Translation: 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

Nosotras, who for millennia have steered warships,
sailing through seas made invisible.
Nosotras, who walked barefoot through valleys of stinging
nettle, had our name ripped from the book of history,
our biography from the scientific treatises,
our pen amputated from the philosophy manifesto
and from the APA conventions, our vagina.
Nosotras Emilia, Olimpia and María Isabel,
century after century,
with tears, sweat, and devotion exhumed the remains of our
sex. Nosotras, who in order to fill your belly
had to have smaller servings and eat our meals cold.
Nosotras, the Potter, the Hunter, the Pythia
whom with glee you watch lose and win,
win and lose parcels of our freedom,
come to tell you that the derivative
game of your holy office is over.
That the sea of unrest and weariness has awoken
and is taking us to lands where to sprout roots and multitudes of
foliage. Nosotras, Disobedience, Insurgency and Objection,
from now on: exist in the language and no one picks out our
clothes. And day after day, life after life,
We will re-write all navigation maps,
your policies,
and love.

Nosotras, que por milenios navegamos buques
surcando mares invisibilizados.
Nosotras, que andamos descalzas por valles de ortiga,
que nos arrancaron el nombre del libro de historia,
del tratado científico, la biografía;
del manifiesto filosófico, nos amputaron la pluma;
y de las normas APA, la vagina.
Nosotras Emilia, Olimpia y María Isabel,
centuria después de centuria,
con lágrimas, sudor y devoción desenterramos los restos de nuestro
sexo. Nosotras, que para llevar alimento a tu vientre,
tuvimos que servirnos menos y comer frío.
Nosotras, la Alfarera, la Cazadora y la Pitonisa
que nos ves con regocijo perder y ganar,
ganar y perder parcelas de nuestra libertad,
venimos a decirte que el juego
de derivados de tu santo oficio se acabó.
Que el mar de desasosiego y hastío ya abrió sus ojos,
y nos lleva a tierras donde echar raíces y multitud de
follaje. Nosotras, Desobediencia, Insurrecta y Objeción,
a partir de ahora: existimos en la lengua y nadie nos escoge la
ropa. Y día a día, vida tras vida,
reescribiremos los mapas de navegación,
tus políticas
y el amor.

The Composers
for Chiquinha Gonzaga

In the morning of life
when I wanted to sit at the piano
you broke my fingers
one by one you crushed them
but I kept on playing.
Because I don’t accept of this world the
judgement nor of your values the punishment
nor of what you impose upon me the alleged
privilege. And in the bruised gray of the afternoon,
when I wished to enter Radio Nacional,
you signed your name on my symphony,
but I kept on composing
dense harmonies
vast operas.
Because of that I don’t accept of this world the
judgement nor of your values the punishment
nor of what you impose upon me the alleged
privilege. In the paradoxes of night,
when from time to time you loved me,
and I wanted to go on tour with the
orchestra, you made me birth children for
But the oldest was named Polka,
the middle one Waltz;
the youngest, Tango.
And now in the squalls of the wee hours
everyone knows who I was and am.
My music beats on the stands of the
philharmonics, in the dancing halls in the discos
and in brilliantly run-down establishments.
Because I never accepted of this world the
judgement nor of your values the punishment
nor the alleged privilege you labored to impose upon me.

Las Compositoras
a Chiquinha Gonzaga

En la mañana de la vida
cuando quise asomarme al piano
me quebraste los dedos
uno a uno los partiste
pero seguí tocando.
Pues, no acepto de este mundo el juicio
ni de tus valores el castigo
ni de lo que me imponés pretendidos
privilegios. Y en el gris amoratado de la tarde,
cuando quise adentrarme en la Radio Nacional,
firmaste tu nombre en mi sinfonía
pero yo seguí componiendo
armonías densas,
óperas vastas.
Por eso, no acepto de este mundo el juicio
ni de tus valores el castigo,
ni de lo que me imponés pretendidos
privilegios. En las contrariedades de la noche,
cuando me amabas a ratos,
y quise irme de gira con la orquesta,
me obligaste a parirte hijes.
Pero el mayor se llamó Polka,
la del medio, Vals;
y el pequeño, Tango.
Y ya en los chubascos de la madrugada
todes saben quién fui y soy.
Mi música palpita en los atriles de las
filarmónicas, en los salones de las discos,
y en preciosos escondrijos.
Porque nunca acepté de este mundo el juicio,
ni de tus valores, el castigo
ni de lo que te empeñaste en imponerme, pretendidos privilegios.

Lara Solórzano Damasceno is a Brazilian-Costa Rican poet, translator, interpreter, and professor at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Her poetry has appeared in places like New York’s ViceVersa Magazine, and her feminist collection El Bestiario de las Falenas was published in 2019. Since 2000, she has been a member of the Taller Literario Don Chico, founded by Costa Rican author Francisco Zuñiga Días. She was a member of the Taller Literario Representativo at Universidad Nacional (2009-2010) as well as Poetry Taster and Writing for Film Scripts at Leicester AE College in the United Kingdom in 2006. She has presented at academic conferences at the University of Costa Rica, Princeton University, and others.

Ignacio Carvajal was born in Costa Rica. His bilingual collection Plegarias won first place in the contest Poetic Bridges by Casa Cultural de las Américas and the University of Houston and was published in 2019. His poetry and translations have appeared in places like Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Infrarrealista Review, and Vagabond City, as well as the anthologies The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States and No Tender Fences: An Anthology of Immigrant and First Generation American Poetry. Ignacio is part of the Board of Directors of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and member of the Taller Literario Don Chico in Costa Rica. He is assistant professor at the University of Kansas and loves riding bicycles. You can follow him on Twitter @carvajalregidor.

Image by Flickr user Graham Stanley.

Translation: Poems by Lara Solórzano Damasceno

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