Posts Tagged ‘ibarbourou’

Long but good day

The total highlight of my day was getting email from someone who translated “my poet” … not mine clearly but someone who not a ton of people in the US have heard of. (J. de Ib4rb0rou). Renato introduced us over email and we chatted a bit & sent each other our versions of a rather long odd difficult prose poem. Oh it was so great! I took an hour to compare our versions and by the end was in tears I was so happy someone else had wrestled with the same phrases and been equally obsessed with the poem. Sometimes she did so much better with a phrase, and sometimes I liked mine better and had clearly hit upon something more graceful… and sometimes I was unclear. Then there was the bit where she translated something as “oyster” and i had it as “nun”. So, it sounds like we might collaborate — I suggested meeting somewhere in between or at one of our houses for a weekend, and we can hash out this poem line by line, and maybe send it to a press I’m thinking of — oh and she had the same difficulties I did with international copyright (damn its evil heart) and if that works out well, we could do a longer project of her selected poems!

It’s very intense — because translation can be intense. You spend an hour or so thinking about how to make this come out of your brain and fingers:

It’s better than any book, knowing how to read the signs of God in nature’s bounty.

The smallest life that I can feel throb in the palm of my hand – an insect, a green leaf, a tiny fertile egg, a rainbow drop of white nitre with a blue depth like a newborn lamb’s eye – I discover in them such pure and emotional miracles that they make me feel the necessity of prayer more than a sacred choir.

And it’s a translation of something another person thought of and wrote, right? But I have to think about it as hard as she thought about it in the first place, and harder because I’m trying to get inside her head and go back in time to 1968, and further back in time to 1919 to know the poet she was then, too. So, to know that this other translator loved J. d I.’s obscure, long, unfashionable poem as well as I did, enough to spend the time on it to translate it her way,

Better than from any book, I knew how to read God’s messages in the nature of things.
The smallest life beats in the palm of my hand– an insect, a green leaf, a small fertilized egg, an iridescent drop of white saltpeter with a blue base like the eye of a newborn lamb– the discovery moves me closer to the need for prayer, more than a sacred choir.

Collaboration on this translation will be great. Our styles are not so far off as to be incompatible, but they are different enough that I think together we’ll make a much better translation!
She had the same caveats I did – about having done the work a few years ago and not thought about it since – and that if we looked again at the original we’d both made different choices. That is a good sign, of someone who doesn’t think there’s one right way, a person who is evolving & open to change!

I’m so extremely pleased.

List of projects

– Wittig book. T. will publish it. Needs… several weeks of intense work. Will not really pay. But I’ll like having it out and done. Someone will like reading it.

– C.B. translations. I have a batch of maybe 15-20 poems of hers. Some will get published soon so I have to work on them for sure. Others seem very promising – I think people would want them. Must get in touch with her. I could very well do a complete book of hers, either selected poems or everything in “A M3dia Asta.” will she be nice? Will she like my translations? Time scale: ??? I could get a grant for this, maybe, or query a publisher, or both. (U-see-I grant? though they are snooty as hell). Other sources? Grant first, then publishers? Or the other way around? Would this project establish me better/easier as a translator? (Also, I lean towards it since it’s new and shiny and I love the project.)

– j. de ibar. book. Also would need… a month, 6 weeks, two months? I have a lot done. around 150 pages of poems. But they would all need to be gone over carefully and there are also many others not done that i’d like to do. My research into her life is okay, but not hugely thorough, but i might not need it for the press that expressed interest over a year ago that I have not followed up on.

– giant anthology. pitch it to many places? query letters. i want to keep doing research and expand it. a grant? a selection from it: maybe the cubans?

– my own work which is this enormous manuscript which I need to update. (One unfinished long poem that I would have to spend a while working on, which involves some down time along with the plain old writing.) Send this off to various places.

I would like to go to Cuba, and Argentina, and Uruguay, and Chile. Especially Cuba, to go to the libraries and look at whatever I can find and to buy books. Investigate cultural/research channels to get there? (Then, my language ability would improve and I could reapply to grad school and get a phd eventually.)

I need to get translations published here and there in journals, so I can qualify for grants, which I still don’t, because there is a particular bar of page count and over half of them must be from not-online journals.

