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

Photo (CC) Brendan Lally @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Brendan Lally @ Flickr

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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ABOUT THE POET

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.

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from Issue #8: Poetry by J. Kates

Photo (CC) takomabibelot @ Flickr

Photo (CC) takomabibelot @ Flickr

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(untitled)

My lady’s pet Agàpornis,
Who sang for us all summer long
Both night and day
has flown away.
But mockingbirds around the house
Still sing the love-bird’s song.

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(untitled)

Don’t look for beauty everywhere.
Twisted concertina wire
May bring to mind a metaphor
………….Of vine and root,
But it will never bud and flower —
………….Much less fruit.

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Euphemism

No one knows
why
Boswell chose
π.

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With the gift of a book

O lucky book, that witless lies
upon my lady’s open thighs!

Unlucky book — so unaware
what luck it is to linger there!

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ABOUT THE POET

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

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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.

from Issue #4: Poetry by Mikhail Yeryomin, translated by J. Kates

Photo (CC) Antti T. Nissinen

Photo (CC) Antti T. Nissinen

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J. Kates’ translations of Mikhail Yeryomin’s Selected Poems 1957-2009 was awarded the 2013 Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation and will be published this year by White Pine Press. Here, Mikhail Yeryomin’s original Russian appears in black and J. Kates’ English translations in blue.

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Поселок (В сумерках туман подобен
Прасубстантиву: наблюдатель — « . . . пред
Святым Его Евангелием и животворящим
Крестом …» — становится свидетелем аблактировки
Инфинитива и супина.) сходство
С полузатопленным челном и средним членом
Сравненья мышц стрижа с пружиною зажима,
Забытого на бельевой веревке, обретает.

……………………………………………………………………1977

A settlement (In twilight a fog similar
To the protosubstantive: the observer — “before
His Holy Gospel and life-giving
Cross . . .” becomes a witness of the ablactation
Of the infinitive and the supine.) is a simulacrum
of a kindled canoe and the middling member
of the comparison of a martin’s muscles with an elastic clamp,
forgotten on a linen rope, found.

…………………………………………………………………….1977

 

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Повилика, прильнувшая к стеблю,
Бледный витень, чье тело длиной с его жизнь —
Дериват ли от vita? Гаплоия
Композиты из vita  и тень?
Или плеть? Аксельбант родовитого льна
Или ядопровод? Или тирса лоза? Или —
« . . . The laws impressed on matter by the Creator . . .»
Селекционерская гордость Мойр?

………………………………………………………………..1977

Гаплогия — гаплология.
Ch. Darwin, M. A. The Origin of Species.  “Recapitulation and conclusion.”

A dodder clinging tightly to its stem,
Pallid viten, a body long as its life —
Does it derive from vita? Haplogy
Compounded from vita and tenebræ?
Or a lash? An aiguilette of aristocratic flax
Or a poison duct? Or a vine of thyrsus? Or —
. . . the laws impressed on matter by the Creator…”
The selectionist pride of the three Fates?

………………………………………………………………….1977

Haplogy = haplology
Ch. Darwin, M. A. The Origin of Species.  “Recapitulation and conclusion.”

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Сомкнула веки. Не вступать, а погружаться
В сокрытый ими сад. Деревья —
Еще не алфавит, уже не древние аллеи текста.
Любовь — еще вторая изгородь. Движенье —
Уже не ноша, но еще не ниша.

Не словом открывают губы
Лучистый взгляд жемчужин
Над моим лицом.

…………………………………………………….1978

She closed her eyelids. Not to step into, but be plunged
Into a garden hidden beneath them. The trees
Not yet alphabet, now no longer ancient alleys of text.
Love is still a second hedge. Movement
No longer burdensome, but even less a burrow.

Lips do not discover with a word
The radiant appearance of pearls
Over my face.

