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In Solomon's mind, not wanting and not knowing form part of a much larger question about the world in which he finds himself.

José Saramago


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Sunday, May 26th, 2013

at the MoMA

-- Compadre, usted es un bárbaro, pinta como tuviera un ojo en la luna y el otro in Marte. Su pintura no me gusta, pero me ha hecho llorar y las lágrimas son la sangre del alma.

Salvador Suárez to Jackson Pollock (from "Lavender Mist" by Marta Aponte Alsina)

posted evening of May 26th, 2013: 1 response
➳ More posts about La casa de la loca

La casa de la loca

Two interesting articles with regards to La casa de la loca y otros relatos por Marta Aponte Alsina: El cuento puertorriqueño a finales de los noventa: sobre casas de locas en Marta Aponte Alsina y verdaderas historias en Luis López Nieves by Dra. Rita De Maeseneer of the University of Antwerp; and "La loca de la casa" de Marta Aponte Alsina: reinvenciones románticas de un canon fundacional by Carmen M. Rivera Villejas of the University of Puerto Rico.

posted evening of May 26th, 2013: Respond
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Saturday, June first, 2013

At the MoMA

Marta Aponte Alsina's story "Lavender Mist (1955)" tells the story of Salvador Suárez, a relatively unknown Puerto Rican painter of landscapes and farmers, visiting the Museum of Modern Art.

Here is a list of the the works Mr. Suárez encounters in his visit to the museum (plus two works not in the museum, which he thinks about, and one work not in the museum or in the story, but painted by the man on whom Mr. Suárez is ostensibly modeled):

posted afternoon of June first, 2013: 1 response

Monday, June 10th, 2013

La casa de la loca

My latest translation project is the story "Lavender Mist (1955)", from La casa de la loca. An exciting project, and I'm close to finished with it; I'm planning to submit this story to Asymptote journal's Close Approximations contest.

This book is another that I bought on the strength of its cover illustration -- Rafael Trelles' painting "El suceso inesperado" (The Unexpected Event) pulled me right in. Contents:

  1. "The Madwoman's House (1915)" -- Rosario Diaz, widow of the author Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, works on an unfinished story of her husband's.
  2. "Glen Island (1900)"
  3. "Black House (1904)"
  4. "A Few Prosaic Lines (1915)" -- a woman sews clothing to support her family and writes (and translates!) poetry on pieces of a cardboard box.
  5. "Lavender Mist (1955)" -- Salvador Suárez visits the MoMA.
  6. "Birds of the Soul (1963)" -- After he was released from prison, Nathan Leopold ended his days as a birdwatcher in the Caribbean. Here he writes about the Paloma Sabanera (Columba Inornata Wetmorei), the final entry in his Checklist of Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  7. "Coconut Milk (1988)" -- A sort of repulsively smug New Yorker named Thomas Smith describes his travails in attempting to reproduce a recipe from Puerto Rican Desserts: An Illustrated Cooking Tour of our New Possession by Rose Kilmer (1900), given him by his uncle William.
  8. "The Poison Pen (1999)" -- Nurse Belisa Weaver, daughter of an Irish man and a Puerto Rican woman and mother of an estranged son, tries to make some money for her retirement by connecting couples seeking to adopt with pregnant young women.
  9. "The Green Man's Interlude (20--)"
The final section of the book is "Fragments of a Novel" about a young man who kidnaps people to steal their experiences. Tantalizingly pretty but very difficult to follow.

posted evening of June 10th, 2013: Respond
➳ More posts about Translation

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Back-translation

Heaven is what I cannot reach!
The apple on the tree,
Provided it do hopeless hang,
That "heaven" is, to me.

The color on the cruising cloud,
The interdicted ground
Behind the hill, the house behind, --
There Paradise is found!
Kind of an interesting problem -- when an English work is quoted in translation in a Spanish text I'm translating, I normally would quote from the original in my translation, if it's available -- doing anything else seems a bit perverse.

But the situation in "Versos pedestres (1915)" ("A Few Prosaic Lines (1915)"), from La casa de la loca, is a bit unusual. At the end of the story, the narrator writes out her translation of the 8 lines above ("which my handwriting, as erratic as my writing, transforms into 9") on a piece of cardboard. To quote from the original would be not to acknowledge the story. The original would be out of place here.

