On Poetry and Culture Shock

Translations and adaptations 1

About two years ago, I wanted to send a haiku cycle to a contest but they only accepted submissions much longer that what I had managed to write in Spanish until that moment, long enough to become a book. It didn’t matter, because that forced me to lose my fear of composing poetry in my first language. I had to start by trimming stuff out of the translations of poems in English (that’s always a good rule: when in doubt, simplify). I ended up with a break-up story of sorts, but not a stoy with a beginning and an end. Something like a catalogue of feelings related to a break-up.

Since I started from my poems in English, these poems have three versions: the original English one, the first Spanish translation, which is very faithful to the original content, and the Spanish version that tries to fit into the syllabic pattern of haikus, so the content is no longer so faithful. I'm going to post each threesome individually, and in the hope that the series is interesting for readers who don’t understand Spanish, I will go beyond the usual “this is not autobiographical” disclaimer and explain a bit about how each poem came to be.

Rose became snow became naked branches.
Swimmers turned into monsters.

Rosa se convirtió en nieve se convirtió en ramas desnudas.
Nadadores que se volvieron monstruos.

Era un nadador,
Se convirtió en piraña.
Fue culpa mía.

It was hard to put all I wanted into one poem. This one is autobiographical, for a change. I lived for a year in a house that had a lovely plot of orange roses when I moved into it in September. The snow that fell in winter looked pretty for a short while (this was Aberdeen, where it snows often but it melts quickly). For many depressing months, the bushes were black and leafless. They looked dead. The succession of a burst of beauty followed by something still good but more discreet, followed by misery, was exactly what was going on in my life at the time.

0 comentarios