So all those things are possibilities and they’ll all get done eventually. Which to focus on first?

OR… completely different tack. Should I instead be volunteering or interning at some techie place that I like and love? In order to try to get a job? Because none of the jobs I see seem likely to hire me without more recent actual experience.

OR… should I be getting some crap job, part time or full time? Just to have some income at all? (I lean against this because then I fuck over my long term “career” possibilities and then M. goes into squalid non-educational daycare for not a very good reason. But, then I am less parasitical, and earn social security, and maybe feel less guilty, though I would be miserable and bitter. And yet I see secretary/temp jobs come up and think, “well, then i’d get paid for something. I shouldn’t be so spoiled.” )

OR… should I be setting up as a consultant? I feel like I could do this but I’m not sure how to start. The ghost-blogging job would have been so ideal.

OR… should I be applying for rather hideous looking part-time lecturer pool jobs, in composition, that I probably won’t get…? (since they seem to want a composition certification).

to the library! poetry!

I’m off to the library to work on my talk for the conference next week. I need to do a bit more background reading so I feel comfortable. And I want a couple of quotes. And to do at least 2 more translations for my examples. Need to look up a couple of poems from Desolacion. Which when I went to look them up in a book i *thought* was my complete poems of mistral… weren’t there. Jeeez louise! All the most lesbonic ones (surprise!)

Have I mentioned that I am increasingly crushed-out on Langston Hughes, the more I read about him? You know… he’s kind of a dork. Always full of this sweet earnestness. I wish I had some recordings of him reading in Spanish.

I keep thinking about how he pitched Mistral. It seems very odd. He mystical world-mothered her, as she kind of did to herself and as many others did, but he also didn’t un-queer her, imho, deliberately, echoing the U.S. 50s queer reading of Sappho, not so much the 20s latin american suicidal heterosexual lovesick sappho. Still, I have these quibbles about context left out… especially poems that are mom-ish, and song-like, but that are directly engaged with modernismo – the princess one especially! to play with it… with the niña read as “muse” or “love” … right? Mistral doesn’t do what people like Ibarbourou or Borrero did, musifying a man or a god… she musifies children, so that to her art, she’s a powerful mother… Okay, I can talk about that, but what does it have to do with Hughes? I don’t know enough! Plus, I feel he did a bit of a rush job…( and with nameless assistant grad students!) … A good, a fantastic job… but he took his populist ideas about song and negritude and in a way, edited and translated mistral into that, but for women and motherhood. Which, actually, is very cool, but… he depoliticizes her. If she had translated him, and had mysticalled him up as a primal world-father… he’d be pissed.

My translating yesterday went really well. I got into the groove, and the spot, and the abyss: way down in there, hauling huge bags of language with me, and made some funky shit out of it. Played with C.B.’s weird regenderings of language. I think any way atall of translating this stuff will be wrongy wrongsterville, so, am slapping extra words in there like there’s no tomorrow to convey double meanings, and trying to break gender/grammar too.

The hardest thing is the way that her regendered nouns look like verbs to me, the body/action, woman as action-doing-speaking-body. Also, she is fantastically dirty and bold, and I have to go back over the poems, meditate on the dirty boldness, and then stare at my english versions, transposing. The bricks are there, and I have to pull them out, puzzle, stick them back in in different spots, without collapsing the whole wall, at this stage.

I started writing a new thing but then realized it was exactly the pattern of this june jordan poem and then i was damn pissed off. i might finish it anyway. But first i should finish the 3rd section of my long long homeric hymn.

organizing things

Suddenly I don’t know what to do with myself. So… cleaning out papers, making files in my file cabinet. I need some systems.

vague plans and projects:

Writing & blogs
– write age/gender article w. Q. brainstorm, look things up… other articles?
– send out submissions of poetry & translations, goal= 50 rejections by end of summer
– othermag blog twiddling.
– blogher posts, need to catch up.
– femsf blog: install comments plugins
– read more of Gormglaith… take good notes
– keep up w. b-mama
– composite! get 3rd issue going, talk to sholeh w.
– book manuscripts. get in order. mf, a., old stuff should be put in order. Ibar. manuscript.
– wiki the writers from my anthology research. need wiki with good tagging built in.

