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March 2010

Correspondences in the Air: International Poetry

We’re celebrating the publication of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris of Words without Borders, by devoting the month to poetry. Reading poetry gives one a chance to overhear similarities, or what Anna Akhmatova once called “correspondences in the air”—that is, moments where authors of different geographical and historical circumstances, languages, and traditions seem to address each other in their works. In these correspondences we see the importance of dialogue, as poets return to their poetic origins in order to create something new. Listen in on Roberto Bolaño, Sergio Chejfec, Nyk de Vries, Charles Ducal, Alta Ifland, Jazra Khaleed, Luis Garcia Montero, Yiannis Moundelas, Francesc Parcerisas, Mercedes Roffé, Tomaž Šalamun, Nikos Violaris, and Richard Wagner, and enjoy the conversations.

Then
Then with her hands she’d crown her son’s head, then with her arms she’d embrace him,      then with her fingers she’d pluck out his eyes, then with her teeth…
Translated from Catalan
Let Us Talk
First, we will bury you in the sand, with your head free to speak about mutual understanding, about peace;   first, we will make your field our own, station soldiers between mine and thine, direct…
Translated from Dutch
Half Sleep Half Death
Half sleep half death. My hands in springtime my heart in mud. Thus I transform myself. Between spring and not spring where trees are deep and waves strike root. Thus I transform myself. Half Nikos half…
Translated from Greek
Largo di Vitoria
Out of milk, out of strong skin jumps the big brother. When the river flows, the berth sleeps. There’s the block behind me.   The biggest mango tree in Bahia is a hundred meters away. Spike…
Translated from Slovene
Movements
1 You went to heaven, Sir, forgetting your legs. Should we bury them?   My legs are rose-pink and they’re no good for a wafer.     2 Wanderer, the moon has its own saying.   …
Translated from Slovene
Shave
Observe yourself in the mirror, unchanged yet strange, still shaggy with sleep, startled at seeing your likeness. These wrinkles, these graying temples that you’ve already accepted gracefully —affable…
Translated from Catalan
Black Lips
Listen You who chew on my solitude with your televisions on You who attend my funeral every morning to light a candle Listen I will drive a verb into your eyes I will plant a beat in your chests I don’t…
Translated from Greek
Hermes In Retrogression
With fingers—fingertips and edge of nail— he plots fires with tongues of snakes, a child yearning for sheer drops, with paper wings on his shoulders, thinking and thinking of fires and acts…
Translated from Greek
Call Me at Home, Flambé
darling, when it comes to strawberries you’re like me more, and more and sugar, brandy in mom’s tin pan all summer. you’ve strawberried yourself you leave my tongue red my taste sweet…
Translated from Greek
Worth It (A Thursday Telephonically)
Sad is he who for love has never lost a home.         Joan Margarit Around ten I call you to say I have ten calls, another meeting, six letters, a packed morning, various…
Translated from Spanish
Room
In that town there was a room I kept circling. It was near my girlfriend’s. She didn’t know I sometimes climbed those stairs. On the wall there were photos from before the war. I talked to…
Translated from Dutch
Roosters and Bones
If when night falls in the kitchen Someone leans over To look in the sink, he will see That the rooster’s bones Are much less white. The reason is that they don’t remain clean Marked forever…
Translated from Spanish
Bilingual Poem avec Clichés
“Danse avec moi under the stormy sky”                                …
Translated from French
Night Does Not Fall
Night does not fall nor does it come   Night slowly breaks within me   Because I am a lake ever faceless and I am mud in the dreams of secret stars   So night no longer falls nor does it…
Translated from Greek
from “Tales of the Autumn in Gerona”
A woman—I should say a stranger—who caresses you, jokes with you, is sweet with you and brings you to the edge of the abyss. There, the character cries ah or pales. As though he were within…
Translated from Spanish
Correspondences in the Air: On The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry
By Ilya Kaminsky
Octavio Paz once wrote that the modern poet “extracts his visions from within himself.”  It is my hope that our comprehensive, aesthetically varied anthology of poetry from around the…
Situation: To Cast Off A Malady
By Mercedes Roffé
invite people over. invite everyone.  to a feast.  a big feast.and if the sick one doesn't want to get out of bed, that’s fine, leave him there.let there be music and dancing, and…
Translated from Spanish by Margaret Carson
From the Figure 6 Into Ships
You destroyed all letters. You burned the heavenly garden.  Lot's wife, Ahmed, tiny little mouth.   Das ist Mercedes Benz. Jetzt ist zu spät.  Did Glinka shake from his sleeve                               …
Translated from Slovene
Day, A
gulls woke me and the sun the month january at the foot of the mountain my day at sea, in raging waves, i proved an awful captain, anchor caught in a burnt fir.   Translation of “Iméra,…
Translated from Greek
Lockjaw
I walk toward the mill To meet my quiet father He walks on grass-covered paths His foot in a child's shoe The mill got swept away by the river Two wars have since gone by Father was taken away later…
Translated from German
The Languages of Alta Ifland
Alta Ifland’s writing raises important questions about the legitimacy and practice of autobiography that are too often taken for granted by American writers. In an alert literary age, the fifty-three…