Poetry News

In Translation Features an Introduction to Alexis Almeida's Anthology of Contemporary Argentinian Poetry by Women

By Harriet Staff

Alexis Almeida

While you were sleeping, the Brooklyn Rail developed their "web-exclusive" translation journal In Translation, and the newest issue introduces readers to Alexis Almeida's in-progress anthology of poetry by women writers living in Argentina, with work by Marina Yuszczuk, translated by Almeida; Laura Wittner, translated by Shira Rubenstein; Victoria Cóccaro, translated by Rebekah Smith; Verónica Viola Fisher, translated by John Pluecker; and Paula Peyseré, translated by Carlos Soto Román.

"The women excerpted here represent some of the most daring writers I’ve encountered during my time in Buenos Aires," writes Almeida. Some greater context is given in her introduction:

For the past year, I’ve been living in Buenos Aires, compiling and co-translating an anthology of contemporary female poets living in Argentina. Because I was lucky enough to be so close, the majority of my research was conducted through in-person interviews, and meetings with poets, editors, and critics to talk about the different poetry movements growing out of the ’80s and ’90s (a period marked by the transition from a violent military dictatorship to a volatile democracy), the movements happening during the transition from the ’90s into the 2000s (marked by neoliberal policy, hyperinflation, and economic collapse), and the women whose writing was most challenging, exciting, and representative of certain aspects of these times.

I have always approached anthologies with curiosity. Lyric Postmodernisms (Counterpath, 2008), Jen Hofer’s Sin Puertas Visibles: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Mexican Women (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), and, most recently, Claudia Rankine and Beth Loffreda’s The Racial Imaginary (Fence, 2015), have been especially important to me. But I’ve also approached anthologies with skepticism, seeing as they can be exclusionary and limited in scope. So when approaching this project, I started with some fairly large, and increasingly pointed questions, among them: How can we begin to think about poetry written by women in the post-dictatorship period, and what spaces did it create? What opposition did it face? How did it respond to previous traditions (most notably the neo-baroque style pervasive in the ’70s and ’80s, the renewed interest in objectivism in the ’90s, also a general desire to challenge the “literary” qualities of poetry). How did it respond to commonly-trafficked essentialisms, not only concerning gender, but also modes of writing classically associated with women, such as the confessional and autobiographical modes? How did certain authors celebrate or re-appropriate these modes, exposing the power structures at play in the way poetry is circulated and made culturally visible, the way certain power structures impose themselves on women’s bodies (abortion is strictly limited by law in Argentina, for example), and the way these structures impose themselves on various aspects of public and private life?

If language is multiple, co-created, distributed across layers of living (and dead) histories, how does the work here comprise a kind of testament to the ’90s and post-’90s in Argentina, and how does it collaborate in its unsettling of this moment, especially of dominant aesthetic trends? How do these unsettlings vary across regions and feminisms? And, most recently, how does the work express vulnerability? Not because women are innately vulnerable, or possess a kind of unchanging, universal sense of vulnerability (most of the work gathered here can be seen as an argument to the contrary), but because these poets choose to make themselves vulnerable in their work, or to expose the ways they are vulnerable outside of it; the work speaks to these different types of vulnerability, it stretches this term...

Also of note:

While still in progress, the anthology will feature, aside from the women featured here, Roberta Iannamico, Maria Lucesole, Daiana Henderson, Cecilia Pavon, Fernanda Laguna, Marina Mariasch, the Persons Collective, Florencia Minici, Daiana Henderson, Paula Jimenez España, Claudia Masin, Luciana Camaaño, Andi Nachón, Marysabel Sánchez Bouttó, Mariela Gouric, Julia Sarachu, and others, who will be translated by, aside from the translators featured here, Daniel Borzutzky, Lucina Schell, Kristin Dykstra, Jen Hofer, Jacob Steinberg, Noel Black, Camilo Roldán, and others.

We're looking forward to it. Feast your eyes on the entire feature, at In Translation. At top: Alexis Almeida.

Originally Published: May 9th, 2017