– files on computer. organize like crazy
– need email reorg, workflow fix.
– paper files.
– do finances spreadsheet + projection. budget?
– figure out moomin’s camps for summer. 3 days a week? zoo camp for 1 week? then, playdates, beach, zoo, pool, library other days.
– order awning material ASAP for porch

– dl form for rec dept. class on blogging
– contracts, taxes, that kind of stuff. how to do this? consultant?
– apply for lecturer pool at local colleges

Projects and manuscripts

– quite a lot of assorted translations and poems, never sent anywhere
– Perlllongher. half-done draft of long poem. 10 poems by him done. others in draft stage.
– anthology of turn of century poets translations, as a manuscript to be sent out with query letter.
– my own manuscripts: artless and m0ther frrrankenstein. Not ever sent anywhere. In fact i doubt anyone else has read them through at all.
– Anthology done the short way, as thesis, with intro. (this should be #1 priority.)
– ibarb0ourou translations, half-way accepted by ggroan anteger press, but no contract yet, and not 100% done on my end, maybe a week of solid work necessary on it.
– Arv3lo Torrealba translations, self-published, still good, rejected from umpteen places, I stopped sending it out in 2002 or so.
– w1ttig project, needs fixing up, in theory was going to work like mad on it all thru september and get it done.
– write longish essay on perllongher and… i don’t even remember but i had a whole idea and pitched it and the foetry plash people said they for sure want it.

How many stories, novels, manuscripts, are in my binders and notebooks buried, finished or unfinished, I’m sick at heart to think of at the moment. I’m sending some of this crap out into the world today. There are probably 6 more major projects that are 80% complete that I’m forgetting to list. goddamn it.

– query letter sent to utpress
– proposal+sample to field
– a few translations to aggggni, bitter o.

new thought: just prepare one short burst of poems. then send it to at least 3 places.

Well, at least I’m tracking everything i send out – that’s progress. It’s in one big flat file, just where i sent it, the date, and the titles, then accepted/rejected and a quick summary of any response like “send something else”


oh for god’s sake. meanwhile here is El Primo example of all that I hate and loathe and mock in today’s page-poet world… has garden flowers, dead parent, dullness in abundance, only lacks coffee and toothbrush. and I hear this sort of poem ALL the time. It makes me crazy. I call it “humdrum” because after it’s read aloud, everyone in the room quietly goes, “Hummmm. (!)” and nods sagely & appreciatively. It equivalent in spoken-word land has much the same “confession of having an emotion about my family relationships” flavor, but with a little more gutter and less middle class in it, for the setting. That’s the main difference. they try to jerk the oomph out of one tiny nuance of emotion and what they REALLY are is a paragraph in a novel. (or, you can think of it as Testimony.) And it would be an okay novel, probably. So write your novel already! Because it ain’t poetry worth a damn. I know, I keep saying I’m not going to be nasty, but this poem just provoked the hell out of me with its Xtreme boringness. I’ve said the same thing much more nicely and with More Pomposity (TM) in my real-name essays in the last few years.

Godslayer; nerd girls in bed

I’m in the middle of Godslayer, and it’s so juicy and satisfying! Chula won’t believe me that it derives from Tanith Lee’s Flat Earth series as much as from LOTR and the Silmarillion, but that’s because she has a grudge against Tanith for writing the world’s dumbest Blake’s 7 episode. Because one must never, never commit sins against Blake’s 7. “Tanaros… he’s so sexy… he’s like Avon.” Chulita loves Jacqueline Carey so much that I was nearly thrown out of bed for asking how the desert people know how to swim. Maybe they just know the theory of it through many ages of legend and air-breaststroke. Meanwhile she’s snorfling to herself and reading me bits of awesomely bad dialogue out of some ancient ten-cent Hulk comic book. “Mayhap Hercules shall, and mayhap he SHALL NOT, puny mortal! Father, they know not what they do!” And then the Hulk gets to go to Olympus. Hearing all this gives me the urge to read Tarzan for the millionth time!

8 more pages of the long poem to translate — There’s no way I’ll finish it today. I should be working on my thesis, or on the Ibar. manuscript, or on the mpreg article. Instead I’m in the mood to translate! I realized yesterday while looking up infinitely dirty swears in lunfardo, that this one part of the poem has a clear reference to a dirty joke about an ant and an elephant having anal sex. Does anyone know that joke? I can’t remember it.

