Monday, November 17th, 2014
— My friend, you are a barbarian. You paint as if one eye were on the moon and the other on Mars. I don't like your work; but you have made me weep. And tears are the blood of sincerity. Cool -- two publications in a row of Marta Aponte Alsina translations! A story I translated last year is included in the November issue of The Acentos Review -- 1955: Lavender Mist.
Monday, January 20th, 2014
I have been translating two stories told in the first person recently -- "Power", by Javier Sáez de Ibarra (from Bulevar), is one that I did a pretty fast rough draft of several months ago and just recently revised -- it is narrated by a factory worker who is trying to project an unwanted level of intimacy with his titular co-worker; and "A few prosaic lines" by Marta Aponte (La casa de la loca) is the story (still not totally sure I have this straight) of the wife of a poet in a village outside of San Juan,
An interesting comparison between these two is how strongly I have to twist my sense of identity to say "I" like I mean it -- I find it quite easy to identify with the "I" in Power's "friend"'s story -- less so with the poet's wife on a personal level. With her I have a hard time finding a personal center; and yet the voice of this story is attractive to me as well. The story's climactic moment is a translation of Emily Dickinson being written onto the soles of her husband and son's shoes!
Tonight, when they walk into the club, my two men will be treading, without knowing it, on a few words stolen from the yankee poetess...
Friday, August second, 2013
Kind of flabbergasted that I have never encountered any mention of Glen Island amusement park in the writings of Thomas Pynchon -- it seems utterly implausible that the Chums of Chance (for instance) would never have paid a visit.
A stone's throw from David's Island, which was devoted entire to the Army post, was Glen Island. This wooded islet had been rented, for the purpose of exhibiting little colonies of foreign people, by a good old sport, who confided to me that he liked champagne when it wasn't too "corky," and who had spent his whole life up to his present ripe age in exhibiting pretty girls and tickling the American palate with new and outlandish sensations. One year he would have Eskimos living in glass huts frosted to look like ice, with real Eskimo dogs and sleds; another, he would show a community of Hottentots, as unclothed as New York laws would tolerate, with their round straw huts and African drums. And lo and behold! this year he had imported and exhibited, alongside of a group of Sioux Indians living as they lived, a colony of Puerto Ricans, living as they lived, in their little thatched houses, and making the so-called "panama" hats. These jíbaros were from Cabo Rojo, a coast town noted for the excellent straw hats made there for a century or so. And they ALL had hookworm.
A most intimate friendship sprang up between the young military doctor and these homesick sons and daughters of Borinquen, who were perfectly delighted to find someone who could speak to them in their own tongue, and to whom they could complain —for the jíbaro loves to complain. They were useful to me not only as sources for a continuation of my study, but also as living examples of this new disease, on which I now was asked to discourse at Me annual meeting of the Westchmer County Medical Society. I did so; and no detail was missing—even the sacred eggs were brought into the glaring sunlight of New York's sophistication.
Friday, July 19th, 2013
"Nunca serás escritora" se dijo
Siempre anda hablandose sabes
y es insana
y tú también
en cualquier modo u otro
en cualquier modo que quieras tomarlo
que necesites esto
esta expresión que resuena
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
como mariposas clavadas cada en su caja
un museo de entomología
cambiaba segura y tranquila
los corredores de su
Friday, July 5th, 2013
Aquí que tengas tinta y secante
pluma negra de cuervo ya largo tiempo
muerto a tu naciemiento
pido que me escribas
tus relatos complicados y lejos
tus pretextos más
que tendría a leer
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.
Saturday, June 29th, 2013
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
(y ¿cómo vas llevarlos sin huesos? preguntas y te pido permiso)
y hacemos viajes y aventuras sobre continentes
obscenos y ridículos
Thursday, June 13th, 2013
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.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
Heaven is what I cannot reach!
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.
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!
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.)
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