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Writing from Venezuela

March 2014

This month we present fiction and poetry from Venezuela. The current crisis has thrown this often-overlooked country into the spotlight; the writers included here put the protests in context and demonstrate the richness of Venezuelan literature. Alberto Barrera Tyszka brings the curtain down on an actor. Milagros Socorro shops for personalized customer service. Victoria De Stefano visits a literary hangout past its prime, while Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles eavesdrops on unhappy divorcés. Israel Centeno blends sex and aerial attack; Ana Teresa Torres ponders house and home. In poetry, Rafael Cadenas makes peace; Yolanda Pantin speaks of a private death; María Auxiliadora Álvarez considers suffering. We thank our guest editor, Ana Nuño, for bringing these new writers to us.  Elsewhere this month, we present the fifth installment of Sakumi Tayama’s “Spirit Summoning,” as well as poetry from Marie-Claire Bancquart, a tale of an absentee father from Ryuichiro Utsumi, and a peek at domestic intrigue from Espido Freire.

An Introduction to New Venezuelan Writing
By Ana Nuño
It surely is far from good manners to start an introduction with a caveat, but if the subject to be addressed is related to Venezuela, as this one is, it also may be dishonest, even slightly deceitful,…
A Mexican Story
By Alberto Barrera Tyszka
My friend Lencho Mejía has been murdered thirty-seven times in Los Angeles, five in Tijuana, and once in a Romanian-Argentinian co-production filmed in Honduras, which came very close to being…
Translated from Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa
Ancient Plumbing
By Milagros Socorro
On the islands of the Caribbean, the afternoons are long and silent. The little islands, where no one speaks Spanish and which don’t look like countries, either. Just islands. Patches of earth wreathed…
Translated from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey
Standing Stones
By María Auxiliadora Álvarez
everything I want to tell you son Is that you should go through suffering          If you come to its shore if its shore comes to you Enter its night   …
Translated from Spanish by Catherine Hammond
By Victoria de Stefano
It was a beautiful summer night, few stars in the sky, but a big, bright moon. Juan was on his way home after a tiring day’s work. Home meant apartment C, second floor, in a building that was still…
Translated from Spanish by Ruth Clarke & Jethro Soutar
Axel, Itinerant Dog
By Ana Teresa Torres
For Milagros Mata GilThe woman next door was pulling up weeds and planting roses that would flower when summer came. She was an old lady with careful hands and extraordinarily strong legs. She was breaking…
Translated from Spanish by Lucy Greaves
By Yolanda Pantin
Every man would haveas Rilke wisheda personal death:            sowell deserved, likelove, private,inner,contained, a seed, the sameas childhood’ssecret…
Translated from Spanish by Katherine Silver
A Pornomilitary Romanza
By Israel Centeno
II’m Eleazar, and when I suffer through nights with asthma and a runny nose, all I think about is Vitico’s sister, Silvana. My heart stops when I remember her, my lungs stop, my dreams stop,…
Translated from Spanish by Valerie Miles
A Separation
By Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles
After a tumultuous delay (domestic battles, locum solicitors, heartless agents, judicial strikes, and sudden deferrals), Arturo was given confirmation of the appointment. When he received the news he…
Translated from Spanish by Ollie Brock
Any More Than a Look
By Marie-Claire Bancquart
A jersey skirtbetween the belly and the gray day.The Eiffel Tower cries electricity.On Mirabeau Bridge, a woman strokes the fabricthinking of the passing minutes,the year’s deathsin her journalcrossed…
Translated from French by Christina Cook
On the Brink of Life
By Marie-Claire Bancquart
The dead need no more spacethan a mouth from its lipstick.They skate on the shutters.This slit of daylightis their last look, which spies usexchanging a kissin a lapse of their memory.They’ve planed…
Translated from French by Christina Cook
Making Peace
By Rafael Cadenas
Let’s come to an agreement, poem.I’ll stop forcing you to say what you don’t meanand you won’t resist my desires.We’ve wrestled a lot, you and I.Why insist on creating yourself…
Translated from Spanish by Lucy Greaves
Spirit Summoning, Part V
By Sakumi Tayama
Yoko asked my name. Usually I’d stop and think about it, make a point of recalling the name. This time I decided not to. I didn’t think, didn’t search for the name. Didn’t try…
Translated from Japanese by Mark Gibeau
By Ryuichiro Utsumi
One day, when he went home after a long absence, he found the apartment empty
Translated from Japanese by Toshiya Kamei
Blue Pansies
By Espido Freire
“Muriel!”Honestly, I've been thinking about her for the last three days with a touch of nostalgia. I must have been in love, after all. Just my luck, I've just discovered that everyone's…
Translated from Spanish by Toshiya Kamei
By Marie-Claire Bancquart
Mankind, this late in coming, rewinds a thread of the worldalong the stalls of early producecrates, market palettessmell, wet, like their tree of origin.Nearing the very depths of ustransfusionof the…
Translated from French by Christina Cook
My Bones
By Marie-Claire Bancquart
My bones have beautiful remainsalready cut, it’s truealreadymended togetheras they bravely remain.They holdmy flesh and skin on.I bring their troop alongand bring myself along with it(old impression:…
Translated from French by Christina Cook