Enoch Ng Kwang Cheng; translations by Yeo Wei Wei

 

Enoch Ng Kwang Cheng is a poet, literary translator and publisher. Since 1997, Ng has been at the helm of firstfruits publications. In 2005 he won the Golden Point Award for Chinese Poetry. In 1991 his first book of poems were awarded Best First Book by the Taiwanese literary journal “The Modernist”.  His poetry has been featured in journals in Singapore, India, Malaysia and Taiwan, and anthologized in China and Singapore. Ng is one of the awardees of the Singapore National Arts Council Arts Creation Fund 2009.

 

 

Yeo Wei Wei is a teacher, literary translator, and writer. Her interest in translation began during her PhD in English at the University of Cambridge. Her translations have recently been published or are forthcoming in journals in India, Taiwan, and the U. S.  She is currently working on a translation volume of Enoch Ng Kwang Cheng’s poems (to be published in 2010). She lives in Singapore.

 

 
 
 
 

书虫                     
 
毛毛虫
吞吐一部份诗行
成可口香叶
 
一部份张贴在蛹
的内壁
 
取光
 
 
Bookworm                
 
The caterpillar
Munches a few lines
Tasty leaves for its repast
 
Lining the walls of its cocoon
With the uneaten parts of the poem –
 
Therein and whence
The light.
 
 
 
家事       
                                       
(一)灯火  
 
水退以后
额头火红
 
犬吠声
篱笆好
一片月
住下, 就是一生:
 
彩电
蕃薯
枪声
女人
齐齐蹲下
 
凝视远方的老鼠
时间似猫眼
 

(二)马戏

 
独眼牛
在杜撰的钢索上
平衡祖先
了无新意的
困境
 
猪在肥
水灾在雷
 
 
() 晚餐
 
武装
                   革命结束之夜
                   摸着石子
                   过河回来的元帅们
                                            
晚餐生蚝
                    佐以京戏:
                    黑猫 白猫
                    穷追老鼠
 
 
 
 
From Family Matters
 
1. lamp light
 
After the flood recedes
foreheads red as fire
 
dogs barking
sturdy fences
a sliver of moon
To stay is to settle down, a lifetime:
 
colour tv
potatoes
gunfire
womenfolk
neatly crouching
 
time spies on mice in the distance
with watchful cat eyes
 
 
 
2. circus act
 
One-eyed bull
on the steel wire of fancy
calibrates the ancestors’
unoriginal
circumstance
 
pigs fatten
floods follow suit
 
 
 
3. dinner
 
In fatigues
the night the revolution ended
stepping on stones
the generalissimos cross the river, returning
 
raw oysters for dinner
peking opera for company
black cat white cat
hunt in vain for mice
 
 
 
 
十二月                
 
 
如常的警笛声
 
果核纹路分明的下午
 
天蓝如此
 
下课以后球就会滚到另一边
 
雨后无辜的蘑菇
 
则不免让人分心
 
地表, 板块, 土拨鼠: 松动的日子
 
说不定难免就是
 
湿翠的菊花无端开落
 
 
 
december                              
 
the police siren makes familiar rounds
through the seed grooves of an afternoon.
thus the blue sky surveys:
a ball rolls from one end of the court to the other, after class.
mushrooms, newborn after the rain,
daintily lead the eye and mind astray.
these days of unwinding, a palpable reprieve tingling soil and sundry:
earth’s surface, tectonic plates, groundhog.
moments, perhaps, for spectatoring and speculation:
chrysanthemum flowers, bursts of moistened jade, bloom and fade, just so.
 
 
 
 

父亲素描                                  
 
 
晚年
他的脸开满菊花
 
南中国海过的眼睛
不再潮汐
耳,继续路往天籁
鼻穴, 深埋梁祝
嘴, 沉默得很大声
 
唯双眉翔不出
翔不出
铁蒺藜,以及
铁蒺藜那边的泥土
 
 
 
Portrait of My Father                 
 
In the twilight years
His face bloomed into chrysanthemums.
 
The eyes that crossed the South China Sea
Were weaned off the tides.
The ears followed still the trail of nature’s sounds.
The nose, buried deep in the legend of the butterfly lovers,
The mouth spoke loudly without words.
 
