Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guest columnist: Claudia D. Hernandez. News&Notes. Banned Book Update. On-Line Floricanto.

Essay On The Art of Translation

Claudia D. Hernandez

Just a few weeks ago, I was invited to attend An Evening of Poetry and Translation with Arturo Mantecon in San Francisco, CA. Arturo Mantecon translated one of my all time favorite poets, Leopoldo María Panero into English in My Naked Brain: Selected Poems. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend this wonderful event, but it made me realize the importance of the art of translation. It reminded me of the complexities of conveying the message of a poem into another language without losing the poem’s essence and beauty.

For the past two weeks, I have also been following Lucha Corpi and Nuria Brufau Alvira’s essays on translation regarding Alvira’s translation of Corpi’s novel: Loa a un ángel de piel morena. I was delighted by the beautiful intimate relationship these two women developed during the translation of the novel. This relationship also reminded me of the bond that I developed with the poet José Hernández Díaz while he translated some of my poems into English.

I’ve been privileged to have many of my bilingual and translated poems featured on La Bloga thanks to the moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070. This is how Michael Sedano invited me to be a guest columnist to relate my experiences about translating my own work.

At first I hesitated because I had never thought about my own process of translating my work. I felt insecure about my process because I have yet to publish my first book of poetry. One thing I do know for sure is what it’s like to collaborate closely with a fellow poet with the translation of my poetry and the contrast of working with my own translations. This has led to the discovery of another intriguing phase of my creative development as I continue to grow as a poet.

English is not my first language. I was born and raised in Guatemala. I immigrated to the US at the age of ten. I learned English, I adapted, but did not assimilate. I went to college, got a degree and now am a bilingual educator in the city of Los Angeles.

Even though I am a bilingual educator, I choose to write my poetry, short stories, and children’s stories in my native tongue. I get inspired en mi amado español most of the time.

Last year, I decided to challenge myself to write some of my poems in both English and Español. Both poems were published here at La Bloga in October 2011. My first bilingual poem was, “Qué mas Quieres” and my second one, “Arraígada a mi tierra”, which was also published in Hinchas de Poesía.

The first stanzas of both poems were inspired in English. As I continued writing each stanza, line-by-line, my Spanish crept in. I proceeded to write in both languages simultaneously.

When “Qué mas Quieres” got accepted for publication on La Bloga, I clearly remember asking Michael Sedano if he could bold the Spanish to make it stand out and Italicize the English to point out that the foreign language, in this case, was the English, not the Spanish.

Both poems were written on the spot by inspiration. All my previous poems and short stories have been written solely in Spanish. These are more complex and because of my upbringing, it never crossed my mind to translate them until the poet José Hernández Díaz suggested translating them.

Last year, José Hernández Díaz came up with the brilliant idea to translate each other’s work. He would translate my work into English and I would translate some of his poems into Spanish. My challenge was not the actual translation, but to match in Español a poem's lyrical and poetic English.

While translating each other’s poems we constantly relied on consulting each other whenever we were not sure what we meant by a particular phrase. Working closely with José made me realize that I could also translate my own poetry.

I wanted to learn how to dominate the rhythm of words and transmit them into another language just as beautifully and smoothly as he. After a few months of collaborating closely with José, I felt I was ready to translate my own work from Spanish to English.

“How hard could it be?” I thought. I didn’t have to worry about certain phrases, the emotions I wanted to transmit, the cultural differences, or if my new translated piece would stay true to the original. After all, I was the creator of both pieces.

I begin by writing my poems side by side and translating them from scratch without thinking too much about the mechanics of the English language. Every time I come upon a word that is hard to translate on my own I rely on the dictionary.

When the final piece is literally translated, I focus on certain phrases, words, for fluidity and rhythm. If I can’t find the perfect word in my own repertoire, I use a thesaurus.

I am sure most translators depend on these tools to finalize the translation of a poem or of any writing piece. As a last resource, I ask native English speakers to help me out with certain phrases that are difficult to translate.

