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Uruguay: Don’t Look Away

By Forrest Gander

india%20II.jpg
Melisa Machado
For many of the people reading this website, the three best-known poets from Uruguay might be Comte de Lautréamont (born Isador Lucien Ducasse in Montevideo, 1846), Jules Supervielle (born in Montevideo in 1884), and Kent Johnson (lived in Montevideo 1961-1971 and in 1978), three men who gained renown after leaving Uruguay and writing in languages other than Spanish.
Machado%2C%20Lautreamont-1.jpg
Kent Johnson as a youth in Montevideo


But women figure prominently among Uruguay’s great poets, from Delmira Agustini to Juana de Ibarbourou to Ida Vitale who is still writing. Unfortunately, there have been very few English translations of their work. A young poet, critic, and translator, S. M. Stone, is changing that by translating what will be the only full-length English collection of a Spanish-language Uruguayan poet.
Stone%2C%20Sarah.jpgS. M. Stone
Below, you can find selections of Stone’s translation of El lodo de la estirpe
 (Artefacto, 2005)/Mud of Lineage
 by Melisa Machado, a young poet, journalist, and art critic born in Durazno and living in Montevideo). For publication here, I’ve made cuts in the long poem, damaging its texture (but hopefully whetting your appetite for more). If you want to see the poem in Spanish or the rest of the translation, I’ve provided links to Machado’s blog and Stone’s contact information.
II.
I would row with you brother,
turn toward you without dead or apples.
With a child’s fingers and crumbs of bread
I’d dump your body on soft dirt.
There’d be no wave of stone,
only your skin luminous as a dog’s back
and its brilliant wet shining jaws.
The moss of my breath would grow springy
threads at your feet,
thick tapestry for your Adam’s apple.
III.
I’ll cover my feet with oil,
strip myself of ornaments.
Are you astonished by my smooth body,
my crowded heart?
And when you untie the strings,
you’ll see lying at my feet the cutest pet:
bowls to dip your fingers in.
V.
He was imperially macho
and to each ass cheek would give a little dimple,
his ferocious teeth breaking bra straps
spewing crumbs.
“The better to eat you with,” he said.
—The courtship was elegant, decadent—
Hands grabbed at languid,
fitful honeys.
And if it didn’t seem like much, so what?
Like newly bathed puppies
clean, soft
we surfaced,
my petticoats lifted by the water.
VIII.
“Beautiful Lucifer with reins on,
mother of cruel cubs.
These are your limited goods:
words of sand,
scratches from a feather.
You’ll eat sour bread now,
drink salty wind.
Without water to calm your thirst,
or a stone to cradle.”
IX.
We kept the salt from your eyes in amphoras,
set them in a safe place.
We aged liquids spilled for the family,
worthy substances like milk,
blood
and even semen.
Nothing foul-smelling, nothing that would stain our stock.
Vessels with exquisite nectars, honeys and familiar oils.
Wineskins full of sweat, collected on unrepeatable occasions:
incest, weddings, births, vampire nights….
*
Some offered exquisite breads
bathed in rich sauces, bright like children.
And the women gave birth to dark litters
like the great wall of torment,
feverish women who lashed men’s arms
to the foot of their bed.
And there weapons and coins would rest
while new members of the lineage were being added.
Melisa Machado Blog and contact: Machado Blog
S. M. Stone contact: SMStone@Berkeley.edu

Comments (20)

  • On November 25, 2008 at 9:05 am Don Share wrote:

    Ah, Supervielle. It’s strange that there’s so little of his work available in English beyond a few short and aging selecteds and an expensive academic tome or two. I know that Moniza Alvi is assembling a whole book of her versions of Supervielle for Bloodaxe – but why isn’t this poet better represented on English-language shelves??

  • On November 25, 2008 at 9:30 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    I don’t think I’ve ever before been put in the same company with Lautreamont. I’d say it’s about time.
    But seriously, Forrest has spaced-out including Jules Laforgue (so important to Eliot and others), also originally of Uruguay. As I write, somewhat archaically, in a piece scheduled to appear early next year:
    “…So Supervielle, dear friend of Rilke and Michaux, loved by Celan, a man whom nigh everyone thinks of as inly Frenchman, is native Uruguayan. And you know what? So are Lautréamont and Laforgue, both born in Montevideo. Wisteth that, peradventure? Hardly anyone in these parts does. Little Uruguay, country with a tail of straw, home of three giant poets at the core of modern French poetry and beyond…”
    Forrest and I were in Uruguay and Argentina last December, where he chose to spend his time drinking in seedy tango bars and doing interviews with fawning reporters, while I was pounding the pavement doing research for an anthology of post-WWII Uruguayan poetry. I’m working on this with the assistance of Roberto Echavarren, one of Uruguay’s greatest poets, and Amir Hamad, one of the country’s foremost literary critics. So the collection is sure to be representative. Machado will be in the book.
    Forrest is absolutely right about the prevalence of women poets in Uruguay. There may be no other nation in the world, in fact, where such a dominant percentage of women hold sway in the canon. One poet to note here, whom almost no one has heard of yet in these parts, but who is increasingly regarded as one of the most spectacular and strange Latin American poets of the past fifty years, is the recently-late Marosa di Giorgio, whose prose-poetry fables are gorgeous and mind-boggling, and in often disturbing ways. In the past decade, or so, her popularity among Spanish-language readers has skyrocketed. When I was in Montevideo, I spoke with her sister and executor, who told me that Pedro Almodovar had just weeks before begun discussions with her for a film based on di Giorgio’s work. The fine poet and translator Susan Briante will be translating her for the anthology. Who knows? Susan may become wealthy.
    Viva Uruguay, pais de la cola de paja.
    Kent