Time and again his brows made the mad flight
Flailing again and again
before the barbed wire fence,
exiled by the barbed wire fence,
from the land over there.
 
 
 
想起杜甫                                           
 
纪念与梅剑青同游悉尼的日子
 
风停了废墟开始浮出水面
急急急带雨: 床在异地, 前世是码头
天空系在脑后, 我们是风里来火里去的云
高人江湖满地, 踢踏过唐人街, 已是中年
猿声多一阵少一阵, 人倚斜了天涯
啸过冬天漫长的边境
哀伤的头颅内住着完整的瓷

                                        

 
Remembering Du Fu                                  
 
– in memory of the time spent with Boey Kim Cheng in Sydney
 
After the wind died down, ruins rose from the water.
The rain poured, making haste, making haste:
our beds are remote from home; our past lives, a quay.
 
Sprawling behind the mind is the sky –
while we who have no care, we clouds blazing through wind and fire,
what care have we for the masters? Already there are too many in the world –
enough that Chinatown was our playground until middle age caught us playing truant.
 
Marking the rise and ebb of monkey cries, man leans to rest and the horizon slants.
Ranting and raving along the borderlines of winter;
The pained skull shelters a piece of porcelain, perfection no less.
 
 
 
Note:
In July 2006 I was in Sydney for the launch of Boey Kim Cheng’s book After The Fire: New and Selected Poems. It was a holiday as well as a work trip for me. We spent quite a lot of time traveling by car and we listened to his CDs of Du Fu’s poems.
 
 

 

Ali Alizadeh translates a poem by Besmellah Rezaee

 

Besmellah Rezaee (Hamta) was born in Afghanistan and is an Australian Afghan who currently studies a double degree in Law and International studies at the University of Adelaide. In addition, He works as a Publication officer for Karawaan Organization; he is the executive Director of “Sokhane-nau” magazine, and hosts a show in radio Adelaide called ‘Dialogue’ every Sunday. He is the founder and president of AATSA (Association of Australian Tertiary Students from Afghanistan) at the present and also works as an interpreter with Multilingua ltd. 

 

 

  

اینجا کابل است! 

          اقیانوس درد 

                      ساحل غم 

قصر دارالمان، کوه آسمایی، پل آرتن، زیارت سخی1 

 روزگاری مهد:   

                حاکمیت، غرور، محبت و نیایش بود!  

 سیاهی وهم آلود جهل 

بر کوی و برزن 

بر در و دیوار 

 بر آدم های این سر زمین   

                               سایه افکنده است 

کبوتران “سخی”2 رنگ باخته اند 

“افشار”3 هنوز بوی خون میدهد 

“ده افغانان”4 سینمای حرص و هوس شده است: 

اینجا یکی در پی لقمه نانی 

روزش آغاز و شبش پایان ندارد 

و دیگری در پی لحظه هوسی 

شبش آغاز و روزش پایان ندارد 

دریای کابل

               بی آب و ماهی و موج

                                        در سکوت ابدی محبوس شده است

 کودکان اینجا

               بعد از زمان خویش به دنیا آمده اند

                                                 آنها علم را در دست فروشی فرا میگریند

 “گودارد”5 هم مرده است

  تا اینبار نیوریالیزم را در کابل احیا میکرد.  

اینجا کابل است !  کابل!!!

 

                          

1 نام جاهای معروف در کابل

 2 سخی نام زیارتگاهی است در کارته سخی کابل

 3 افشار نام منطقه است در قسمت غرب کابل که در جریان جنگهای داخلی کشتار دسته جمعی و قتل عام مردم در آنجا صورت گرفت

 4 نام جایی در مرکز شهر کابل

 5 جین لوک گودارد نویسنده و فیلمساز معروف فرانسوی بود که در بنیان گذاری مکتب بنام آتیریزم و فرنچ نیو ویو سهم بارز داشت

 


 

This is Kabul!