It has taken lots of practice and dedication to translate my own work. The art of translation has always been an important endeavor for many poets, writers, and translators. I will continue to immerse myself in it with my own writing until I master it.

I have seen the growth I have made as a poet ever since I began translating my own work. I have included two of my latest poems that I have translated, and the two first bilingual poems that La Bloga published.

(I wrote this poem last year inspired by one of my photographs I took of a skater kid in East L.A.)
Rampas Inclinadas

En el Este
de Los Ángeles

pasa un niño
día entero
con su patineta;

En su estómago
vacío solo se oyen
charcos de acidez:

sube y baja
rampas inclinadas.

Al atardecer,
los murales
que inhala
llenan sus

de deseos

sube y baja
rampas inclinadas.

Casi siempre
cae bien

pero ciertas
que se a dado,

esas no
se curan
aunque deje
de bajar o de subir/

rampas inclinadas.

Steep, Steep, Ramps

In East
Los Angeles,

A child
spends his day
learning tricks
to kill another day.

An echo resonates
in his empty stomach
filled with acid pools:

There he goes—

up and down
the steep, steep,
ramps of East L.A.

At dusk,
the murals
he inhales
fill up his lungs

with empty

There he goes—
up and down
the steep, steep,
ramps of East L.A.

(agile child who
lands on his feet
most of the time)

Some of his
scrapes and bruises
will not heal—

Even if he
stops riding:
the steep, steep,
ramps of East L.A.

Flor que ayuna

Cada madrugada
Te bebes
     Tu virgen vinagre/

Con calma,
Curtes tus entrañas
Tus retoños/

Ellos brotan en
Tiernos colores
Sin ganas
            De rezongar

The trees are empty               

There are no more hues              
Of blues and reds
In the heavens.                                            

The breeze
fills the background
but the trees remain empty.

Fasting Flower

Each morning
You swallow your
          Virgin vinegar/

You harden
Your entrails
          As your buds

In tender hues
With no desire
          To complain

Los árboles están vacíos

     Fenecieron los matices
            Azulados y rojizos
                     De los cielos.

                              La brisa
     atesta el fondo, pero los
árboles permanecen vacíos.

¿Qué mas quieres?

You have
My borders

You have
Drunk my

You have

La espalda

De mi hermana,
De mi tía,
De mi abuela,
De mi madre.

You have
El arduo
De mi

¿Qué mas

You have
Used and

Se han
Desangrado y
Hasta los

You have
My borders

You have
Lost the right
To forbid us
To succeed
To pursue

El tal mentado
Sueño Americano

Arraígada a mi Tierra

Like a
I stand

It is I
Who allows
The wind
To peel
My hearty

It is I
Who allows
The sun
To caress
My sturdy

—My sturdy,

A mi tierra
Con las venas

No permito que
Me amagues o
De mi tallo.

Yo recibo
Con ternura de
Tu lluvia

Siempre y cuando
Al rociarme
No me acabes,
No me ahogues.

Like a
I stand

Keep your

Elevate me
To the clouds

All your
In my ears

Solo de
Este modo
La espiga se

Retoñaran flores.
Retoñaran flores.


News&Notes from Michael Sedano
Floricanto en Aztlán Reprint

The last time I talked with Alurista he spoke hopefully of his first collection, Floricanto en Aztlán, coming back in reprint. I was partial to Nationchild Plumaroja, but Alurista had a soft soft in his heart for this first born.

At the moment, the republication was a definite maybe. UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center has done it, brought it back with a new introduction. Per UCLA’s website:

With these one hundred poems Alurista created a highly original poetics that upset the literary conventions of the era. Floricanto en Aztlán was first published in 1971, at the height of the Chicano Movement. In this groundbreaking work Alurista presented a new and essentially Chicano poetic language that is part Spanish and part English, with references to the indigenous languages of Mexico.

