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Lisa Rose Bradford translates from the Spanish of Guillermo Boido

Lisa Rose Bradford translates from the Spanish of Guillermo Boido

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Published by: gboido7530 on Nov 08, 2010
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Lisa Rose Bradford translates fromthe Spanish of Guillermo Boido
Lisa Rose Bradford
Lisa Rose Bradford teaches Comparative Literature at the Universidad Nacional deMar del Plata and Translation Studies at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba,Argentina. Her poems and translations have appeared in
Poetry Now
. She has also published two books in Spanish onliterary translation in Argentina,
Traducción como cultura
La cultura de losgéneros
, and is currently working on an anthology of U.S. women’s poetry inSpanish, entitled
Los pájaros, por la nieve
RIL (Chile)
, parts of which haveappeared in
Hablar de poesía
Guillermo Boido (Buenos Aires, 1941) published four slim but warmly receivedbooks of poetry in the 1970s and, after what threatened to be a permanent silence,recently brought out a collection of new and selected work entitled
La oscuridad delalba. Poemas 1970-2000
. His new poems maintain the tersely phrased musing of his previous work, which established him as an essential voice of the ’70s. Boido’sgeneration of poets forms an interlude between the social commentary favored bythe poets of the ’60s and the “neo-barroco” that dominated the poetry of the ’90s.Relying heavily on traditional Spanish poetics and decorum, these poets have oftenbeen criticized for their metapoetic bent and “fuzzy ideology.” Though Boidoexpressly denies that poetry should be political, one can’t help noticing the manyreferences to siege, singing, naming, terror, forgetting, silence, solitude and othertropes that call to mind the dictatorship and “Dirty War” that raged during the timehe was first writing. These allusions may contribute to a metapoetic or even ametaphysical argument in the poems, but they often suggest scenes of terror,particularly in light of their social context. Therefore, the translation of this versemust maintain this interpretative hesitancy.Boido’s poetry is challenging to translate because of its precisely balancedverse and this hesitancy it often provokes. For example, he has a fondness forusing the word “olvido,” which is difficult to convey in English, for in differentcontexts it can mean “forgetting” or “oblivion,” and often proves rather abstract orawkward in English. Moreover, as this term can relate to the private memories of childhood or love as well as to the testimonials of the public sphere, it becomes oneof the elements of this vacillating angle and so demands special care in itstranslation. In “Habits,” for example, “forgetting” worked better than “oblivion,” butit was necessary to add a noun to save the line from utter abstraction: “love is abird that / builds its nest on a forgotten past […]” thereby making for a moreattractive conceit.In this same poem, the melodic mirroring of “canta” and “calla” (it sings/ ithushes) is also problematic for the translator, since the English words cannotrecreate a corresponding assonance. Furthermore, Boido’s poems are often built ona rhetoric of balanced equations—perhaps deriving from the poet’s education inmathematics—and thus require a similar juxtaposed logic. Here the parallelism isachieved with directional actions—rise and fall—which emphasize both the birdimagery and the polarity of song and silence. However, the exact repetition of  “olvido” has been sacrificed:
love is a birdthat builds its nest on a
forgotten past
rises into song
is a bird thatbuilds its nest in love and
falls into silence
The wavering between the metapoetic and the euphemistic that is produced inmuch of Boido’s work is present in several of the poems in this selection. In thepoem “Craft,” the notion of silence is implied by the phrase “transparente depalabras” (linguistically see-through) which I rendered as “wordbare” to play off theidea of speech as fabric and thus bring the metapoetic aspect of the poem intorelief. In another poem, however, we find this hesitancy pushing the poem to workin two simultaneous directions, rather like an optical illusion between the terror of the clandestine jails and a metaphysical meditation on loneliness:Someone sings on a distant shore. Someone lights a fire.We dance. This castaway's grimace looks like a greeting. We dance.(“4”)As culturally implicit meanings prove so difficult to carry over to different linguisticcontexts without some prefatory statement, we can only leave the door open forthose possible connotations to enter. These translations of Boido’s work offer anarray of this “castaway’s” voice and its hesitancy while providing fine examples of his delicate equilibrium and meditation.
the thread of my lifebecomes wordbarefinallytautin some childhood patioI hear the echo of my footstepsresignednot to silence myself death a slow roseyou take me from myself you return me to the world
for Heber Cardoso
love is a bird thatbuilds its nest on a forgotten past andrises into songforgetting is a bird thatbuilds its nest in love andfalls into silence
The Word’s Compulsion
Nothing cansilence the atrocious, formlessdementia of love and reflection.Nothing canname the atrocious, formlessdementia of love and reflection.And still you write the poem.
I exposed my voice to wordsand I called you coral apple skin of MarchI named you with names of other thingsto name the world with your name
A deaf music, a blind flashsoars up a drifting night.Someone sings on a far-off shore.Someone lights a fire.We dance. This castaway's grimacelooks like a greeting. We dance.We are our own shore, calm.And the one that calls us, distant.
University of Iowa’s literary e-journal,Spring 2007 <http://www.uiowa.edu/~xchanges/>

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