  • On November 25, 2008 at 12:13 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    And as I say to my students, always proofread before sending to the Comment Box at the Harriet blog.
    :~)
    Kent

  • On November 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm Kristen Hanlon wrote:

    I’d like to put in a plug here for Liz Henry, a poet and translator in Redwood City who has done some wonderful translations of South American women poets. I published four of her translations of Juana de Ibarbourou in the 2007 print edition of XANTIPPE (which is still available, poets may feel free to contact me at xantippemag at yahoo dot com if interested in obtaining a copy.) Liz also maintains a blog at http://liz-henry.blogspot.com/.

  • On November 25, 2008 at 2:47 pm Aldo Mazzucchelli wrote:

    Great to see Mel out there. It is true that women have been always relevant within Uruguayan poetry (Delmira Agustini, Marosa, and maybe Circe Maia and Amanda Berenguer too). Probably unrelated, but it is worth mentioning that Uruguay was the first country in LA in approving divorce only by will of the wife (1913) and Delmira Agustini was, certainly, the first woman divorcing by that law, in 1914 (her ex.husband, with whom she remained secret lover, killed her and committed suicide some months later).
    But there is someone not mentioned who has been even more relevant to world poetry. Probably the most important Uruguayan poet writing in Spanish language was Julio Herrera y Reissig (1875-1910). Last week I noticed, by chance, that Yale Literary Dictionary -to quote someone, anyway- says that he was the best modernista in Latin America -an opinion that several critics of Lat American poetry would probably confirm. At least, he is readable still today, and for sure one of the most influential in other big poets after him (concretely César Vallejo acknowledged his direct influence, also Pablo Neruda, and through Neruda, Rafael Alberti, Lorca, etc.). Rubén Darío, Borges, Alberti, and many others have written about him. Very difficult to translate him without significant lost of poetry. In any case… Thanks for this, the translation of Melisa’s poetry is awesome :)
    Aldo Mazzucchelli

  • On November 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm Kent Johnson wrote:

    Don,
    And someone needs to translate Supervielle’s fabulous short novel, El hombre de las pampas, which is set in a land much like Uruguay. Magical Realism on steroids, about forty years before the Boom…
    Kent

  • On November 25, 2008 at 3:25 pm Forrest Gander wrote:

    Herrera y Reisig is spectacular. I translated a few of his poems for BOMB magazine and for the Oxford Anthology of Latin American Poetry– has that come out yet?– edited by Cecila Vicuna. Forget the famous “agony” of translation; it was methamphetaminate fun. That Supervielle novel Kent mentions, El hombre de las pampas, sounds a lot like a Cesar Aira novel which has been translated into English by Chris Andrews as An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter and concerns a painter who, convinced of Alexander von Humboldt’s theories of “landscape physiognomy,” heads into the Argentine pampas for astonishing and strange interractions that alter his body and being. I remember talking to Aira in Buenos Aires about his book when Kent showed up of course interrupting us to blather on, as ever, about some piddling experience he had just had involving running into an old friend. And I received an email from Aira recently, almost a year later, in which he said he just finished a novel, this is the truth, based on Kent’s anectdote. But all of this is a distraction from Melisa’s poetry which, for me, carries the day and the entry.