The ocean of pain
                   the shore of sorrow
the Dar al-Man palace, the Asemani mountain, the Arten bridge, the Sakhi shrine (1)
a time of cradle:
                    there was sovereignty, pride, kindness and benediction!
Damn the war…
the fearful blackness of ignorance
                                                has cast a shadow
on every quarter and on every district
on the door and the wall
on the people of this land
The pigeons of the Sakhi have lost their colour  (2)
Afshar still reeks of blood (3)
Dah Afghanan has become a cinema of restriction and caprice (4)
Here a person seeking a bite of bread
never starts the day nor ends the night
and another seeking a moment of caprice
never starts the night nor ends the day
The seas of Kabul
                         without water or fish or waves
                                                           are exiled in eternal silence
The children here
                         have been born after their time
                                                           and will be educted in the future through hawking
Godard is also dead (5)
to once again revive neorealism in Kabul.

This is Kabul! Kabul!!!

[author’s footnotes]
(1) names of famous places in Afghanistan
(2)Sakhi is a name of a shrine in Kabul
(3)Afshar is a name of a district in west of Kabul where massacres took place during the civil war
(4)the name of a place in central Kabul
(5) filmmaker

 

 

Ali Alizadeh

 

Ali Alizadeh is an Iranian-born Australian writer. His books include the novel The New Angel (Transit Lounge Publishing, 2008); with Ken Avery, translations of medieval Sufi poetry Fifty Poems of Attar (re.press, 2007); and the collection of poetry Eyes in Times of War (Salt Publishing, 2006). The main themes of his writing are history, spirituality and dissent. His current projects include a nonfiction novel about the life of his grandfather (to be published in 2009) and, with John Kinsella, an anthology of Persian poetry in translation.

 

 

 

Mario Licon Cabrera translates poems by Michael Brennan

 

Mario Licón Cabrera (México, 1949) has lived in Sydney since 1992. His third collection of poetry, La Reverberación de la Ceniza was publshed by Mora & Cantúa Editores in 2005. His work features in an architecture and poetry installation, Metaphors of Space, at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival. He has translated the poetry of Dorothy Porter, Judith Beveridge, Peter Boyle, J.S. Harry, Robert Adamson, amongst other Australian poets, into Spanish. His collection, Yuxtas, a bilingual collection (Spanish/English), written with the assistance of a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts/Literature Board. These poems are selected translations from Michael Brennan’s latest collection, Unanimous Night, which is short-listed in the NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

 

Carta a casa /2
 
Llegó Noviembre.
Meses más cáldos en gestación,
bandejas con tuberculos a la vista, tulipanes,
azafrán, lirios, robustas y doradas ofrendas
limpias de la negra tierra del norte,
nombres tan brillantes y extraños como un rezo:
Azul Delft, Juana de Arco, Remembranza,
nombres, los misterios ordinaries,
La señora de John T. Scheepers, Groenlandia,
Perico negrot, El récord del portero,
cada quien a la espera de ásperas manos
para regresarlos a la tierra oscura,
para ser enterrados
en paciente incertidumbre,
y esperar
hasta el fin del invierno.

Letter home

November already.
Warmer months finding form,
trays of bulbs laid out, tulips, crocus,
lilies, fat and golden offerings
brushed clean of black northern earth,
names bright and strange as prayer :
Delft Blue, Jeanne d’Arc, Remembrance,
names, the ordinary mysteries,
Mrs John T. Scheepers, Groenland,
Black Parrot, Doorman’s Record,
each waiting for weathered hands
to give them back to blind earth,
to bury them
in patient unknowing,
and wait
until winter’s end.

 

Carta a casa /3
 
Debo decirles, que no hay nada como el hogar.
Ninguno de ellos piensa que soy un forastero.
Me reciben en sus casas con manos
toscas y me brindan deliciosos manjares.
Después de cada comida, ellos frotan mis cejas
y mi barba, y secan las lágrimas
que por meses han corrido por mis mejillas
al viajar de pueblo en pueblo.
Me dicen que ellos son forasteros aquí,
y en la fresca atmósfera nocturna
cuelgan sus palabras por tal cosa,
entre la suava caricia de la barba
y los tiernos ojos del más viejo de ellos.
Me dicen que pronto me dejaran,
pro que en su ausencia debo seguir con los banquetes
que alguien vendrá y yo debo recibirlo,
no debo hablar de más, pero sí alimentar al invitado
y después secar sus lágrimas. Antes de irme debo decirle
que está en su casa, que él aquí no es un forastero.
Ellos dicen, ninguno de estos es forastero.
Ellos dicen, que esperaran por mí en el próximo pueblo
con sus manos gentiles y sus alegres ojos,
que el tren me llevará allá, y en el camino
podré escuchar el llanto del hombre viejo
y dejar a la tierna noche tocar mi rostro,
podré recordar los manjares caseros,
y esperar a que el silencio tenga lo suyo.
Dicen, cuando nos encontremos en el próximo pueblo,
ellos me lo explicaran todo. bare