And I’m going to put the Godslayer down, back slowly away from the Godslayer… I’m still in the middle of A Brother’s Price, which J. of Blogosity sent me, and I’m saving it for post-Godslayer so that it will cheer me up after the Likely Depressing Fall of Darkhaven.

crashing poetry

God I love working like this! I’m having trouble stopping … countdown 15 minutes or so till i have to leave to get Moomin. It’s hard to switch gears. Maybe one day of after-care till 4 or 5? gah. instead I know very well that I should be driving him to music lessons or something. but i have a lot of drive to get work done & yet my working time has dropped now from 7 hours a day to around 4-5. brutal.

there is a pta meeting tonight. and i have to buy stuff for moomin’s classroom. I didn’t do my errands but instead went to coffee to meet Squid’s friend. now must haul moomin on errands.

I am exactly halfway through the manuscript of de Ibarbooorou poems. For some I don’t have the spanish typed in yet, so I’m doing that. I think i need to stop my cleanup job and do a page estimate and tell it to the publisher. Though I’d figured: cleanup, then do a line count. Add some for extra poems i want to slam in there, and for a preface. Then i can fiddle which poems go in or not — later.

My god… I realize i haven’t read all her essays… maybe not all the poems even. How can I select? I should buckle down and read her essays too and her speeches. And that whole book of poems to the virgin mary that I just skipped while rolling my eyes, and her children’s plays. ergh. Even if I do all that, Prof. F. will freakin’ kill me for not being scholarly and reading all the scholarly articles published on her in the last 80 years. There aren’t really all that many… but if I want this to be a book, not a doctoral thesis, it can’t be that elaborate.

the poems themselves are such fun!

holy shit! yeah!

Wow, just now I got email from Groan Anteger press and they are totally interested in 2 of the books i pitched to them! whoa! yay! you have any idea what that means to me… at least 2 years obsessed with doing that work. Translating J. de Ib4rbourou, who is so unknown & unhip.


You know it also feels really good that lots of people are thanking me for doing the academia panel… super nice! (I didn’t prepare a lot for it as I usually do for panels, and I didn’t make a cool handout. And felt so bad that I was going to do it half-assed that I almost flaked out and didn’t go at all. But it went well. If there’s one thing I’m good at it’s thinking of a million ideas on the fly and talking about them punchily & informally. I love being on just about any random panel. Also I can always think of suggestions of books or resources that might lead people to what they want to explore. I feel like I’m tossing handfuls of sparkly confetti, the beautiful information that usually is lurking in dusty books, and people are catching bits of it… And I get very excited about other people’s ideas, everyone seems all golden to me during classes, or discussions… I focus on what they’re saying and get a little bit lost in it, and then come out again. It’s this feeling that makes me think that I make a good teacher, though the kind that might not be ideally patient and slow-explaining – and yet, charismatic & encouraging people to believe in their own ideas, their own superpowers. )

I’m so excited that G.I. wants my translations of those poems! Finally — and to think that I gave up on it in 2001… all those people like U. of A. press saying that they didn’t have money and 9/11 had affected their publishing climate somehow, direly. And everyone else saying they only wanted recent or living women poets. (part of the problem that makes us seem to have no history & makes us disappear.)

ride the wave right up into the parking lot till the asphalt scrapes your belly

When I work I really get going. 2 book proposals out the door & mailed. Woot! That was a huge surge of energy and confidence!

I sent the de Ibarbbbourou. stuff to Gr33n Integerr … but also extra stuff like “proposal lite” on 3 other writers they might like better. I dunno… I’ve done the most work on de Ibar. and they might like it. I think really P3rllongher would be a better fit for them, or Enriqueta A.-L.

My summing-up-of-thesis progress yesterday turned into today’s sudden other manuscript which I fired off with a fairly brief sum-up of what’s out there, what the niche is, what the book is, etc. and 12 pages of stuff. Hmmm.

for the time it took to put it all togehter and write the cover letters and proposal stuff, I sustained a record belief in my own amazing brilliance and deservingness-of-having-it-all-published-somewhere-ultra-legit.