  • On November 26, 2008 at 10:43 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    Well, that the great Cesar Aira has written a novel that is based on a story I told him one day is certainly a major “event” in my life.
    I will tell the story that I told Aira that warm December afternoon, as Forrest and I sat with him last December, at a sidewalk cafe in Viejo Palermo, Buenos Aires. It is important that the reader understand that what I am about to tell is absolutely true. Indeed, there are witnesses to vouch for me.
    Well, the night before, Forrest and I had given a reading hosted by Reynaldo Jimenez and the editors of Tse Tse, one of the greatest literary presses of Latin America. It was a small, intimate affair. I read horribly, but then we climbed up to Reynaldo’s roof and looked at the moon through a telescope, and the brilliant young video artist Leticia El Halli Obeid, who has translated one of my books, Lyric Poetry after Auschwitz, which is coming out in Argentina sometime next year, I think, took her eye from the eyepiece and smiled at me: “Let’s get together for lunch tomorrow. I know a great old cafe in Palermo that you will love!”
    The next day I combed my hair and walked out of the pension, saying goodbye to Paco, the owner, a magnetic, handsome guy, maybe 28 or 29, with whom I’d been up half the previous night in the garden, drinking wine and talking about Borges, whose work he knew up and down. Goodbye, Kent, have a nice afternoon! he said.
    So I met Leticia at the cafe, which is called El Gallego, named after the legendary octogenarian owner who has run the place since he took over from his father in the 1950s, as Leticia told me, as we sat at a sidewalk table, under a rolled up awning. And as we talked, El Gallego shuffled out and began to unroll, with a crank handle, the awning above us, for the early afternoon sun was getting strong. And just as he did this a young man pulled up on his bike three feet away from us and hopped off, ready to lock it to the lamp post, and at that exact moment (for there had been a brief but violent summer downpour very early that morning) a tremendous cascade of water came pouring down out of the awning, soaking this young man thoroughly and making him cry out in surprise. He looked at Leticia and Leticia looked at him. PACO! she shouted out. LETICIA! shouted the young man. And they rushed toward each other and embraced and kissed on the cheeks and laughed and laughed. And I said PACO! KENT! he yelled, for yes, this was the same Paco, the owner of the pension, with whom I’d been up half the night drinking and talking about The Garden of Forking Paths. WHAT?! said Leticia. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS! I said. WHAT?! said Paco. etc.
    And El Gallego looked at me and chuckled, and said, Ah, yes, these things have been happening here since 1887…
    And so, when we all calmed down just a little bit, I came to learn, as they held hands and joyously explained, that Leticia and Paco had been boyfriend and girlfriend in high school, and later, even after they had broken up, dear friends, though the years had gone by, and they had lost touch with each other, each often wondering where the other might be, and what had become of him or her, until now, on this morning, when a cascade of water had come rushing down upon Paco, from this awning, under which we now sat. And as we sat there, still laughing, barely a minute after this had happened, Paco jumped up with a great force and yelled, MAMA! And Leticia said, OH MY GOD! IMPOSSIBLE! And the woman, cried, MY SON! and then, LETICIA, IS THAT YOU?! For this was Paco’s mother, who lived far on the other side of town, and whom Paco hadn’t seen for a few weeks, and whom Leticia hadn’t seen for years, ever since she and Paco had been boyfriend and girlfriend.
    Well, the date was made between Paco and Leticia, and we all said goodbye, and Leticia and I walked a mile or so to another cafe, where we sat outside, and talked for a long time about poetry and coincidences and translation, and by and by we bid a warm goodbye to the other and I walked to a fabulous bookstore, where Forrest and Cesar Aira (whom Forrest is translating, and who is generally regarded as Argentina’s most important living fiction writer, the heir to Borges, according to many) had agreed to meet, and we would wander around the bookstore with him for about 45 minutes, or so, talking about this and that author, and finally Aira said, Why don’t we go to a cafe, I know a good one. We went there, and it was about 5 in the afternoon, and it was very crowded, but we found one table, the only one not occupied, and sat down.
    I gave Aira a copy of Doubled Flowering, awkwardly, for I always feel somewhat presumptuous giving books to people when I know they will probably never read them, and then I told Aira and Forrest about the fabulous coincidence of a few hours before, and Aira looked at me for a few moments, and then he began to laugh and laugh, and Forrest did too. And as we laughed, I marveled, though to myself (for it would have seemed too much to add it to the story), at the fact that we were sitting at the very table where Leticia and I had sat an hour and a half before, the only table that had been open, when Aira, Forrest, and I arrived there.
    Well, said Aira, of a sudden, lighting a cigarette, I have to go– an interview with La Nacion, I’m afraid. And away he went, crossing the street, and we watched him go. And now today I have found out that his new novel is based on the impossible story I told him that day, of the young man, the waterfall, the mother, the poet, and the translator.
    I can’t wait to read it!
    Kent

    • On June 23, 2009 at 11:59 am Lourdes Vazquez wrote:

      I am so glad you were in Palermo with Reynaldo Jimenez, my editor and the editor of Lila Zamborain and Cecilia Vicuna, among others. Tse Tse is a one of a kind publishing house.

  • On November 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm john wrote:

    Kent, you’re a muse!
    Seriously — what a story.
    And how funny — and fun, for me the reader anyway — that us bystanders find out about it the same way you do.
    When Harriet becomes the site of a marriage proposal, she will have seriously arrived.

  • On November 26, 2008 at 8:19 pm Forrest Gander wrote:

    Australian John Tranter, extraordinary poet (and author of the triple crown– the three big 2007 Australian book awards– winning Urban Myths: 210 Poems, New and Selected) with his tendrils so farflung and deep in the poetry world, he seems to be the much-handsomer poetry equivalent of the Armillaria fungus, the world’s largest organism, writes to point out this fascinating entry in JACKET magazine: http://jacketmagazine.com/23/pallas.html
    It concerns the poet and adventurer Mark Pallas, alias Marc Perdeau, born in 1923 in Montevideo Uruguay, who wrote a book of poems and a study of the South American influence on the poetry of Lautreamont, Laforgue, and Supervielle….