………………………………………………………1978

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Пир августа. Азычество лампасов и лампад.
Ватрушка — в каждом угольке готовый вспыхнуть
Зеленым пламенем творожный язычок —
Подсолнуха. Стручок гороха скалит зубы,
Расколотый, изогнутый древнейшей шуткой
Равновеликости на взглял с земли
Луны и соднца. Платье юной горожанки —
Поблекший крапп, полегший лен.

…………………………………………………………..1979

Feast of August. Aborigin of trouser-stripes and icon-lamps.
Cheesecake — in each corner ready to flare up
A little cottage-cheese tongue like a green flicker —
Sunflowers. A peapod bares its teeth,
Disruptive, twisted like an ancient joke
Equivalence in looking from the earth
Moon and sun. The dress of a young townswoman —
Withering madder, flattened flax.

……………………………………………………………1979

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Следить бег низких облаков
И пресмыкание далекой электрички. Pópulus Vulgaris
Толпой (Избранничество — не искус ли?)
И вдоль дорог выстраивается. Прониккнуть
Ленотром или (Оттиск аватары
На глине или благодать?) Алкидом —
Одна двенадцатая дюжины побед —
В усадьбу Гесперид?

……………………………………………………………1985

Ленотр — Версальский парк, Фоненбло и т. д.

To follow the races of low clouds
And the reptilian crawl of a distant  train. Pópulus Vulgaris
En masse (Isn’t a referendum a temptation?)
And alongside, the construction of roads. To penetrate
By means of Le Nôtre or (The Impression of an avatar
In clay, or a blessing?) with Alcides —
One twelfth of a dozen victories —
In the Garden of the Hesperides?

…………………………………………………………….1985

Le Nôtre — The park at Versailles, Fontainebleau, etc.

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Оставив девочек в декокте мелководья, девой
Явиться из ребра вольны.
Бесследно отмель миновав, на берег
Взойти — разводистые лунки
По ситцу. Грудь и бедра
(У кончика ноги цветущий подорожник.)
Оправить вязкой сетью.
И множиться в зрачках и на устах.

………………………………………………………………………1987

Girls left in a decoction of shallows, a virgin
Emerges from the edge of a wave.
Without leaving a trace in the sand, to climb up
On the berm — discolored openings
In the chintz. Breast and thigh
(A plantain flowering at the stem of her leg,)
Set right in an intractable net.
Burgeoning deep in the eyes and on the lips.

……………………………………………………………………….1987

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Владеть устами — навык или дар,
Когда молчание билабиальней речи? Окольцовывать
(Orbicularis oris) или отвергать.
А гений, ставший на крыло
(Лазоревые кроющие перья, маховые —
Пребелые.), не зависает ли,
Быв удостоен невесомым «Ах!» меж алых семядолей,
Их разомкунувшим?

……………………………………….1992

Is it skill or a gift to govern the lips
When silence is more bilabial than speech? To band
(Orbicularis oris) or to turn away.
And genius, on the wing
(Sky-blue covering feathers beating
Blindingly white.) hovering, yes?
With an earned, weightless “Ah!” among scarlet cotyledons
It had dispersed?

………………………………………1992

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ABOUT THE POET AND TRANSLATOR

Mikhail Fyodorovich Yeryomin, born in 1936, is a poet, playwright and a translator, who saw few of his poems published in his homeland during the Soviet period. Instead, his work — consistently in eight-line stanzas rich with allusive scientific and linguistic byplay — appeared in émigré journals like Kontinent and Ekho. The first volume of his poems (in Russian) was published in the United States in 1986, and then in 1991 in Moscow. Each book is a cumulative addition to and a selection from previous work, and each carries the same title: Stikhotvorenia (Poems). In English translation, his poems have appeared in Fjords ReviewThe Hawai’i ReviewNaked PunchParthenon WestStandTwo Lines, and in the anthology In the Grip of Strange Thoughts. J. Kates’ translations of Yeryomin’s selected poems won the Cliff Becker Book Prize this year and will be published by White Pine Press in 2014. The poet lives in St. Petersburg.

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