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Contributor

Alissa Valles

Contributor

Alissa Valles

Alissa Valles is a poet and translator from Russian and Polish. She has worked for the Institute of War Documentation in Amsterdam, where she grew up, and is now working toward a doctorate in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Articles by Alissa Valles

“I peel potatoes, stroke you on the head, pick up a leaf”
By Krystyna Milobedzka
I peel potatoes, stroke you on the head, pick up a leafoff the ground, turn on the light, light a cigarette, grabthe doorknob, take out a tram ticketdon’t be in such a rush, you’re graying…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
“I put off three dreams about father until later”
By Krystyna Milobedzka
I put off three dreams about father until laterthey may come in handyit’s already an old tear, an automatic oneI always find it in the same place
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
“I lose verbs most quickly, nouns are left”
By Krystyna Milobedzka
I lose verbs most quickly, nouns are left,thingsno more than personal pronouns (a lot of I, more and more I)and names? they vanish, conjunctions vanishthree words, two wordsfinally my, my inwardmy inward…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
“exactly the forehead, exactly the mouth, exactly the hands”
By Krystyna Milobedzka
exactly the forehead, exactly the mouth, exactly the handswith that same dirty stain near the fingernailwith little braidsin an old-fashioned dresswith a dahlia at the cheek, a strawberry at the lipsin…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
From: “After the Cry”
By Krystyna Milobedzka
you have no name, no placetalk to yourself, sand, grassare you crying?who heard the meadow cry? 
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Look
By Zbigniew Herbert
The blue winter sky like a stone on which angelssublime and quite unearthly sharpen their wingsmoving on rungs of radiance on crags of shadowthey gradually sink into the imaginary heavensbut in another…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Principality
By Zbigniew Herbert
Marked in the guidebook with two stars (in reality there are more) the whole principality, that is to say the city, the sea and a stretch of sky, looks great at first glance. The graves are whitewashed,…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Angels of Civilization
By Zbigniew Herbert
At the turn of the century it seemed that angels were leaving us forever and that every trace of them would be lost. They were still employed here and there by funeral services. They also held up unfashionable…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
She was doing her hair
By Zbigniew Herbert
She was doing her hair before going to bedand in front of the mirror it lasted an infinitely long timebetween one bending of the arm at the elbow and anotherepochs passed from her hair soldiers of the…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
On Translating Poetry
By Zbigniew Herbert
Like a clumsy bumblebeehe alights on a flowerbending the fragile stemhe elbows his waythrough rows of petalslike the pages of a dictionaryhe wants inwhere the fragrance and the sweetness areand though…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Good Later
By Marcin Sendecki
“Uh huh” says the streetcar, or it seems to say.When did the clock with the tune get here, it’s getting harderto hear. Wrong: tremors should be caught, fixed, accommodated.How far we’ve…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Blurb
By Marcin Sendecki
Weeks spent. a monthdevoted to the study of a detailin a magazine ad. The guide tells usthere are two kinds of people: creative and not. Soap washes off,milk washes down. Push the cart.For the next poem…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Feverish Activity
By Marcin Sendecki
Good night, one-night flies.Bye, bye.
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Rue de Poitiers
By Ryszard Krynicki
A late afternoon, snow is falling.Near the striking Musee d’Orsay you seea gray bundle on the edge of the sidewalk:a bum rolled up into a ball (or a refugeefrom some country plunged in civil war)still…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Sweet, innocent
By Ryszard Krynicki
Sweet, innocent words,sweet, round phrases,from sweet, smoothrounded comma’spure poisonseeps 
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Return from Assisi
By Ryszard Krynicki
A mutilated Giotto. A loud: Silenzio!From a car transporting animalswe passed on the waythe helpless look of a calfbeing taken off to slaughterfollows me.Help, Saint Francis.Appear before the slaughterhouse…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Tiresias’s Lesson
By Janusz Szuber
1.What futures do the oracular oakspredict for us, the prophetic cups,what horoscope do computers draw,whom do they allow to read to the end?On which continent do dolphins carrywhich islands to cities…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Special Section: Poland Unplugged
By Alissa Valles
On the other hand, maybe poetry can flout its own time, its own conventions, pieties, syntactical laws, aesthetic (anesthetic) canons and going definitions and habits. These are a few poets who think…
Translated from Polish
After Rain
By Ryszard Krynicki
Brother and sister, inscrutable sphinx, noble snail:what fate are you inscribing in your uncertain handon the airport runway, in the last fall of a murderous century?2000 
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest
By Ryszard Krynicki
How did you find yourself here,poor mummy of an Egyptian princess,exposed to alien stares?Now it is here you have your afterlife.I myself am a part of it for a moment,while I’m looking at you.So…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
Tiresias’s Farewell
By Janusz Szuber
From unexpiated sinspoems are born. That’s why you sent downthickening darkness on my eyes.A spiral staircase carries me to countries under the earth –republics of shadow, kingdoms of grayness.The…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles
A Stone from New World
By Ryszard Krynicki
Only when I turned it over on its other side did I see that the heavy sandstone circle which looked like the top half of a mill, grindstone or the top of a well, had been taken from an old Jewish tombstone.…
Translated from Polish by Alissa Valles