la mesilla vecina.
Uno ríe y pide un cigarrillo a un cuarentón bronceado
que también ríe.
Es febrero del 2002 y el cosmos cuántico está allí mismo en Giza
en una tormenta de arena en el Sakkara
virtualmente en el lugar de mi nacimiento y de mi muerte.
La máscara dorada de un joven faraón me desconsuela
porque era escaso su saber sobre el hechizo de Amón
que hilvana el tiempo.
Qué hora es en este instante en El Missaha Square
cuando hipan los camellos a un costado de Cheops y la Esfinge
y los creyentes se arrodillan para alcanzar a Dios en sus plegarias.
Mohammed –el guía– se expresa en un español cáustico.
¡Qué importan las tonalidades cervantescas en medio del páramo!
La noche es peligrosa en Shubra Al Khaymah
y desvarío con las sombras
mientras los proxenetas despojan de sus ajuares a las odaliscas del templo.
¡Alá Uajbar! ¡Alá Uajbar! suenan plañideros los altavoces
desde un alminar de la Mezquita Azul.
Una vacuidad ante un Dios ausente o transitoriamente sordo.
Un pastor irreverente aventura su rebaño en medio del tráfico
entre bocinazos y gritos.
Hace frío a estas horas en la ciudad del Nilo verde.
Los muertos moran en la Citadel en un sólo condominio con los vivos.
¡Alá Uajbar! ¡Alá Uajbar! rebota el clamor de los devotos
en la Mezquita Azul desde el mismo minarete.
Vuelvo a preguntarme entonces––  qué hará Mahfuz
en su habitación (a estas horas) cuando no resplandece el sol
en sus ojos tristes.

Night is dangerous in Cairo

I wonder what Mahfouz is doing
in his room (so late) without the sun’s dazzle
in his sad eyes.
A few greybeards play checkers
planted at the boards in the Café Horiya.
At the next table four blonde foreigners (Germans?) flirt
with some dark-skinned adolescents.
One laughs and cadges a cigarette
from a tanned forty-something guy who’s laughing too.
It’s February 2002 and the quantum cosmos is right here in Giza
in a sand storm in Sakkara
in effect at the place of my birth and death.
The golden mask of a young pharaoh distresses me
so thin was his knowledge of Amon’s sorcery
which stitches time together.
What hour is it just now in El Missaha Square
as camels cough alongside Cheops and the Sphinx
and believers kneel to supplicate their God.
Mohammed –the guide– expresses himself in caustic Spanish.
Who cares about Cervantian nuances in the midst of a wasteland!
Night is dangerous in Shubra Al Khaymah
and I babble with the shades
as pimps strip the temple’s odalisques of their trousseaus.
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! is the loudspeakers’ plaintive wail
from a minaret of the Blue Mosque.
Emptiness before a God either absent or temporarily deaf.
In the thick of traffic an irreverent shepherd risks his flock
among shouts and blasting horns.
It’s cold now in the city of the green Nile.
In a single condominium in the Citadel the dead dwell with the living.
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! The clamour of the faithful
echoes in the Blue Mosque from the same minaret.
Again I wonder what Mahfouz is doing
in his room (so late) without the sun’s radiance
in his sad eyes.

* * *

Año del reptil

No recuerdo cuantos hijos tuve
ni cuantos infantes perdí en esa guerra.
Si la luz perdura entonces soy una sombra que no existe.
Estamos a fines de mayo en el año de la lagartija
cuando el otoño me enciende la mirada
al tropezar con la turgencia de tus pechos sarracenos.
Las cenizas caen de la noche luego de desertar del fuego
mientras deambulo como un fugitivo por estas calles de Agnefit.
El infinito es una matriz en incansable ensanchamiento
como el hijo que navega silencioso en tus abismos.
No recuerdo cuando hijos tuve
ni cuantos infantes perdí en esa guerra.
Allí / por qué callarlo /  se asomaba el paria manilargo
con su morral repleto de serpientes y parábolas
y entre las murallas un francotirador
apuntaba su rifle buscando mi cabeza
con escrupulosa precisión
para que no escuchara sus pasos.
Si las sombras murmuran entonces soy un fuego que se extingue.

Year of the reptile

I‘ve forgotten how many children were mine
how many infants I lost in that war.
If the light persists I’m a shadow without reality.
We’re at the end of May in the year of the lizard
and autumn inflames my gaze as it collides
with your lavish Saracen breasts.
Ash has abandoned the fire and falls from the night
as I wander, fugitive, these streets of Agnefit.
Infinity is a relentlessly expanding matrix
like the child who sails silent in your depths.
I’ve forgotten how many children were mine
how many infants I lost in that war.
Over there / why keep quiet about it / the lewd-fingered pariah would turn up
with his bagful of snakes and parables
and within the walls a sniper
taking care to make no sound
aimed his rifle at my head.
If the shadows whisper then I‘m a dying fire.

* * *

ABOUT THE POET AND THE TRANSLATOR

Sergio Badilla Castillo was born in Valparaíso, Chile in 1947. He studied journalism at the University of Chile and worked in various media from 1969 until 1973, when, after the Pinochet coup, he was forced into exile, first to Argentina, then to Romania, and finally in 1976 to Sweden. There he took a degree in social anthropology at Stockholm University and worked as a culture journalist on Swedish radio, travelling throughout Europe and North Africa, until returning to Chile in 1993. His publications from this period include Más debajo de mi rama (1980), La morada del Signo (1982), Cantonírico (1983), Reverberaciones de piedras acuáticas (1985) and Terrenales (1989). Publications in Chile include Saga Nórdic (1996), La Mirada Temerosa del Bastardo (2003), Poemas Transreales y Algunos Evangelios (2005), Ciudad Transreal (2009), Ok Atacama (2010). Badilla lives in Santiago where he contines to write and teach. His work has appeared with English translations in two chapbooks, La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head (2012) and Espectros y Sombras / Ghosts and shadows (2013), and in French translations by Patricio Sánchez in Ville assiégée (2010).

Roger Hickin is a New Zealand poet, visual artist, book designer and publisher.  Although he has written and translated poetry and since the late 1960s, for many years his main preoccupation was with sculpture and painting. In the early 2000s poetry began to demand more attention. His Waiting for the Transport (Kilmog Press, Dunedin) and The Situation & other poems (the initial Cold Hub Press chapbook), both appeared in 2009. Roger is the director of Cold Hub Press –  www.coldhubpress.co.nz – which publishes New Zealand poetry as well as international poetry in several languages, including So we lost paradise, a bilingual selected poems of Chilean poet Juan Cameron, and two chapbooks of poems by Sergio Badilla Castillo (in collaboration with the author).