Letter home

I should tell you, it’s nothing like home.
Not one of them thinks of me as a stranger.
They welcome me to their houses with rough
hands and feed me delicious feasts.
After each meal, they stroke my eyebrows
and beard, and dry the tears
that have run down my cheeks over months
travelling from town to town.
They tell me they are stranger here,
hanging their word for such things
in the cool night air, between the beard-stroking
and the young eyes of the oldest among them.
They say soon they will leave me,
but I am to keep feasting in their absence,
that someone will come and I must invite him in,
I must not say too much, but feed him and afterwards
dry his tears. Before I leave, I must tell him
this is his home now, that he is no stranger here.
They say, none of this is strange.
They say, they will wait for me in the next town
with their gentle hands and playful eyes,
that the train will take me there, and on the way
I can listen to the old man’s crying
and let the lightness of night find my face,
I can remember the feasts from home,
and wait for silence to have its fill.
They tell me, when we meet in the next town,
they will explain it all.

 

Carta a casa /4
 
Estás cerca,
tu aliento agitándose
entre los cedres
de ochocientos años de edad,
piedras
erosionadas
por cosas invisibles,
particulas de arena
y rocas,
flotantes
en la brisa,
la insignificancia
definiéndolo todo,
aquí donde un poeta
observó
nada
más
que el paso
de una estación,
y el aire otoñal
entibiando
el aliento,
y así
continuamos
nuestro ascenso lento,
un millar y
cuatrocientos
cincuenta escalones 
tallados en piedra
de esta montaña,
erigiéndose,
nombrando el templo
donde nos sentamos.
La vista,
el valle
que emerge,
hojas castañs
dadas
a un frío filoso y quemante,
el verde profundo
de los árboles añejos
en total quietud,
la brisaa ancestral
ahora corriendo veloz,
invisible y suave
a través de las piedras
suave a través
de la superficie
de nuestros ojos,
partículas
invisibles
interminablemente
borrando
cada
cosa.



Letter Home

You are close,
breath drawing
fast amongst
eight hundred
year old cedars,
stones
weathered bare
by invisible things,
specks of sand
and rock,
carried
on the breeze,
insignificance
shaping everything,
here where a poet
noted
nothing
more
than a season
passing
and autumn air
warmed
on breath
and so
we continue
our slow ascent
one thousand
four hundred
and fifty steps
of stone hewn
from this
mountain
rising
naming
the temple
where we sit
the view
the valley
appearing now
russet leaves
given
to a sharp cold fire
the deep green
of ancient trees
holding still,
the ancient breeze
running fast now
smooth and invisible
across stones,
smooth across
the surfaces
of our eyes,
invisible  
flecks
endlessly
erasing 
each
thing.

 

Carta a casa /6
 
La primavera empiiza su lento striptease.
La gente con menos ropa cada día.
 
Los pesados abriigos de lana dan paso al algodón,
a las líneas curvas de caderas, pechos y nalgas.
 
Escucho la música que me enseñaste,
esa que se ubica lentamente entre cada cosa.
 
Esas palabras extrañas –Gentileza, amistad,
afecto –todavía más extrañas al decirlas
 
en la lengua que se habla aquí.
Sentado percibo el oleaje de la gente,
 
a ratos saboreándolo con una sonrisa
o con el trunco lenguaje
 
que estoy aprendiendo, confíanza
y gentileza hablan por todas partes,
 
Atento escucho expresiones de mi país
transformándose en otro lenguaje
 
entre amigos conversando
amontonados, la percusión suave
 
de una pareja joven, protejiéndose
del crudo ambiente invernal.
 
Desplazo mis dedos a lo largo de palabras
como si cada palabra fuera una plegaria.