  • On November 28, 2008 at 12:08 pm Kristin Dykstra wrote:

    Machado’s vampiric sensuality captures my attention. Poetry as ritual for extracting liquids from otherness, a source found (in these excerpts) in male bodies: dead, alive, decadent, bound. A thin veneer of pleasure rides the unbearable lineage that dominates her poetry. Or is her poetry comprised of the untenable lineage itself?
    From this standpoint, let’s give Machado her own spot in the Harriet storytelling sequence. Gothic: Machado stores the drained Bodies of the Predecessors under her bed. Perhaps there isn’t enough room for all of them. No, there’s just room for one single leg, stored in a compact box. Let’s say that leg is taken from Jaime Saenz.

  • On November 30, 2008 at 8:27 am gypsygal wrote:

    I think her poem is rather amazing, I am interested in all of the animal imagery she uses. Did that strike anyone else?

  • On November 30, 2008 at 10:15 am Kent Johnson wrote:

    It is quite something. I hope Sarah Stone will soon be publishing some of her Machado translations in journals here!
    Kent

  • On November 30, 2008 at 2:41 pm Kristin Dykstra wrote:

    Animals in the domesticated traditions of pets and stock — the puppies are cute, but with reference to women bearing litters, I hear that pattern as referencing a troubled tradition. One also framing people as pets and stock that ought to be untouched by “stain.” The family and the courtship here suggest a certain kind of backdrop — a colonial production line.

  • On December 3, 2008 at 7:57 am Melisa Machado wrote:

    Soy Melisa Machado, la de los versos animales. Rindo tributo a una de mis antecesoras, la gran poeta uruguaya, ya fallecida, Marosa di Giorgio. Ustedes la han nombrado y yo deseo enviarles una nota que he escrito sobre su vida y obra. La entrevisté en 1999. Murió en 2004. Salud, damas y caballeros.
    “Hay una cordura azul que se traslada vertical delante de mí”, respondió Marosa cuando se le preguntó qué era, para ella, estar cuerda.
    Sentada en una mesa en el viejo bar Sorocabana, en Montevideo, di Giorgio tomaba café allí todas las tardes y recibía a quien se acercaba. “El café es para mi una adicción. Tiene un sentido. Es también un respaldo, una protección. Cuando lo tomo quedo invulnerable. Como si me tocara un dios”, contestó luego, por escrito, en 1999, al aceptar responder una larga serie de preguntas sobre su vida y su obra.
    Con la mirada perdida y esquiva, los labios y las uñas pintadas de un rojo morado, casi azul; con el pelo rojo desatado, levemente recogido a ambos lados, la poeta salteña Marosa di Giorgio (1932-2004) bebía ésta y otras infusiones, durante horas, mientras leía, escribía y conversaba. Si no bebía café, bebía licores caseros. De menta, de yemas, de chocolate. Si no tomaba licores, tomaba un vino “oscuro morado, negro, grave”.
    Ahora, luego de su muerte ocurrida en agosto de 2004, se acaba de publicar en Buenos Aires, su obra completa: Adriana Hidalgo editó “Los papeles salvajes”, una recopilación de su obra poética y la editorial El Cuenco de Plata, publicó “El Gran Ratón dorado, el Gran Ratón de lilas”, relatos eróticos completos.
    El poeta argentino Daniel Helder, integrante del Diario de Poesía rosarino, fue quien la relacionó, en los 90, con este sello. “Una de estas cálidas mañanas recibí un llamado de Daniel comunicándome que una dama argentina, una de las dueñas de las poderosas librerías Ateneo, iniciaba esta línea editorial y que mi suma poética ‘Papeles salvajes’ había sido propuesta y aceptada para esas ediciones. Se iniciarán esmeradamente y con miras a una muy amplia difusión, dentro y fuera de Argentina”, contó Marosa, en 1999.
    Los primeros “papeles” (así le llamaba a sus propios textos: una suerte de exquisita prosa póetica o poemas en prosa) que ella consideró “literatura” fueron, justamente, los que inician la antología Papeles salvajes, publicada inicialmente por Arca en 1973 y cuya primera edición estuvo a cargo de Ángel Rama. La segunda edición, también realizada por Arca, en 1991, fue ampliada por Alberto Oreggioni y Wilfredo Penco.
    Su primera publicación en el extranjero fue en Caracas, en la colección Lírica Hispana. En Argentina, la editorial Ultimo Reino había publicado varios poemas en una separata que reunía poetas uruguayos. Y el Diario de Poesía había editado un dossier.
    En México, había participado en la antología Barrocos del Río de la Plata (Editorial Tucán de Virginia) y publicado Medusario (Editorial Cultural Económica); ambas publicaciones coordinadas por el poeta uruguayo Roberto Echavarren. En Francia, había publicado Misales (Editorial Arcane 17, 1994) en edición bilingüe, traducida por Gabriel Saad.
    Escritura, erotismo y virginidad
    Esta creadora de un universo propio poblado de una fauna y flora humanizada y fantástica, fue sin lugar a dudas, un personaje urbano de aspecto extravagante e inconfundible. Algo que según ella, no era una cosa que hubiera elegido sino que se trataba de “un aura que, de a ratos, me causa desazón “.
    Su cara, en los últimos años, era casi una máscara pintada por ella misma. Así parece describirse en uno de sus últimos cuentos eróticos titulado “Rosa Mística”: “Con rapidez y lentitud, empezó a enmascararse, a pintarse de amarillo y rosa, de dorado, de grana, de azucena, de alelí. Tomaba colores distintos, unos cándidos, otros terribles, y al fin logró una vez más la misma mascarilla, que era copia de su misma cara, pero más encendida y fantástica”.
    Durante las mañanas en su casa –un apartamento en el centro- tomaba té y comía frutas mientras escuchaba el informativo y desempolvaba sus muñecas. Exhibía en el pasillo, a la entrada, su último regalo de Reyes: una pequeña mesa de juguete con sus sillitas, todo pintado de plateado.
    Y escribía. Siempre escribía. A mano, en unas hojas lisas y desleídas, un tanto grises, viejas, con una caligrafía antigua y prolija, de niña aplicada. Escribir era su vida, “mi destino”, decía. Y contaba que la experiencia de crear un poema era algo que le sucedía de súbito “como si se encendiera una luz”. Que era también “un acto solitario, íntimo, del cual sólo se puede compartir el resultado”.
    Luego de escribir sus textos, solía leerlos en voz alta, corrigiendo rima y cadencia. Pasaba horas dedicada a la escritura y a soñar con los ojos abiertos. Tanto que nunca tuvo novio. Dicen –los que la conocieron de cerca- que murió virgen. No se le conoció novio aunque siempre decía que estaba enamorada. Y anhelante.
    En la última etapa de su escritura, su libertad expresiva se exaltó y sus relatos eróticos alcanzaron un nivel que suele escasear en este tipo de literatura. Era capaz de escribir, por ejemplo: “La vulva, ese pedazo de raso con una herida” o pergeñar la historia de una mujer portadora de una enagua sexual: “Él tironeaba de la enagua en flor advirtiendo con espanto que la enagua procedía de ella; estaba hecha de su misma leve carne, sujeta con pedúnculos vivos a todo el cuerpo. Era una gran enagua sexual, toda de ovarios, toda de clítoris recios, como pimpollos de rosas rojas en hilera”.
    Cuando el periodista Walter Cassara de Página/12 le preguntó si estaba de acuerdo con George Bataille en afirmar que la violencia es el alma del erotismo, contestó (por escrito, por supuesto) “no hablaría de violencia, más bien de un alcohol azul ardiendo, un perfume profundo de jazmines, un arco iris con manías extrañas. Un azahar de azahares”. Y cuando le preguntó qué opinaba de la pornografía dijo (más bien, escribió): “la diferencia entre pornografía y erotismo es abismal, sin desdeñar ningún género”.
