Monday, July 14, 2014

Images in Words

Images in Words:
Recreating la poesía by José María Hinojosa
Translated from the Spanish by Mark Statman

Reviewed by Xánath Caraza

BlackTulips: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa (UNO Press, 2012), “Foreword” by Willis Barnstone, accomplishes several tasks: an introduction to José María Hinojosa’s work and then translation and poetic recreation in English by Mark Statman. 

The lyric strength that José María Hinojosa expressly left in his poetry of pre-Civil War Spain, as part of the Generation of ‘27, creates a voyage through time through Mark Statman’s impeccable translation in 2012.  Through the prism of this treatise, the interpretive expertise proliferates; “A splinter of light pierces the black tulips”, being in the place of the other, becoming one with the phrases of the other, being of another context is the edge that Black Tulips asserts.   Statman revives a poet who was nearly forgotten.  For the delight of readers, Statman has recreated Hinojosa’s poetry in this translation.
Black Tulips brings to life an almost forgotten poet.  Due to Hinojosa’s right-wing conservative political convictions, different from mine, he became a persona non-grata among the rest of the Generation of ’27 in Spain.  In a role as literary detective, Statman understands the political context of pre-Civil War Spain and rediscovers Hinojosa.  However, Statman doesn’t conform with rediscovering Hinojosa; he recreates the lyrical strength of Hinojosa’s poetry in English, as the reader can see in “Relief”, where an innocent stroll along the sea shore portraits the mystical within the ordinary in the eyes of Hinojosa.  Statman’s translation of the first stanza is as follows:

I carry two lights at a time,
placed over my pupils
and I run without stopping
seeking on the shores
in vain,
the light that will fill my vision

 At first glance Black Tulips is a book that takes the reader’s breath away.  By re-reading Black Tulips, it is a book that celebrates each of the images from Hinojosa’s poetry as well as from the translations recreating what Statman carefully elaborated as in “Viento en el bosque”/”Wind in the Forest”.  For this poem, it is challenging to distinguish which one is the original text and which one is the translation.

Luz de fondo de mar
es la luz de los bosques.

Siempre es un tronco más
el cuerpo de algún hombre.

Luz de fondo de mar
y arriba el temporal.

Arrugado en la atmósfera,
olas de verde vienen,
olas de verde van.

The light at the bottom of the ocean
is the light of the forests.

The body of a man
is always one more trunk.

Light at the bottom of the ocean
and above the storm.

Wrinkling the atmosphere
green waves come,
green waves go.
There are five books of poetry by Hinojosa that Statman introduces in Black Tulips: Poem of the Country (1924), Poetry in Silhouette (1926), The Rose of the Winds (1926), Shores of Light (1927) y Blood in Freedom (1931). In Black Tulips, the reader may perceive Hinojosa’s evolution from the poetry of the land, el campo, to surrealist images until reaching the personal, love and courtship.  Among the poems that reflect the passion for el campo, the land, “Harvest” is one of my favorite poems that Statman delicately recreates. Personally, I can hear the song of summer and feel the silence of air.

These ears of grain
the song of summer

A silence of air
makes silent
the fields.

Reaper of songs
place your scythe
in these fields
and cut in their time
the song of the oceans.

            Complementing Statman’s poetic talent in this translation, I would also like to mention the artistic talent of Katherine Koch’s elegant painting which celebrates “Sueños”/ “Dreams” on the cover of Black Tulips.

Smear your body
with darkness
and silence
and you may raise
the cup of dreams.

Mark Statman is the author of A Map of the Wind (Lavander Ink, 2013), Tourist at a Miracle (Hanging Loose, 2010) and, with Pablo Medina, Federico García Lorca’s Poet in New York (Grove, 2008).  Other books include Listener in the Snow: The Practice and Teaching of Poetry (Teachers & Writers, 2000) and The Alphabet of the Trees: A Guide to Nature Writing (Teachers & Writers, 2000).  His work has been published in numerous publications and anthologies.  He is Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School for the Liberal Arts. Statman enjoys dancing ritmos cubanos and cooking Cuban food, la comida de su niñez.
tchung Books, Watchung, NJ
Sometime late February--New Orleans!!!!
At AWP Boston, early March, look for signings and readings

Black Tulips is available on Amazon and for more information on the translator and poet go to  

Poet, Mark Statman enjoys dancing ritmos cubanos and cooking Cuban food, la comida de su niñez.

Mark Statman’s recent books are two of poetry, A Map of the Winds (Lavender Ink, 2013) and Tourist at a Miracle (Hanging Loose, 2010), and two of translation, Black Tulips: The Selected Poems of José María Hinojosa (University of New Orleans, 2012) and, with Pablo Medina, Federico García Lorca's Poet in New York (Grove 2008). An Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, his work has been nominated for numerous prizes, including the Pushcart Prize and the National Translation Award, appears in nine anthologies, and such publications as Tin House, South Dakota Review, Hanging Loose, and APR. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Writers Project, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Joseph Murphy Scholar (Columbia), in September 2013, he signed a three book contract with Lavender Ink, two for original poems, one for translation. The first of these, That Train Again (poems), will appear in early 2015.

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