Translation

The Seventh

By MOHAMED ZAFZAF
Translated by ALICE GUTHRIE

 

—We simply must get a band in to play at the women’s section of the party. A party’s nothing without drumming and dancing.

—If my first wife demanded that of me, I would never have granted her wish. But you…you know the place you have in my heart.

Nuwara was twenty-two years old, slight, and a little snub-nosed. What made up for that, however, was the rosy bloom of her cheeks and the existence of that exquisite mole between her left cheekbone and her nose. And although her clothed body didn’t stand out as anything special, when she was naked and in the hands of a man, she became a real woman. She was tastier than any fantasy, as sweet as a ripe fruit out of season. Any man could see that. That’s why Ahmed was saying to her now:

—You know I give in to all your demands. But a male band performing to a group of women? I can’t imagine that.

The Seventh
Read more...

The City’s Pantaloons

By ABDEL-LATIF AL-IDRISSI

Translated by NARIMAN YOUSSEF

 

Internal Alienation

I looked at my wristwatch. Was it time for a surprise trip, or nearing an appointment? I approached one of the coffee shop’s customers and peered at the cup of black coffee and the glass of water—at the time, it would’ve cost the Ministry of Interior Affairs forty billion to quench the citizens’ thirst. This was therefore the most expensive glass of water I never drank!

The City’s Pantaloons
Read more...

Adam’s Apple

By LATIFA BAQA
Translated by NARIMAN YOUSSEF 

I walk in and find the women there in the large hall. I can hear their soft, melodious voices, which means there is no man around. (More accurately: there is no man doing all the talking.) I instinctively head toward them, like an animal finally encountering its species. I take a seat and wait for my turn. Before I came up to the therapist’s clinic, I had run into Fast Lubna—with the hazel eyes, the kohl always smudged, and the newly blonde hair—outside the entrance. She was on the phone. She was dressed in black leather pants and a black leather jacket. I thought she smiled at me, but she didn’t move the phone slightly away from her ear to give me a warm hug as she would have usually done. She used to dress more normally, less severely, before she adopted this style and dyed her long hair blonde. She surprised me. The transformation of the vast majority of women I know since the eighties of the last century has been toward the hijab and extreme modesty, away from modern clothes. 

Adam’s Apple
Read more...

Reina María Rodríguez: Poems in Translation

Poems by REINA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ

Translated by KRISTIN DYKSTRA

Translator’s Note

At first, it seems simple to outline the role of place in poems by Reina María Rodríguez. She began writing poetry in Havana, Cuba, a city that permeates much of her work. She grew up in a building on Ánimas Street, not far from the ocean, in a neighborhood of modest means. Eventually she and her partner built a tiny apartment on that same building’s roof out of largely recycled materials, and there they ran a historic, open-air cultural salon in the 1990s. Today Rodríguez remains interested in everyday life, in the realities accessible to inhabitants moving through the city streets. Alongside her explorations of the present, she incorporates memories from her neighborhood into many poems.

Reina María Rodríguez: Poems in Translation
Read more...

March 2021 Poetry Feature: Sylvie Durbec

Poem by SYLVIE DURBEC, translated from the French by DENIS HIRSON

Sylvie Durbec was born in Marseille and lives in Provence, near Avignon. She writes texts in both prose and poetry, as well as painting and making collages. The many books she has published over the past twenty years include the prose-poetry memoire Marseille : éclats et quartiers (Marseille, fragments and quarters) which won the prestigious Jean Follain prize; Prendre place (Taking  place) concerning the internment camp at Douadic in France and Soutine, a prose-poem about the painter, published in The Common. This year she has published 50 carrés du jour (50 squares of the day) and Ça qui me poursuit (That which pursues me).

Denis Hirson grew up in South Africa and has lived in France since 1975. He has published nine books, several concerning the memory of South Africa under apartheid. The latest, both published in 2017, are Footnotes for the Panther, ten conversations with William Kentridge, and Ma langue au chat, in French, concerning the torture and delight of speaking and writing in that language.

 

Table of Contents 

  • The Ignorance of Beasts 

 

 

The Ignorance of Beasts

I still don’t know how to type a tilde on a computer keyboard

when writing the name of a Spanish or Portuguese writer I love.

 

Nor do I know what poetry is. 

 

March 2021 Poetry Feature: Sylvie Durbec
Read more...

The Old Man of Kusumpur

By AMAR MITRA  

Translated from the Bengali by ANISH GUPTA

Fakirchand of Kusumpur set out on his way to meet the Big Man. A bundle of meagre belongings hung on his back from one end of a cane stick that rested on his shoulder. Old Fakirchand walked with a slight stoop.

It was moments before sunrise, and the March morning was soft and cool with a genial air and the earth still pleasant to walk on. The cocks were still crowing. Swarms of little children were already out in the open. Old Fakirchand walked slowly, as though measuring each step, and raised both hands to his forehead in obeisance or ‘pranam’ to the rising sun. Yes, his eyes felt better and so did his body. In the brisk morning air, he touched his rheumy eyes with his cold hands.

The Old Man of Kusumpur
Read more...

Translation: A Trip to La Paz

Essay by HEBE UHART

Translated from the Spanish by ANNA VILNER

Essay appears in both Spanish and English.

Translator’s Note

Hebe Uhart’s “A Trip to La Paz” is delightfully misleading in that we never arrive at our destination; we never see the city that touches the clouds. This essay is concerned with a different kind of beauty—the getting there, the buzzing potential of travel. It encapsulates why we embark on grueling car rides, on flights, on long train journeys, in the first place.

Translation: A Trip to La Paz
Read more...

Poems in Translation from Bestia di gioia

Poetry by MARIANGELA GUALTIERI
Translated from the Italian by OLIVIA E. SEARS

Poems appear in both Italian and English.

 

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE

Mariangela Gualtieri is a poet of great incandescence. Whether confronting existential questions or questions of daily existence, she writes with searing honesty and compassion. A veteran of the theater, Gualtieri’s voice can be thunderous and oracular, but also painfully intimate.

Poems in Translation from Bestia di gioia
Read more...

A Cornstalk

By RUBEM BRAGA

Translated from the Portuguese by RACHEL MORGENSTERN-CLARREN

 

Image saying "writing from the Lusosphere"

 

Through radar, the Americans made contact with the moon, which of course is exciting. But the most important event of the week happened with my cornstalk.

In my backyard, in a pile of dirt the gardener gathered, something was born that might have been just plain grass—but that I discovered was a cornstalk. I transplanted it to the narrow flowerbed in front of the house. The small leaves were dried out; I thought it was dead. But it revived. When it was the size of a palm, I showed a friend and he declared disdainfully that it was actually grass. When it was the size of two palms, I showed another friend, and he confirmed that it was sugar cane.

A Cornstalk
Read more...