    Convivían en Marosa una visión mística y sexuada con una sensibilidad cuasi infantil deslumbrada y deslumbrante. Escribía como una mujer de vasta experiencia sexual: (…) tendida, con la cara rayada, daba pequeños gritos, todos distintos y cada vez más raros como si estuviera alcanzando la cima del mundo. En ese instante casi se casa con Dios, pero el joven retiró el miembro lacio y ella no se consagró. Le latía con fuerza el corazón, un seno salido de la blusa, picudo y obsceno como nunca”.
    Y escribía como una adolescente pudorosa y virgen: “Y mi madre me envió a la alta colina con una cesta de frutas y un frasco de agua, y él allá, erguido, esbelto; bajo la capa negra, la cara vieja y ardiente, los ojos negros y nerviosos como mariposas; y yo me quedé mirándolo, y él me miraba; y yo sentí que mi pecho se entreabría, que quería volar mi corazón, y huí colina abajo, y erré, sin atreverme a entrar a la casa, sin atreverme a enfrentar a mi madre”.
    Una niña entre las bromelias
    Entre otras raras manías, le obsesionaban los huevos. Diseminados por su apartamento había piedras y piedritas con forma de huevos como los que aparecen en sus textos. Cuando se le preguntó por qué le fascinaban, contestó: “son perfectos, celestes, como pequeñas gemas o lo que fuere. Ellos son (…) otra cosa más recóndita y cálida como un capullo tibio, caliente. Hay algo ahí, en la entraña, un inicio, un pío, un latido, una perla, una… molestia diabólica y celeste”.
    En uno de sus relatos eróticos más conocidos, titulado Misa de Pascua, se lee: “El perro tuvo un enfrentamiento con una gallina; ésta se asustó y quedó tiesa. Él le decía, mostrando las fauces hasta el fondo, las muelas facetadas: ‘Dame un huevo’. La gallina abrió un poco las piernas y echó uno que se partió en el piso. Muerta de terror, casi convertida en efigie, pensó, diseñó, con su mentalidad específica, otro, bello; se echó muerta de espanto y lo dio. Era hermoso, blanco con una almendra hincada. Parecía una joya y un helado”.
    Además de escribir sobre huevos y coleccionarlos, le gustaba cocinar berenjenas, zapallos, tomates, ajíes. “Los vigilo mientras hierven hasta que se esponjan, se empluman, hacen como un gritito. Esto da un poco de pena, luego me los como”.
    Y cocinaba budines, “temblantes y dorados”, como los que aparecen en sus relatos.
    “Ella echó una mirada al rojo budín: se seguía tejiendo solo y ya daba un aroma a azúcar de rosas, durazno y anís. Un perfume adecuado para lo que estaba por suceder”, narra también en Misa de Pascua.
    Cuando Marosa era niña leía y paseaba. Caminaba distraída y atenta entre árboles de duraznos y ciruelas, entre almendros, rosales, morenas, vides y olivares. A la vuelta de las caminatas leía revistas extranjeras. “Eran publicaciones finas algunas en italiano a las que mi abuelo Eugenio Médici estaba suscripto”. También leía revistas españolas, diccionarios, libros de poesía y novelas. El camino de los gatos, de Hernán Suderman, era su novela preferida.
    Había aprendido a leer en su casa, en la escuela agraria Nº 13 y en la Nº 8 de Salto.
    Cursó el bachillerato en el Instituto Politécnico Osimani y Llerena, de Salto. Allí también estudió arte escénico con la profesora Nydia Arenas, y ya en Montevideo estudió Derecho, aunque abandonó durante el primer año.
    Casi todos sus libros fueron premiados en sucesivos concursos de la IMM y del MEC. Ganó varios premios de fundaciones privadas e internacionales como el premio de la B’nai B’rith: un viaje a Israel y a Europa, la beca Fullbright, el premio Morosoli, el Bartolomé Hidalgo, el premio “La flor de Laura”, de la Vanclouse-Francia-Sociedad Petrarca, el primer premio a la poesía en idioma castellano en el Festival Internacional de Medelllín, Colombia y una invitación por dos meses a la Casa del Escritor, en Saint Nazaire, Francia, con la edición bilingüe de su libro Misales, entre otras distinciones.
    Vivió en Montevideo -donde a partir de 1987 recibía una pensión graciable concedida por la Cámara de Senadores, durante el gobierno de Sanguinetti- pero extrañaba Salto a donde volvía “como quien vuelve al altar”. La capital le parecía una ciudad “extraña y agazapada. Con alas grandes, veteadas, manchadas. A medio abrir”.
    En su pueblo, durante cinco años, había trabajado como oficinista y como cronista de sociales y culturales, en el diario Tribuna Salteña. “Traté de hacer las cosas bien, que ese algo lunar que llevo siempre conmigo no se interpusiese demasiado”.
    Lo que más recuerda de esa época son “los nidos de búhos y palomas”. Y cuando “cruzaba el puma, con su oscura tez, su boca de esmeralda: el minuto más intenso”.
    Hasta su vejez y su muerte añoró su infancia, “ese lugar en el que estábamos casi todos vivos”“. Y a su madre quien, al morir, la dejó, según sus palabras, “sola, con su lecho vacío al lado”. Tenía con ésta una relación estrecha que se refleja continuamente en su obra. “Maté a mamá. Al fin lo hice”, se lee en uno de sus poemas de “Clavel y Tenebrario”, poemario escrito en 1979. “Mamá tenía la nariz gruesa y carnosa, la boca grande, los ojos celestes y sin color, y creo que hasta una oreja, blanda y peluda como la de un porcino; gobernó las hojas, el mar de pasto, la pequeña selva que habitáramos; fichó las fieras, los bichos diabólicos y los arcangélicos; hizo la escritura de mi casa. Todo lo hizo”. Menos su escritura, vibrante y compleja.
    Marosa di Giorgio. Los papeles salvajes. Edición definitiva de la obra poética reunida. Adriana Hidalgo editora, Buenos Aires, 2008. El Gran Ratón Dorado, el Gran Ratón de Lilas, Relatos eróticos completos, editorial El cuenco de Plata, Buenos aires, 2008.