The reprint celebrates equally Alurista’s linguistic mezcla and Judithe Hernández’ illustration. UCLA says, The prints by Judithe Hernández create a dialogue with Alurista’s work by depicting poetic references to ancient cosmology and contemporary oppression.

Los Angeles area gente can attend a 4 p.m. CSRC Library reading by Alurista, with introduction by Marissa López, Wednesday, May 9, 2012. Contact C/S for datos.

Fundraiser Floricanto

“Poetry doesn’t pay the bills” is conventional wisdom backed by hard truth. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Gente in Sacramento California have an opportunity to free themselves from conventional wisdom and buy poetry that helps pay some bills for Chicano Organizing and Research in Education, C.O.R.E. Friday, April 20.

The 7-year old organization gives a Que Llueva Café Scholarship to GED and graduating high school kids. C.O.R.E.’s long-range objective is that all Chicano/Latino students are provided an education that allows them to choose career and life paths based on their interests and goals.

Supporting C.O.R.E.’s mission at this Friday's floricanto are 20 poets. Open Mic proposes a unique evening’s enjoyment at Sacramento’s The Guild Theatre.

La Bloga's Biennial UCSB Bulletin

Two years ago--the last time UCSB was noted at La Bloga--I was reviewing Gregory Desilet’s novel about the Isla Vista riots. As it happens, Desilet attended a gathering of students from S. John Macksoud’s linguistics courses in the Speech Dpto at UCSB in the 60s and 70s. Macksoud, QEPD.

The campus-by-the-sea is where I met lifelong friend and co-Librotraficante Michael Collins. Collins recently featured La Bloga’s coverage of the Librotraficante Caravan in a series of articles Collins published in the politisphere.

UCSB was a great place but in 1963 I was the only chicano I knew of at UCSB. Happily, by the time I was dragged kicking and screaming onto the bus to the Induction Center in 1969, raza students had begun to show up on campus. ¡Hijole! Now UCSB has a Ph.D.-granting Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. Aida Hurtado Chairs the program.

Hurtado alerts a fortunate few to c/s happenings at UCSB via her email list. You can visit the newsletter’s webpresence and see for yourself. You don’t have to be a Gaucho to appreciate the lives of the six honor students featured down on page 5 of the department news.

That’s it for 2012 and UCSB, unless Hurtado sends los datos on that first set of new Ph.D.s. If you're from a c/s department somewhere, leave a Comment at the bottom of the page. That's the first step in getting your c/s news blurbed at La Bloga!

Center for the Study of Political Graphics Contemplates Burning Books and Art

The CPSG's address is nowhere near Tucson, where banning books is policy. The Center lives in Los Angeles, an institution dedicating itself to collecting and documenting important ephemera of the political churn, posters.

The Center holds numerous shows and discussions. Among those, this month, in West Hollywood, California, the topic is the intersection of art activism and the nation's book burning mentality.

The panel discussion, Dissent 451: Art & Activism Now features noted artists and Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451.

The discussion comes in conjunction with The West Hollywood Library and the City of West Hollywood's participation in "The Big Read," a city-wide collective reading movimiento.

Artists on the panel include some good talkers, so the event should prove entertaining as well as reinvigorating. The panel includes:

Lalo Alcaraz, an early awardee of CSPG's Art is a Hammer prize and creator of the first syndicated chicano comic strip, La Cucaracha.

Eddie Betts, Occupy Los Angeles' People's Print Lab.

Alma López. In 2011, López co-edited with Dr. Alicia Gaspar de Alba the book Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's Irreverent Apparition.

Andrew Newton, Occupy Movement, a member of the Amar Collective

Mary Sutton. CSPG's Program Director, Sutton is currently creating graphics and posters for the growing movement to stop prison and jail expansion in California.