As soon as I was addressing the envelopes this belief began wisping away. what was I thinking? It is not really DONE! What an ass I’m making of myself! Even if they published it, by some weird fluke, everyone REAL would know that it’s kind of half-assed!

Nonsense… it’s all fine… they can reject it all they want… I’ll just keep sending it out, this time.

I have to completely rewrite it for MLLLLA Texts & Tr4nnnslations series though – and pitch it all differently even tho it’s the same damn thing.

Whew. Do you have any idea how hard that was? Now why should that be so?

biblio woes, musings on what’s sexy in poetry

I must be the worst bibliography-keeper ever. I thought I had a system! But it’s all screwed up! My notes aren’t as good as I thought they were. Oh… remembering Prof. Steed’s neat rubberbanded index cards… and looking at my grotesque scatterings of text files and snippets here and there, scribblings, xeroxings… all fucked up!!!

I should keep it all in an Annotatrix system like the W1ttig stuff.

Girding my loins! Wading into the fray! Whirling my battle-ax around in the air! All footnotes shall be tamed… i will lead the bibliography into rome, chained with golden chains in a fancy chariot…

Last night I read a bunch of poems by Arg3ntinian women. The 2nd person plural throws me off like crazy – it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it or read it and I forgot that they use it a lot.

I got into doing some St0rni though it’s hard to feel like there’s any point as she’s so translated already compared to the other women. I’m doing her “letter to another woman” which is very sappho-ish in that it’s about a love triangle but there’s at least some ambiguity who the writer loves & who inspires her jealousy. “tell me, if in your mouth/you keep a hive of murmuring bees/ if your ears are modelled/from petals of hollowed rose. Tell me if you cry, humble, looking at the distant stars/and if your warm hands/lull to sleep the palest doves.” there has to be a way to say that that doesn’t make people start giggling at the idea of the beehive in her mouth. Ow! Ow! Ow! Anyway, trust me that there’s a super trite annoying way to get all swoony about doves and rose petals, and then there’s one that’s beautiful & carries you away the way it’s meant to.

Things that lat. amer. modernists think are sexy (circa 1906):

– roses
– stars
– jewels
– beehives
– swans
– the color blue
– meteors
– doves
– fire
– greek gods
– nostalgia combined with carpe diem
– anything that overflows a container
– certain internal organs
– sandals
– vampires
– crashing ocean waves
– the thought of one’s own death
– opium
– Pan

They’re such goths. Or whatever you call the bastard love child of goth and punk, the thing that people do a lot, I have no idea what it’s called. What neo-gothpunks think is sexy (circa 2006):

– blood
– skulls
– pirates
– certain internal organs
– anything that penetrates a container
– vampires
– moonlight
– glass
– explosions
– nostalgia combined with irony
– moviestars
– heaven
– hell
– guitars
– meteors
– boots
– rats
– Hello Kitty
– the color black
– crystal meth
– Kali

The lines about bees in St0rni’s poem reminded me of Juana de Ibar.’s “bee’s four wings” poem where she’s like, making out with Dionysus, and their lips are like white-hot bees “gilded and burning” and honey is spilling out everywhere. That’s a damn cool poem! My admiration for de Ibarb0urou increases as I keep reading this stuff.

Your lips on my lips spill their honey
and the wings burst out. They spill their honey
and you have the sweetness of honeycomb on your skin.

Don’t laugh. The four wings of the bee can’t be seen
but they are felt on the mouth. The wings can’t be seen,
but sometimes – amazing! – they buzz right into my head.

And yet still further inside. The sweet wings hum
right into my heart.

Hey – I’ve had kisses like that. But mostly I’ve had orgasms like that! I bet Juana would have like my vibrator! Yes, me, Dionysus, a dead poet, and my Magic Wand, back in 1919 in her townhouse next to the Fr3nch Emb4ssy in M0ntevideo. That’s how we do our radical revisions of literary history! It’s all about time travel, Greek gods, and really good battery-packs.

On another note – it’s strange how easy some poems are to read, and how other poems, or really, all work by a particular author, will force me into the dictionary every other line. I tend to prefer the language-lovers who get a little bit obscure. On the other hand – easy word choice doesn’t mean trite or boring.