Letter Home

Spring starts its slow striptease.
Each day people are wearing less,

thick woollen coats give way to cotton,
irmer lines of hips, buttocks and breasts.

I listen for the music you taught me,
one that settles slowly between each thing.

Those strange words — kindness, friendship,
care — stranger  still  spoken

in the language spoken here.
I sit sensing the tide of people,

sometimes testing it with a smile
or with the broken language

I’m learning, trust
kindness speaks anywhere.

I listen carefully to idioms of home
rising in another language

between friends huddled 
in conversation, the gentle percussion

of a young couple sheltering
from late winter air.

I run my finger along words
as if each word was a prayer.

 

Sarah Kirsch: translations by Peter Lach-Newinsky

Born in 1935 in Limlingerode, a hamlet in the formerly East German part of the Harz Mountains, Sarah Kirsch is considered one of the most luminous figures on the reunited German poetic horizon. She has written several collections of poetry, and has been critical of socialist regimes and anti-semitism. Her awards, include the Georg Büchner, the Friedrich Hölderlin and the Petrarca Prizes; her credo is to live like a poem.

 

 

Raben


Die Bäume in diesen windzerblasenen

Das Land überrollenden Himmeln

Sind höher als die zusammengeduckten

Gluckenähnlichen Kirchen, und Wolken

Durchfliegen die Kronen die Vögel

Steigen von Ast zu Ast kohlschwarze Raben

Flattern den heidnischen Göttern

Hin auf die Schultern und krächzen

Den Alten die Ohren voll alle Sterblichen

Werden verpfiffen schlappe Seelen

Über den Wurzeln und ohne Flügel.

 

 

Atempause


Der Himmel ist rauchgrau aschgrau mausgrau

Bleifarben steingrau im Land

Des Platzregens der Dauergewitter

Die aufgequollenen Wiesen die Gärten

Verfaulen und Hunden sind übernacht

Flossen gewachsen sie tauchen

Nach jedem silbernen Löffel der

Aus dem Fenster fällt wenn augenblicklich

Behäbige Marmeladen bereitet werden

In Küchen bei gutem Wetter durchflogen

Von Bäurinnen Heu im Gewand Dampf

Im Hintern auf Rübenhacken am Mittag.

 

 

Süß langt der Sommer ins Fenster


Süß langst der Sommer ins Fenster

Seine Hände gebreitet wie Linden

Reichen mir Honig und quirlende Blüten, er

Schläfert mich ein, wirft Lichter und Schatten

Lockige Ranken um meine Füße, ich ruh

Draußen gern unter ihm, die Mulden

Meiner Fersen seiner Zehen fülln sich zu Teichen

Wo mir der Kopf liegt polstert die Erde

Mit duftenden Kräutern mein eiliger Freund, Beeren

Stopft er mir in mein Mund, getigerte Hummeln

Brummen den Rhythmus, schöne Bilder

Baun sich am Himmel auf

Heckenrosenbestickt er den Leib mir – ach gerne

Höb ich den Blick nicht aus seinem Blau

Wären nicht hinter mir die Geschwister

Mit Minen und Phosphor, jung

Soll ich dahin, mein Freund auch aus der Welt –

Ich beklag es, die letzten Zeilen des

Was ich schreibe, gehen vom Krieg

Ravens


the trees in these wind-blown

skies rolling over the land

are taller than the churches

hunched up like clucky hens, and clouds

fly through the tree tops the birds

move from branch to branch coal-black ravens

flutter down onto the shoulders

of pagan gods and croak up

the elders’ ears all mortals

dobbed in weak souls

above the roots and wingless.

 

 

Breath Pause


the sky is smoke grey ash grey mouse grey

lead grey stone grey in the land

of sudden showers of continuous thunder

the bloated meadows the gardens

rotting and dogs during the night

have grown fins they dive

after every silver spoon that

falls from the window when instantly

portly marmalades are being made

in kitchens flown through in fine weather

by farmers’ wives with hay in their pants

steam in their bums on turnip fields at noon.