Lo que no alcanzo es el Cielo.
La fruta que el árbol
ofrece sin esperanza
el Cielo es para mí.

El color que en la nube vagabunda pasa
el suelo a mis plantas prohibido
detrás de los montes,
más alla de la casa,
¡Me espera el Paraíso!

Cannot ignore the original either of course; it has an important role in the story. But the back-translation should sound like the translation, not like the original. (And is it a "good translation"? I'm not sure -- I don't think I get the same sense from reading it as I get from the original; but I have never been very good at understanding Emily Dickinson's poetry. So am probably not the best judge.)

posted evening of June 11th, 2013: 1 response
➳ More posts about Writing Projects

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Patrone de las causas urgentes y justas

A few lines from Marta Aponte Alsina's "Glen Island (1900)" . A prayer to Expeditus, the patron saint of urgent causes:

The days do not have 24 hours -- what you do today you will atone tomorrow, what today you seek will be bestowed on you tomorrow -- sometimes it will not even be your turn. The only speedy saint is San Expedito. ....

Do not envy the lion his mane, nor the untamed colt
his skull; nor yet the brawny
hippopotamus his enormous loin
Who prunes the bushy branches of the Baobab,
Roars at the wind.

posted evening of June 13th, 2013: 2 responses
➳ More posts about Projects

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

The Tin Man's Lament

divídeme por favor
exactamente por el medio
despégame con tus manos la piel
y arranca los huesos
con tus dedos
es mi carne, cómela, digo,
pero déjame por favor la sangre.

sepárame por supuesto
de todo conocido
llevaré en cubos la sangre
mi sangre olorosa mientras busco
corazón
(y ¿cómo vas llevarlos sin huesos? preguntas y te pido permiso)
y hacemos viajes y aventuras sobre continentes
obscenos y ridículos

posted morning of June 29th, 2013: 3 responses
➳ More posts about Poetry

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Chestnut smoke

Today I am submitting my translation of Marta Aponte's story "1955: Lavender Mist" (edited by Scott Esposito) to the Close Approx­imations contest. I want to thank Marta for the story, which is magnificent, and for her readings and corrections of my translation; also to thank Scott for his invaluable suggestions which (IMO of course) have turned a good translation into a great one -- I am billing the piece as translated by me in collaboration with Scott. Very excited -- I could imagine this story being selected; and if that does not happen, as of course it may well not, I believe it will be relatively easy to find another publisher. Beautiful images abound in this story; here is one of my favorites. Señor Suárez is in the vestibule of the unfamiliar Museum of Modern Art, making his way to the exhibit whose opening he has been invited to:

Outside, the chestnut smoke was thickening, the space seeming to gain in scope what it lost in sharpness. It gave the impression of a canvas that you've covered with a layer of gray paint, in hopes that from the stillness of this interior, from the depths of this lake will burst forth some new, some unexpected creation. Something fashioned from the shards of memory, which darken and fade but are never lost; which will take you by surprise as they now took him by surprise, looking down at his orphan hands, blue and knotty. He might have fallen useless at the feet of these barbaric columns, had he not suddenly overheard someone saying the name — it was like a change of scenery coming in from the wings — of Pollock; had he not seen the two women walking, with the assurance of sturdy windmills, toward the elevator.

posted morning of July 5th, 2013: 2 responses

Aquí que tengas tinta y secante
pluma negra de cuervo ya largo tiempo
muerto a tu naciemiento
pido
pido que me escribas
a mí
me dice
tus relatos complicados y lejos
de aquí
tus pretextos más
bien hechos
que tendría a leer
algo divertido
algo
últimamente
sin sentido.

posted evening of July 5th, 2013: 4 responses
➳ More posts about Versos Aponteños

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Otra vez lectura: Versos Aponteños

interpretación de unas líneas de La loca de la casa. Esos versos y los del lamento del Tin Man se complementan.

Ay mi amor; las heridas de una viuda joven cortan lo más profundas.

sus experimentos clasificaba
especímenes
como mariposas clavadas cada en su caja
un museo de entomología
necropelógico
y

cambiaba segura y tranquila
los corredores de su
imaginación
de él

posted afternoon of July 19th, 2013: 1 response

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