All posts tagged: Spanish

Claudia Prado: Poems from THE BELLY OF THE WHALE

Translated from the Spanish by REBECCA GAYLE HOWELL

Poems appear in both Spanish and English.

Translator’s Note

These poems and versions are from Claudia Prado’s El Interior de la Ballena (Editorial Nusud, 2000), a novel-in-verse based on Prado’s agrarian family legacy in Patagonia. Prado is an Argentinian poet and filmmaker known for making groundbreaking, socially progressive art. El Interior de la Ballena was her debut, a poetry collection that received the bronze Concurso Régimen de Fomento a la Producción Literaria Nacional y Estímulo a la Industria Editorial del Fondo nacional de las Artes (this is the third place award for the biggest literature prize in Argentina). Mixing fiction with oral history, Prado imagines her ancestors’ 19th century migration from the Basque Country into Argentina and, ultimately, southward into the oceanic desert. These poems offer a rare look at the Patagonian plateau between 1892 and 1963, years of intense immigration and population growth, written through a feminist lens. In addition to poems written in the poet’s own voice, the book also makes wide use of monologue and persona techniques, weaving together this intergenerational story through a multiplicity of voices: here speaks a woman who, against her will, is taken to that desert; here is revealed the thoughts of an orphan laborer; here, a chicken thief celebrates his sad prize. In El Interior de la Ballena, Prado uses her page to privilege the often unseen and unheard, composing in silence as much as sound, and in so doing creates a poetics of Patagonia itself. When read together, the poems quilt a place, time, and lineage through a story of strong women, wounded and wounding men, and a rural and unforgiving landscape from which hard-scrabble labor is the origin of survival.

—Rebecca Gayle Howell

Claudia Prado: Poems from THE BELLY OF THE WHALE

Poems From The Life Assignment


Join us as we celebrate The Common contributor, Ricardo Maldonado’s, Pub Day with poems in both English and Spanish from his debut book of poetry, The Life Assignment.

book cover.jpg

 I Give You My Heart

I find myself on my feet with fifteen leaves.
Everything carries its own light on the walls.

I woke up to slaughter, my heart opening
to cemeteries of moon—

the parasites, the drizzle. The mud crowning
the undergrowth with immense sadness.

I knew death when I dressed
in my uniform.

I found the index of solitude: my country
in its legal jargon, its piety, its fiction—

Yes. It loves me, really.

I give my blood as the blood of all fish.

Poems From The Life Assignment

Translation: I Couldn’t Say When It All Began

Excerpt from the novel by EDURNE PORTELA

Translated from the Spanish by TIM GUTTERIDGE

Excerpt appears in both Spanish and English.

Cover of Formas de estar lejos

Translator’s Note

Edurne Portela’s novel, Formas de estar lejos, recounts the story of the slow disintegration of a marriage, worn down by apparently small acts of emotional violence (invisible, even) which, taken together, gradually destroy not only the protagonist, Alicia, but also the perpetrator of those acts of violence: her husband, Matty. The title of the novel itself, as is often the case, is virtually untranslatable. A literal rendering might be Ways of Being Distant although, as I worked on my translation, I found myself thinking of it, in a nod to Gabriel García Márquez, as Chronicle of a Divorce Foretold, one in which the breakdown of the relationship can be attributed not so much to the inherent incompatibility of the partners (whatever that might mean) but rather to the alienation they experience in their personal and professional lives, and the way they respectively succumb to and exploit wider social forces such as patriarchy, male violence, social conservatism and racism. I don’t think it is giving too much away to say that this situation gradually transforms the narrator of the novel into a prisoner and her partner becomes her unhappy jailor.

Translation: I Couldn’t Say When It All Began