 

 

Sweetly summer reaches through the window


Sweetly summer reaches through the window

His hands spread out like lindens

Serve me honey and spiralling blossoms, he

Puts me to sleep, throws light and shade

Curly tendrils around my feet, I

Love resting under him outside, the depressions

Of my heels of his toes are filled into ponds

Where my head lies the ground cushions

With aromatic herbs my hasty friend, berries

He stuffs into my mouth, tigered bumble bees

Buzz the rhythm, fine images

Build up in the sky

He embroiders my body with wild roses – oh

I’d love to not look up from his blue

If there weren’t brothers and sisters behind me

With mines and phosphorous, young

Am I to leave, my friend, the world too –

I lament the last lines of what

I write run to war

 

 

Landaufenthalt

 

Morgens füttere ich den Schwan abends die Katzen dazwischen

Gehe ich über das Gras passiere die verkommenen Obstplantagen

Hier wachsen Birnbäume in rostigen Öfen, Pfirsichbäume

Fallen ins Kraut, die Zäune haben sich lange ergeben, Eisen und Holz

Alles verfault und der Wald umarmt den Garten in einer Fliederhecke

 

Da stehe ich dicht vor den Büschen mit nassen Füßen

Es hat lange geregnet, und sehe die tintenblauen Dolden, der Himmel

Ist scheckig wie Löschpapier

Mich schwindelt vor Farbe und Duft doch die Bienen

Bleiben im Stock selbst die aufgesperrten Mäuler der Nesselblüten

Ziehn sie nicht her, vielleicht ist die Königin

Heute morgen plötzlich gestorben die Eichen

 

Brüten Gallwespen, dicke rosa Kugeln platzen wohl bald

Ich würde die Bäume gerne erleichtern doch der Äpfelchen

Sind es zu viel sie erreichen mühlos die Kronen auch faßt

Klebkraut mich an, ich unterscheide Simsen und Seggen so viel Natur

 

Die Vögel und schwarzen Schnecken dazu überall Gras Gras das

Die Füße mir feuchtet fettgrün es verschwendet sich

Noch auf dem Schuttberg verbirgt es Glas wächst

    in aufgebrochne Matratzen ich rette mich

Auf den künstlichen Schlackenweg und werde wohl bald

In meine Betonstadt zurückgehen hier ist man nicht auf der Welt

Der Frühling in seiner maßlosen Gier macht nicht halt, verstopft

Augen und Ohren mit Gras die Zeitungen sind leer

Eh sie hier ankommen der Wald hat all seine Blätter und weiß

Nichts vom Feuer

 

 

In the Country

 

Mornings I feed the swans evenings the cats in between

I walk over grass pass by the ruined orchards

Pear trees grow in rusty ovens, peach trees

Collapse into grass, the fences have long surrendered, iron and wood

Everything rotten and the woods embrace the garden in a lilac bush

 

There I stand with wet feet close to the bushes

It has rained a long time, and I see the ink blue umbels, the sky

Is spotty like blotting paper

I’m dizzy with colour and smells but the bees

Stay in the hive even the gaping mouths of the nettle blossoms

Don’t pull them over, perhaps the queen

Suddenly died this morning the oaks

 

Breed gall wasps, thick red balls will probably soon burst

I’d love to lighten the trees but there are too many little apples

They effortlessly reach the crowns and cleevers

Grab me, I distinguish reeds and sedges so much nature

 

The birds and black snails and everywhere grass grass that

Moistens my feet fat-green it squanders itself

Even on the tip it hides glass grows in broken mattresses I flee

onto the artificial cinder path and will presumably soon

return to my concrete city here you’re not in the world

spring doesn’t let up in its bottomless greed, stuffs

eyes and ears with grass the newspapers are empty

before they arrive here the wood is in full leaf and knows

nothing about fire

 

 

 

Peter Lach-Newinsky is of German-Russian heritage, Peter grew up bilingually in Sydney. His awards include the MPU First Prize 2009, Third Prize Val Vallis Award 2009, MPU Second Prize 2008, Second Prize Shoalhaven Literary Award 2008 and the Varuna-Picaro Publishing Award 2009. He has published a chapbook: The Knee Monologues & Other Poems (Picaro Press 2009). His first full-length collection is The Post-Man Letters & Other Poems (Picaro Press 2010). Peter grows 103 heirloom apple varieties in Bundanoon NSW.