The above 2003 reproduction of Lorraine Schneider, Another Mother for Peace, Inc. 1966 is for sale at the CPSG

Banned Book Update

In pobre Arizona, the list of banned books remains in place, the city's prohibition on ideas continues to enjoy the full force of United States law.

In the United States of America, Carmen Tafolla's beautifully moving collection that lives up to its name, Curandera, is reprinted by Wings Press. The book is banned in Arizona.

La Bloga will have more on this fabulous reprint in a future issue. Here is what Wings says:

This 39th Anniversary Edition of Curandera includes historical photographs of the 1970s-80s movimiento writers in San Antonio, plus a new Afterword by the author, and a new Foreword by professor Norma E. Cantú.

This edition of Curandera is being issued early in order to donate copies to the Librotraficante www.librotraficante.com effort to increase accessibility to books banned in 2012 in Arizona. It will be available exclusively on the Wings Press website until Sept. 1, when it will become available nationwide via our distributor.

La Bloga On-Line Floricanto Ides of April
Joe Navarro, Peter Montgomery, Carmen Calatayud, Andrea Mauk, Pocho Luna

“The Poet/El Poeta” by Joe Navarro
“Bookmobile” by Peter Montgomery
“Burro of the Night” by Carmen Calatayud
“Este poema está dedicado a las mujeres con las palabras” by Andrea Mauk
“La Tata” by Pocho Luna

The Poet/El Poeta
by Joe Navarro

Some days I show my love;
Other days I live in despair.
On some days I simmer in my anger.
My head swells with emotion y
A veces me siento como
Voy a morir de la tristeza.
Pero en algunos días
Me siento como yo puedo
Aliviar los dolores del mundo.
Cada día, each day brings
Tragedy and hope in a World
That lives and dies in the
Same breath that leaves us breathless
From anger, pain or joy.
Así es la vida, llena de emoción.
I live in a World that is filled
With social contradictions
Manifested in political geography,
Official tyranny, and people
Everywhere, whose only hope
Is to wake up in the morning.
Vivo en un mundo de gente
De todas razas y colores,
Y también vivo en una nación
Que tiene el poder de afectar todo.
En mi nación…my nation that I live in,
Where my neighbors have lost
Their homes and students lack
Health care, where the wealthiest of all
Sit atop Mount Olympus smiling down
At the rest of us as we struggle to
Live meaningful lives.  Así somos.
And, I the poet, el poeta…what can
I do?  ¿Qué hacer?
I can remind us that Earth is our mother
Y el sol es nuestro padre.
Puedo compartir los
Sueños e ideales de mis antepasados.
I can send a feather into the sky
With messages of justice,
Equality, dignity, and of democratic
And human rights.  I can inspire dreams
To become realities, by igniting
Imaginations with colorful word
Murals.  Soy poeta, mi destino
Es despertar a la gente con poemas.

--Joe Navarro
© Copyright 2012

by Peter Montgomery

A plain white van hums
down Texas highways
fully packed:
the contraband of history,
literature of subversive solidarity.

In Tucson, Arizona, USA,
students have been “protected”
from Paulo Freiere,
from Gloria Anzaldua,
from Reconsidering Columbus.

But not for long.
Watch out, Sheriff Joe,
Librotraficantes are coming!
Classrooms have been cleansed
but the forbidden fruit of knowledge
is coming to town in a taco truck.

Yes, legislators of Arizona,
You have reason to fear:
Chicanos bearing books!

Burro of the Night
by Carmen Calatayud

Burro of the night, I hear you chew on grass
and sing to the crescent moon.
Each step you take under Venusian light
moves you closer to the silver fence of heaven
that stands between our chests.

I want to rub your back and peer into your ears.
Your sturdy muscular legs remind me
of my own, layers of fat on the verge of collapse.

In the city, shots are fired at women with copper legs
and voices strong from cinnamon coffee that reverberate for miles.

On this land, I’m well aware of books being banned,
a ruler snapping in half as it slaps the head of a student
who aches for simple truth. Each heaving breath he takes at school is a risk.