  • On December 4, 2008 at 5:44 am david chirot wrote:

    I think two important poets are overlooked here–
    one is Jules Laforgue, who was born in Montevideo–
    and via Arthur Symons’ book on French Symbolist Literature so influenced T. S Eliot–
    and the other is a longtime friend, ,mentor and collaborator, Clemente Padin, for four decades one of the leading exponents, theoreticians, historians, creators and performers of Visual and Sound Poetry, Performance Poetry and Mail Art as well as one of the greatest known and recognized participants and practitioners of these art and poetry forms in and recognized in the world.
    Clemente is also an Anarchist and was arrested for “art works detrimental to the morale of the Army,” and imprisoned and tortured for two and half years of a four year sentence under the dictatorship of the 1970s-80′s. An international campaign was able to earn his early release as he was provided with a job in Germany in order to ensure his leaving the country for a while.
    In the last few years, Clemente has been it seems nearly always on tour in Latin America and Europe.
    A few years ago I had written a number of times to Kent Johnson about Clemente and also Clemente and my collaborations and friendship. At one point in one of their travels recounted in Jacket journal, Kent and as I recall also Forrest Gander had accidentally come across a festival at which Clemente was performing.
    Many of Clemente’s works have been translated into English and are available on line, and a number of his books and chapbooks have also been published in the USA. At my blog i post al the latest news he sends as well as those of his Fan Club, as well he has contributed to my projects there, International Calls in the last three yeats for Visual Poetry and Mail Art. And, to be sure I have participated in many of Clemente’s projects and togetehr we organized the Mail Art Hit Parade for the Bienal Habana 2000.
    (I was not allowed to leave the US, sadly for this, even with much documentation and arrangements for rooming and etc from the Cultural persons in the Cuban government. You will find that many Visual Poets and Mail Artists have problems with governments, in a way the more conventional types of poets and artists do not.)
    I think very overlooked by Americans for the most part is the huge role that Visual Poetry and Mail Art, as well as Sound and Performance Event Poetries, play and have played for quite some decades in Latin America. Even with the current rather superficial vogue for Visual Poetry, this oversight persists, except for the EPC group and followers’ taking up the promotion of the more reactionary members of the long government-aligned Da Campos family.
    A number of factors may contribute to this neglect–though there have been published a small number of volumes of historic-theoretical works with many Visual Poem examples translated by Harry Polkinhorn through time, including a few of those of Clemente’s–perhaps the politcal and semiological orientations, as well as the “strangeness” to Americans still in many ways, outside of comix, of the interrelationships of textuality and visuality and sonority as languages of a part, rather than apart from each other. This “strangeness’ may be in part that unlike the Latin American and Central American culture, Catholicism and the writings and pictographic languages of the Indians across al the Americas have played such a marginal role in American culture. The Mayan visual language is actually the most complex and sophisticated so far known anywhere in the world, and with many other Indian written-pictographic languages such as those two of the Ojibways which my family is part of mixed with Quebecois, their influences even when nearly annihilated have endured.
    Two events of immense importance in the hsitory of notonly the Western hemisphere but of the world occured in recent decades–which are what many observers have called the only truly democratic elections during these decades anywhere–that in Haiti, with the eelection of president Aristide, quickly destroyed by Clinton and Co, and the election in Bolivia of the first indigenous person to be President of a nation, Evo Morales. His government, too, has had to fight back almost immediately against the American backed wealthy areas of the country who wish to overthrow Morales and his programs for the poor and oppressed of centuries.
    The anti-democratic practices of centuries by the US in the Americas, and the current refusal to sign the International Recognition of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, coupled with President-elect Obama’s endorsement of the continuance of the Monroe Doctrine, in the Western Hemisphere and heavily endorsed, funded and armed support of Apartheid in the Occupied Territories, do not really bode well for the near future for any improvements in relations with the Americas nor indigenous peoples in the US. While the countries of the Southern hemisphere steadily are unfettering themselves from the American exploitation and oppression, the US is almost–or actually– moving backwards in time in its policies.
    Perhaps for al these complex reasons, it is perhaps not that surprising that such a long time and immense-impact series of developments in Visual, Sound and Performance Poetries as well as Mail Art, should be overlooked in the US, since in these spheres one finds the works most critical
    of the Fascisms supported and often outright installed by the Americans, as well as of the Americans themselves.
    An interesting parallel I think can be found in the continuing acclaim for Roberto Bolano’s Savage detectives, in which many American poets are delighted to find poet’s names they recognize or knew or slightly knew–as opposed to the truly disturbing works By Night in Chile and Distant Star–and also the Nazi literatures of the Americas to a lesser extent–in which the direct connections between the Americans and the Pinochet are extremely clear–directly in By Night in Chile, based on real events, and indirectly in Distant Star, by implication.
    One might suggest a parable in this contrasting of the ways Americans’ receptions of their eagerly embraced self-reflections on the one hand, and their almost completely ignored reflections on the other, reveals a splitting between the near total immersion in the self and its receptions, its being noticed and hailed–and the total lack of interest and denial of anything which is remotely critical of the self and its interests–of indeed, its self-interested self-interests..
    –In The Savage Detectives the self absorbing spectacle of one’s self being in one or another connected with the poets known of at least by name by the young poets in the book, makes this work “a sweet and welcome success.” On the other hand, in the other works, there is the total denial of the reflections of this same self as being directly involved with the torturers and Fascists opposed to any form of culture other than their own extremely narrow coffin of one.
    This form of increasing isolationism and the claims to not being in way accountable or complicit in any with the “evil things people unfortunately may do in the name of the good,” one notes, is taken place not AGAINST reading works from other countries, but on the contrary, in the readings of translations of works from other countries.
    The isolationism and denial of complicity and accountabilty are turning the mirrors into Walls–
    which the Americans are building at an ever increasing rate and funding and supporting the world’s largest one with ever more fervor as it steadily makes disappear all with in it, from the lights and then from the eyes of any correspondants. to bring back the most horrific of tales.
    It is like the saying about alcoholics/addicts who essay “the geographical cure.” No matter where you go, you are waiting for yourself there.
    And so, one has not really gone anywhere–