Gabriela Mistral: translation by Stuart Cooke

Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) was born in the small northern-Chilean town of Vicuña. She rose from near-poverty to acheive a significant international reputation not only as a poet, but also as an educator, a diplomat and a journalist. In 1945 she became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

 

La Bailarina

La bailarina ahora está danzando
la danza del perder cuanto tenía.
Deja caer todo lo que ella había,
padres y hermanos, huertos y campiñas,
el rumor de su río, los caminos,
el cuento de su hogar, su propio rostro
y su nombre, y los juegos de su infancia
como quien deja todo lo que tuvo
caer de cuello, de seno y de alma.

En el filo del día y el solsticio
baila riendo su cabal despojo.
Lo que avientan sus brazos es el mundo
que ama y detesta, que sonríe y mata,
la tierra puesta a vendimia de sangre
la noche de los hartos que no duermen
y la dentera del que no ha posada.

Sin nombre, raza ni credo, desnuda
de todo y de sí misma, da su entrega,
hermosa y pura, de pies voladores.
Sacudida como árbol y en el centro
de la tornada, vuelta testimonio.

No está danzando el vuelo de albatroses
salpicados de sal y juegos de olas;
tampoco el alzamiento y la derrota
de los cañaverales fustigados.
Tampoco el viento agitador de velas,
ni la sonrisa de las altas hierbas.

El nombre no le den de su bautismo.
Se soltò de su casta y de su carne
sumiò la canturía de su sangre
y la balada de su adolescencia.

Sin saberlo le echamos nuestras vidas
como una roja veste envenenada
y baila así mordida de serpientes
que alácritas y libres la repechan,
y la dejan caer en estandarte
vencido o en guirnalda hecha pedazos.

Sonámbula, mudada en lo que odia,
sigue danzando sin saberse ajena
sus muecas aventando y recogiendo
jadeadora de nuestro jadeo,
cortando el aire que no la refresca
única y torbellino, vil y pura.

Somos nosotros su jadeado pecho,
su palidez exangüe, el loco grito
tirado hacia el poniente y el levante
la roja calentura de sus venas,
el olvido del Dios de sus infancias.

The Dancer

Now the dancer is dancing
the dance of losing what she was.
Now the dancer lets it all fall away,
parents, siblings, orchards and idylls,
her river’s murmur, the pathways,
the story of her home, her own face
and her name, and her childhood dreams,
as if letting everything that she was
fall from her neck, her breast, her being.

On the edge of the day the solstice curls
around what remains dancing in a delirious swirl.
Her pale arms are winnowing away the world
that loves and detests, that kills and jests,
the earth crushed into a bloody wine,
the night of the multitudes who don’t sleep,
the pain of those without homes in which to rest.

Without name, race or creed, without relation
to anything nor to her herself, she shows her devotion,
beautiful and pure, with flying feet.
Shaken like a young tree in the tornado’s eye,
the proof emerges and cannot lie.

She isn’t dancing the albatrosses’ flight,
birds covered with playful waves’ salty bites,
nor the uprising and the defeat
of reeds pummelled by the wind,
nor the candles that the wind perturbs,
nor the smiles of the tallest herbs.

They didn’t baptise her with this name.
She broke free of her caste and her flesh;
she buried the soft song of her blood
and the ballad of her adolescence.

Without knowing it we throw our lives
over her like a poisoned red bodice
and she dances like this, snake-bitten,
the vipers swarming over her freely,
leaving her to fall as a forgotten
symbol, or as a garland smashed to pieces.

Sleepwalker, becoming what she despises,
she keeps dancing without thought of the changes,
her expressions and myriad contortions,
exhausted by our own exhaustion,
blocking off the breeze because it doesn’t cool her,
unique and electric, vile and pure.

We ourselves are her panting chest,
her bloodless pallor, the crazy scream
thrown to the east and the west,
the red fever of her arteries,
she has forgotten the God of her infancies.

 

Stuart Cooke’s translations have also appeared in HEAT, Southerly and Overland. His translation of Juan Garrido-Salgado’s Once Poemas, Septiembre 1973 was published by Picaro Press in 2007. A chapbook of his own poetry, Corrosions, is forthcoming from Vagabond Press.
 
