13 October 2010

Poem of the Week: Pedres (Stones) by Gemma Gorga

Two Catalan writers stopped by Poets House on Wednesday for a lunchtime reading and chat, Portuguese novelist and food writer Paulo Moreiras and Spanish poet Gemma Gorga.

Any translators out there, PLEASE take a look at their work and help bring it into English, they're both terrific!

Here is a translation of one of the poems that Ms Gorga read for us that I particularly enjoyed, with a video of her reading it in in Catalan.


If the voice could come out in photographs
in the way shadow or tenderness does -- even while
being more vulnerable realities -- I would hear
once again my father telling me that, before
picking up a stone, you should roll it over
with your foot or a branch to scare away
the scorpions hiding underneath like dry thorns.
I never worried about that. Being six years old
was simple, simple as dying. In both cases,
there was no secret other than the air:
breathing it or not breathing it, as if the soul
were full of tiny alveoli that open
and close. The first scorpion I saw
was in the natural science book,
trapped forever in the severe pincers
of time. On occasion, though, books don't tell
the whole truth, as if they didn't know it
or had forgotten it on the way from the printer's.
Arachnid with body divided into abdomen
and cephalothorax. It said nothing of the burning
sun in the tongue, of fear, of the spike
pierced into the neck. I didn't know then
what words were immense icebergs
hiding beneath their icy waters much
more than they show. Like the word scorpion.
And now, as the phone insistently rings
-- a sharp daybreak cry -- as I get up,
turn on the light, move my hand to its white body
of plastic that shines like a stone in the sun,
as I pick it up and say yes? and someone tells me you're dead,
I only think of scorpions, of what
you wanted to tell me when you repeated roll
the stones over, please, roll the stones over.

(from El desordre de les mans, 2003, Translated by Julie Wark)

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