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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Contrappasso, Issue #6 – launching in September 2014

Cover image "DSC02603" (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

Cover image “DSC02603” (CC) Vincent Lou @ Flickr, altered from original

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New Issue. New Authors. Contrappasso 6 is launching soon! This issue explores still more possibilities in international writing, bringing together work from nine countries in four languages, by more than twenty authors who are appearing in the journal for the first time.

Their work leads from snowy streets in Montana to packed train stations in Tokyo, from Hong Kong horse races to Sicilian passion-plays, from the Coal River Valley to Manila shopping malls, and from an iron lung to The Raft of the Medusa.

This issue features interviews with Australian poet Judith Beveridge, veteran American crime writer Lawrence Block and Filipino novelist Jose Dalisay. It presents new fiction by Japanese novelist Mitsuyo Kakuta (translated by Aoi Matsushima), Chilean Álvaro Bisama (translated by Megan McDowell) and from the USA, Jon A. Jackson and R. Zamora Linmark. The poets are Elizabeth Smither, Iain Britton and Stephen Oliver (New Zealand), Flora Delalande (France), Penny Florence (UK), Ouyang Yu (China/Australia) and Richard James Allen, Stuart Barnes, Jamie Grant, Siobhan Hodge, Frank Russo and Les Wicks (Australia).

Watch this website to sample the work this all-new ensemble of writers. They travel far.

The Editors

 

 

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

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Alexander Torrenegra @ Flickr

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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.

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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

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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

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Read the original Spanish, then the English translation in blue

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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.

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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.

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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).