The stars drip with grief in the aphotic sky
as I touch the fence that holds back your body
from the border. To stroke you is to soothe the cuts.
To watch as you lift your head is to calm the throttle of my heart.  

With you, dear burro, I’m reminded of spirits that remain,
dust that matters, of soil and salt, of your tongue that licks away
pain from Sonoran space.

Este poema está dedicado a las mujeres con las palabras
by Andrea Mauk

Este poema está dedicado a las mujeres con las palabras que me guiaron a través de la oscuridad y ayudaron a que me enseñara lo que soy. (A Personal Poetic Journey through Literature)

When I was not quite a woman, my mom got sick
and left me to fend for myself.
I had no idea about who I was supposed to grow up to be,
just a lot of notions filling my head about  do's and dont's, right and wrong that
were passed down through the generations. I wanted to be
those things, to fold myself neatly inside the box and 
fit into my identity like my favorite pair of jeans,
to hold onto our traditions like water for chocolate,
but my arms, like curious branches
kept poking out through the spaces and grasping for the sun.
I tried to mold myself as a sugar cookie flattened with my mom's
red-handled rolling pin; the person they wanted me to be.

Then someone read me a poem that I wasn't meant to hold onto.
I think it was early Harjo but I can't be sure. 
It told a story of creation, churning, churning,
it turned MacBeth's witches on their ears,
it gave me a vision of how things
began that clicked deep within my psyche.
Oh, yeah. That's the way it was. I get it now.
I found that treasure in an anthology once at Changing Hands Bookstore
there on Mill in Old Town Tempe, 
but I had to choose between buying the book
or paying the electric bill. My heart still holds tight 
the significance of that poem
though I can't remember a word 
and it refuses to come back and reveal itself to me.

No tenía ninguna idea de quién era Joaquín when I first flipped
a page and came across "La Loca de La Raza Cosmica."
All I knew was that whoever LaChrisX was, she understood that
the identity of a woman was as complex as a prism,
as vibrant and colorful as the angle you are viewing from.
I ingested that poem. It became my cells and blood and bones.
It set me free. Soy yo en la multidimensionalidad.

Pat Mora, like a good mom with her warm smile spread across her face like
honey on a cinnamon-warm tortilla, taught me about men, she did,
and a little bit about how to make things right, if I have to, with the ring
from a can of soda so he won't cruelly accuse me of doing things I've never done.
I learned from Pat that you can go to the curandera
to get what you want, but the results of what you ask for
may not result in what you intended. Nothing can make your man 
come back if he doesn't want to, and your neighbors, the 
chismosos that they are, will talk about you anyway, no importa lo que haces.

I learned that words could dance like flowers from Lorna Dee, and that Nana 
could pop up in the mirror and bring kisses from the antepasados,
warm, tender besos that let you know you are loved.
I learned that when all else fails, you can turn to el Santo Nino de Atocha
with an offering of shoes. If you have no shoes left, you must ask
St. Jude. Sandra Cisneros taught me that, and the importance of my given name.
La Llorona, La Malinche, Quetzacoatl, Hernan Cortez and El Cucuy all came to me 
through the stories women etched in words that carried the weight of their voices,
unique, intelligent and proud.

Alma Luz taught me to eat the strange, bitter fruit and be done with it,
to go on and give birth to me. I gathered from Irene Blea that sometimes 
loved ones die tragic deaths amongst those we fear most, and there 
are reasons for that, some we control and some we don't. Viramontes 
and Chavez instructed me on how to show the stories I wanted to tell.
Elena Diaz Bjorkquist grounded her tales in the land of my grandparents
and Stella Pope Duarte showed stories set on the same ground I romped
over as a teenager. It was then I knew that my words, too, had possibilities.