  • On December 7, 2008 at 12:04 am Liz Henry wrote:

    Hello Kristen from Xantippe!
    I would like to mention María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira too, an interesting Uruguayan poet who was writing and publishing around the turn of the 20th century. Here’s a brief bio of her and a couple of poems with my translations:
    http://liz-henry.blogspot.com/2008/09/mara-eugenia-vaz-ferreira-las-ondines.html

  • On February 10, 2009 at 11:59 am Jimena Laudicio wrote:

    Hello everybody. My name is Jimena Laudicio and I am a Public Translator from Uruguay. I have a degree in Literary Translation and I dared to point out some details related to the translation into English of Poem II of El lodo de la estirpe. I’m afraid I wrote it in Spanish, but I’ll try to translate it into English too. If you want to exhange ideas about it, feel free ro contact me at jimencita@hotmail.com. Look forward to hearing from you.
    En principio podemos observar una traducción con tendencia literalista, apegada al original y que latiniza la lengua meta, el inglés, al tratar de apegarse sintácticamente a la estructura del original, lo que podemos considerar un efecto exotizante que mantiene los ecos de la lengua fuente.
    Solo se aparta de esa estrategia al verter “El musgo de mi aliento crecería a tus pies/mullidas hebras” como “The moss of my breath would grow springy/threads at your feet”. Considero que este cambio de estrategia es innecesario, que en este caso la tendencia exotizante sería funcional para mantener el golpe de efecto, ya que el inglés permite perfectamente “the moss of my breath would grow at your feet/ springy threads”. Si bien no se corresponde con la sintaxis “normal” del inglés, tampoco lo hace el original con respecto al español, y al normalizar va en contra de la línea poética del texto fuente. En todo caso podría agregar una coma entre las dos estrofas, pero no sería imprescindible.
    En cuanto a lo semántico, considero que la traductora resolvió de un modo no del todo acertado algunos problemas. A mi entender el problema principal está en la elección de “dump” y “dirt” como traducciones de “volcar” y “tierra” respectivamente. Estas opciones están cargadas de una connotación negativa que no está presente en el original, lo que implica que la traducción esté agregando información. Pienso que esto se trata de un descuido de la traductora y tal vez de aferrarse demasiado al diccionario, que ofrece las opciones que la traductora eligió como traducción de los términos a los que referimos .
    El término “Dirt” se relaciona con desechos; “mugre” o “basura” serían los términos con los que trasladaría esa palabra al español. Creo que no solo no se vincula con el espíritu del original sino que se le opone, ya que en el sintagma “tierra blanda” hay una intención de suavizar, de enternecer, que jugando con los “dedos de niño”, las “migajas de pan” y con la sumatoria de las cuatro primeras estrofas se encuentran, a mi entender, en las antípodas de lo que “dirt” connota. Esta intención se extingue en “soft dirt”. Yo habría optado por “I’d leave your body on soft soil”. Con respecto a “dump”, el término aparece en el diccionario bilingüe como traducción de “volcar” en el sentido de “vaciar” . Pero en este caso el sentido que tiene en el poema no es vaciar sino “dejar”, “posar”, “colocar”.
    Otro problema que se da en el poema es el de la desambiguación de “nuez”, pero en este caso no podemos culpar a la traductora si no que se trata de un problema de lengua, ya que en español “nuez” puede referir al fruto del nogal o a la “prominencia que forma el cartílago tiroides en la parte anterior del cuello del varón adulto” , entre otras cosas (me remito a las acepciones apropiadas a este contexto), mientras que en inglés tenemos el término “walnut” para el fruto y “Adam’s apple” para el cartílago. Además, el contexto y el término “hermano” dejan claro que se está hablando de un varón, por lo que no hay contradicción de género.

  • On February 13, 2009 at 7:20 am martin wrote:

    very good!!!!
    congratulations Jimena
    i hope good luck for you !!!
    see you


Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, November 24th, 2008 by Forrest Gander.