Poetry

July 2021 Poetry Feature: Burlin Barr

By BURLIN BARR

 

Table of Contents:

  • Repairing Holes in Concrete Walls
  • Eruptive debris of very small size 
  • Wolf Tree

 

Repairing Holes in Concrete Walls 

The furnace always was 

too hot, having been 

converted from one mode of operation 

to something else entirely; 

its source of power mysterious, improvisatory; 

changing: it looked like a tree 

July 2021 Poetry Feature: Burlin Barr
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Translation: Poems by Lara Solórzano Damasceno


Poems by LARA SOLÓRZANO DAMASCENO
Translated from the Spanish by IGNACIO CARVAJAL

Poems appear in both Spanish and English.

Recife, Brazil

Translator’s Note

Lara Solórzano’s poetry is a contestation, a reprieve from fear. Her work exhibits a precise aesthetic and a fundamental grounding in urgency. Historical memory characterizes every figure and spirit in the verses that name societal constraints faced by women. Along with that naming of violences—and ultimately more important than it—the poems ring with an unequivocal rejection of them. It honors me to offer these translations from the collection El bestiario de las falenas.
—Ignacio Carvajal


Translation: Poems by Lara Solórzano Damasceno
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64-West & KY State Fair

By D.S. WALDMAN

Kentucky, United States

64-West
After Calvino

When you ride a long time in the private
night of your pickup cab
                                 you enter eventually 
into a desire you cannot name    a greater dark
that wants only what 

64-West & KY State Fair
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Translation: Hong Kong Poet Chung Kwok-keung

Poems by CHUNG KWOK-KEUNG 鍾國強

Translated from the Chinese by MAY HUANG 黃鴻霙

Poems appear in both Chinese and English.

 

Translator’s Note

Cha chaan tengs, local diners that serve comfort food all day, are a cornerstone of Hong Kong culture. At a cha chaan teng, you can order beef satay noodles for breakfast, a cup of milk tea stronger than any Starbucks coffee, lo mai gai (glutinous rice and chicken wrapped in a lotus leaf), and more. To many Hongkongers, cha chaan tengs evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia. Indeed, it was precisely these feelings that drew me, a Hongkonger living in America, to translate Chung Kwok-keung’s remarkable poems.

Chung wrote “The Cha Chaan Teng on Fortune Street” in 1996 about a Cha Chaan Teng he visited in Sham Shui Po while running an errand. He no longer remembers what the errand was for, he writes in a blog post, but “words have helped [him] remember concrete details of that cha chaan teng.” At the same time, he also wonders whether there is something about a place that is lost forever once it no longer exists, no matter what we write down. As evocative as the details in this poem are, from the “soft clink” of utensils to the “grease-soaked hair” of a waiter, the poem ends on a note of uncertainty, unsure of whether words can safeguard memory. 

Translation: Hong Kong Poet Chung Kwok-keung
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May 2021 Poetry Feature: Humberto Ak’abal, Translated by Loren Goodman

Poems by HUMBERTO AK’ABAL

Translated by LOREN GOODMAN

Table of Contents

  • Holes
  • Courage
  • Love
  • Mirror
  • Stone bread
  • We sow
  • Mrs. Wara’t

Humberto Ak’abal (1952 – 2019), a poet of K’iche’ Maya ethnicity, was born in Momostenango, Guatemala. One of the most well-known Guatemalan poets in Europe and South America, his works have been translated into French, English, German, Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Scottish, Hungarian and Estonian. The author of over twenty books of poetry and several other collections of short stories and essays, Ak’abal received numerous awards and honors, including the Golden Quetzal granted by the Association of Guatemalan Journalists in 1993, and the International Blaise Cendrars Prize for Poetry from Switzerland in 1997. In 2005 he was named Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture, and in 2006 was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Loren Goodman was born in Kansas and studied in New York, Tucson, Buffalo, and Kobe. He is the author of Famous Americans, selected by W.S. Merwin for the 2002 Yale Series of Younger Poets, and Non-Existent Facts (otata’s bookshelf, 2018), as well as the chapbooks Suppository Writing (The Chuckwagon, 2008), New Products (Proper Tales Press, 2010) and, with Pirooz Kalayeh, Shitting on Elves & Other Poems (New Michigan Press, 2020). A Professor of creative writing and English literature at Yonsei University/Underwood International College in Seoul, Korea, he serves as the Chair of Comparative Literature and Culture and Creative Writing Director.

May 2021 Poetry Feature: Humberto Ak’abal, Translated by Loren Goodman
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Translation: Moss on a Smooth Rock

Poem by SILVIA GUERRA

Translated from the Spanish by JESSE LEE KERCHEVAL and JEANNINE MARIE PITAS

Poem appears in both Spanish and English. 

Silvia Guerra

Silvia Guerra

Translators’ Note

“Moss on a Smooth Rock” is from Un mar en madrugada (A Sea at Dawn), by the Uruguayan poet Silvia Guerra, published in 2018 by Hilos Editora, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The English version of this book is forthcoming from Eulalia Books in 2022.

Guerra’s work is notorious for its complexity, its concreteness of image and abstraction of thought, and its convention-defying syntax, capitalization and punctuation. With a long-standing interest in linguistics and psychology as well as a deep affinity for the natural world, Guerra’s poems go beyond the self in an effort to imagine the world from the standpoint of other beings, living and nonliving. For centuries, humans have assumed a monopoly on consciousness, even arrogantly denying the subjective experience of other mammals. But scientists are at last confirming what any dog or cat owner has always known: animals are not unfeeling automata any more than we are. But while only some creatures are proven to be sentient, can we be so certain that others are not? “How can we be so sure that plants feel no pain?” asks Polish poet Wisława Szymborska. What about rocks? Guerra dares to imagine they are. 

Translation: Moss on a Smooth Rock
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Trap Street

By KAREN SKOLFIELD 

“[T]he existence, or non-existence, of a road is a non-copyrightable fact.” —Alexandria Drafting Co. v. Amsterdam (1997) 

Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street 
is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, 
paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, 
no chalk, no children’s voices, 
a fence unlinked from its chains, 
the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble, 
some wandering mailman, a house unbuilt, 
the bricks unlayed, the mortar unmixed; 
of the things that hold more things together 
the cementitious crumbles on this street, 
the lime breaks from the shale, the shells 
from their marl and clay. On trap streets 
the rules of gravity bend, curve to the mountain 
or fight it, dog leg the impossible angle, 
ribbon the gulley, shimmer from heat, 
unspool. Cliff walk, some miracle mile 
meant only for goats, a meander of cloven hooves, 
a stitching of strip mines, red earth or white,
ground that, once spotted, we call disturbed

Trap Street
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Recollections

By ALEKSANDAR HEMON 

My father once asked me: How is it I can recollect
with utmost clarity what happened forty years ago, 
but not what I did this morning at all? I didn’t know, 

but I recognized I would always recall that moment.
It was late summer. We were driving to the country
to see my grandfather, now blind and demented,

Recollections
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First

By KEITH LEONARD

 

I fell in love and became        like those men in Plato’s Republic
who heard music for the first time        and began singing,
and sang beyond reason,         beyond dinner, beyond sleep,
and even died without noticing it,      without wavering.

First
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