And then there was Christine Marin who instilled in me how important it is to tell
herstory, because someone will always be there to write their version of 

There are so many more names, I could go on forever, but that is not my purpose.
What I'm meaning to say is let the girls read the books and learn from the 
sacred literary circle of my surrogate sisters and tias and mothers, let the 
words of these women fill their hearts and shape their futures
and ripen in their dreams.
Don't be afraid.
Our stories are who we are.

To Tata
by Pocho Luna

Hands like an old leather boot
alone to the elements
red roads laid in the fields
like cracked fleshy canals
watering Fresno's vineyards
with rivers of sorrow
rich soil married to fingernails
nuptials of earthen pain
I hardly knew you Tata
morose in the corner
rolling cigarros after work
remembering Sonoran deserts
but I could read
the chapters of toil
upon your sun-etched face
crying out to grandchildren
novelas of heartaches
written in the thousands of miles
you walked
up and down fruit orchards

“Poet/El Poeta” by Joe Navarro
“Bookmobile” by Peter Montgomery
“Burro of the Night” by Carmen Calatayud
“Este poema está dedicado a las mujeres con las palabras” by Andrea Mauk
“La Tata” by Pocho Luna

Joe Navarro is a literary vato loco, teacher, poet, creative writer, husband, father and grandfather.  Joe integrates his poetic voice with life's experiences, and blends culture with politics.  His poetic influences include the Beat Poets, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Alurista, Gloria Anzaldua, Lalo Delgado and numerous others.

Peter Montgomery's poetry has appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, which also published his article on poet and critic Randall Jarrell.  His poetry was selected for the juried "Poetic Art" show at the Lorton Arts Foundation in 2009.  Peter is a senior fellow at People For the American Way, where he writes about conservative religious and political movements, and is an associate editor at the online magazine Religion Dispatches.  His writing also appears on Huffington Post and AlterNet, and he does freelance writing and editing for progressive nonprofit organizations.  Peter is the author of a chapter on the relationship between the Tea Party and Religious Right movements that will appear in Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party, which is forthcoming in Summer 2012 from the University of California Press in collaboration with The Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements, University of California, Berkeley.  Peter Montgomery is based in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his partner, poet and publisher Dan Vera. 

Carmen Calatayud is a poet and nonfiction writer in Washington, DC. Her first poetry book, In the Company of Spirits, was chosen for the Silver Concho Poetry Series by poets Pamela Uschuk and William Pitt Root, and is forthcoming from Press 53 in September 2012. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cutthroat, PALABRA, and various anthologies, including DC Poets Against the War. Calatayud is a poet moderator for Poets Responding to SB 1070, a Facebook group created by poet Francisco X. Alarcón that features poetry and news about the controversial Arizona immigration law that legalizes racial profiling. 

Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She currently calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions. She writes short fiction,
poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won
awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry is featured in the 2012 Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.” She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has   extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry.

Pocho Luna. "I grew up in Fresno, in a working class Chicano home. My father grew up in makeshift tent communities, picking crops up and down California in the 1950s and 1960s.

During the Mexican revolution my great grandfather, Jesus Luna, crossed the border from Chihuahua into El Paso, then on to Fresno. In 1920 Jesus built an adobe house on the outskirts of the city, it is still our family’s home and the center of our Mexican identity today. I desire to give voice to the experiences of my Chicano family who have gone before, whose spirits walk with me, who whisper in my ear and guide me.

Currently I am a PhD candidate in history at Stanford University. My research involves border issues, Latin American religion, the Cult of Saints in the Hispanic World, Immigration into the Southwest, and the Criminalization of Chicano culture."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good morning, everyone. I am the Editor of Q.VO Magazine BEN-HER MEDIA.

I would like to invite any to submit your poetry for our June Issue. Time is short but if you'd like to submit, please send your poems to coolsecretary_52 @ yahoo.com with a photo, if you can. I am Nadene R Chavez-Lopez on Facebook, as well.

I look forward to hearing from many of you. Also, any language is acceptable.
Sincerely, Nadene