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March 2013

Spain's Great Untranslated

This month we present poetry and prose by twelve Spanish masters whose dazzling work has been unavailable to the English-language world. Exploring scenes ranging from the devastating Madrid subway bombing to the idyllic coastline of Greece, in rhapsodic poetry and anguished prose, these writers provide new insight into Spanish literature today. Read Fernando Aramburu, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Miquel de Palol, Ignacio Martínez de Pisón, Antonio Gamoneda, Pere Gimferrer, Berta Vias Mahou, César Antonio Molina, Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, Olvido Garcia Valdés, Pedro Zarraluki, and Juan Eduardo Zúñiga, and discover the breadth and depth of contemporary Spanish writing. This issue is part of the SPAIN arts & culture program and was made possible thanks to a charitable contribution from the Spain-USA Foundation. We thank the Foundation for its generous support, and our guest editors, Javier Aparicio, Aurelio Major, and Mercedes Monmany, for their excellent work in selecting the authors and pieces presented here.


Elsewhere, we present writing from Syria, as Zakariya Tamer tells tales of djinns and talking walls, Abdelkader al-Hosni reflects on friendship, Golan Haji considers magic and loss, and Lukman Derky mourns a history of war.


Mangled Flesh
By Fernando Aramburu
The explosion had sent me flying through the air.
Translated from Spanish by Valerie Miles
from “Rhapsody”
By Pere Gimferrer
XV The time has come to say good-bye; with farewells comes wind to the vineyard like dark Valpolicella wine in the hand of dark winter dyes: parks, far stations pass by winter platforms, by hills that…
Translated from Spanish by Willis Barnstone
The Baghdad Clock
By Cristina Fernández Cubas
“It’s the spirits, girl, it’s the spirits.”
Translated from Spanish by Lucy Greaves
from “Rage”
By Antonio Gamoneda
From violent dampnesses, from places where the residues of torments and whimpers mesh, comes this arterial grief, this shredded memory.          They go insane, even the mothers…
Translated from Spanish by Forrest Gander
The Last Day on Earth
By Juan Eduardo Zúñiga
The murmuring on the far side of the barrio was neverending as the heavy machinery demolished homes.
Translated from Spanish by Thomas Bunstead
Crossing Bridges
By César Antonio Molina
I cross bridges just as I leave dreams in hotels.
Translated from Spanish by Francisco Macías
Social Skills
By Ignacio Martínez de Pisón
The dog, as if she knew they were talking about her, opened her eyes and looked at her owner, who choked back a sob.
Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean
They Destroyed Our Radios and Televisions
By Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas
They destroyed our radios and televisionsto leave us without images,without those maudlin songsthat lulled our past to sleepback when we still believed in trainsby the seaside, at the ranch where Lauracarried…
Translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee
Autumn Here is Magical and Vast
By Golan Haji
A bloody shaft of light shone under our door between their compass & the north star so the road passed through our house out toward the estuary. Its stones are our tears which silted in our chests…
Translated from Arabic by Stephen Watts
Stories from “The Hedgehog”
By Zakariya Tamer
I asked my best friend, the black stone wall, about the latest news in our house.
Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Hacker
In the Doorway of My Friend’s House
By Abdelkader al-Hosni
I stopped in the doorway of my friend’s house And my palm was glued to the doorbell But my finger trembled, too weak to arouse A desire to ring in its wires I wavered. The road to his house had…
Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Hacker
By Lukman Derky
We who were killed in all wars. In the Basus war our corpses dangled from the Turks’ gallows In Troy’s war We were behind the walls Blood dried in our veins Those besieging us never went away…
Translated from Arabic by Ali Al-Baghdadi
What Do You Expect, Heart?
By Olvido García Valdés
  What do you expect, heart? What do you want from me? To be like Zeno of Elea, who bit off his own tongue in one bite and spit it out at the tyrant? The good angel bad angel speaks: the bearable…
Translated from Spanish by Catherine Hammond
Under the Sign of Anaximander
By Miquel de Palol
He stabbed him forty-eight times, all over his body, methodical, thorough, conscientious.
Translated from Catalan by Martha Tennent
Bitter Lemons
By César Antonio Molina
Everything went well until we got to Corfu.  It’s not that things started to go wrong there, but that this may have been an omen that our happiness had already been drawn out far too long. …
Translated from Spanish by Francisco Macías
A Note on Syrian Poetry Today
By Golan Haji
At a moment of simultaneous disintegration and creation, survival looms just where the danger is. What is it like to be Syrian today, when a long ending and an unknown beginning are bloodily mingled?…
Don’t Do It
By Pedro Zarraluki
“Now let’s get down to us,” she said, lowering her voice to a purr.
Translated from Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem
The Devil Lives in Lisbon
By Berta Vias Mahou
I don’t know where Mother would go off to. I’m not sure.
Translated from Spanish by Daniel Hahn