 
 

Judith Beveridge: Video translation by Prometeo

 

Featured poet, Judith Beveridge has published four books of poetry: The Domesticity of Giraffes (Black Lightning Press, 1987), Accidental Grace (UQP, 1996), Wolf Notes (Giramondo Publishing 2003), Storm and Honey (Giramondo Publishing 2009). She has won many awards for her poetry including the NSW Premier’s Award, The Victorian Premier’s Award and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. In 2005 she was awarded the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for excellence in literature. She is currently the poetry editor for Meanjin and teaches poetry writing at postgraduate level at the University of Sydney.

This poem was video translated at the  Memoria del Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín, Colombia. The International Poetry Festival at Medellin was founded by Feranando Rendón "to oppose terror with beauty, to bring poetry face to face with violent death. We interpreted the love of poetry and the will to live of thousands of people, at the right moment." (Poetry International Web, July 2007) In 2006 the festival was awarded the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.

La poeta australiana Judith Beveridge interviene en el curso del IX Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín, leyendo un poema que contiene una dura metáfora sobre la melancolía y la hecatombe. Judith Beveridge nació en Londres, en 1956. Vive en Australia. Ha publicado los libros de poemas: La domesticidad de las jirafas (1987); Un paracaídas de azul (1995) y La gracia accidental (1996). Ha ganado diversos premios de Poesía en Australia. Se ha desempeñado como docente de Literatura y como colaboradora habitual de revistas y periódicos en su país. Fue incluida en la Antología de Poesía Contemporánea de Australia, editada por Trilce Editores, Bogotá, 1997.

 

 

Gurcharan Rampuri translated by Amritjit Singh and Judy Ray

Gurcharan Rampuri  (born 1929) has been writing poetry in Punjabi for six decades. Author of ten volumes of poetry, he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1964. He has won many awards, and his poems have been translated into many languages, including Russian, Hindi, Gujarati, and English. His Collected Poems appeared in India in 2001. Many of his lyrical poems have been set to music and sung by well-known singers such as Surinder Kaur and Jagjit Zirvi.  He has won numerous awards in both India and Canada, including the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Punjabi Writers Forum of Vancouver, as well as the 2009 Achievement Award for Contributions to Punjabi Literature from the University of British Columbia.

 

 

Amritjit Singh, Langston Hughes Professor of English at Ohio University, is a freelance writer, editor, translator, and book reviewer. He has authored and co-edited well over a dozen books, including The Novels of the Harlem Renaissance; Indian Literature in English, 1827-1979: An Information Guide; India: An Anthology of Contemporary Writing; Conversations with Ralph Ellison; Postcolonial Theory and the United States; The Collected Writings of Wallace Thurman; and Interviews with Edward W. Said

 

 

 


Judy Ray
grew up on a farm in Sussex, England, and has lived in Uganda, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Currently she lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she is a volunteer ESL teacher. Her books and chapbooks include Pebble Rings, Pigeons in the Chandeliers, The Jaipur Sketchbook, Tokens, Tangents, Fishing in Green Waters, and To Fly without Wings.  With poet David Ray, she has edited Fathers: A Collection of Poems (St. Martin’s, 1997).

 

 

Ghazal

 

Love smiles when it stumbles.
A star shines throughout its fall.

It takes an age to numb just one pain.
The next moment awakens another hundred.

How can one sleep when longing for the absent one,
And who will sleep on the night of love?

Sadness is my only companion.
Who would befriend me in my melancholy?

The peacocks cry even as they dance.
The swan sings even as it dies.

Beauty yearns for love
as surely as the moon goes around the earth.

One thought contains the universe.
The moon illumines a dewdrop.

 

 


Ghazal

 

I have just burned your letters.
Look, I have bathed in the fire!

Through this pilgrimage to the grave of love
I have revived forgotten pains.

The smooth dark night of your hair –
my fingers have caressed its lush shadows.

I have spent a tearful night
and the dawn is red-eyed.

I have consoled my weeping heart
by imagining scenes of intimacy.

The stars want an encore
though I am done telling my tale.

Life is both sorrow and music,
and I just sang your song.

To light up a glimpse of you in my dreams
I extinguish my own lamp.

Songs, Promises, Tears, Hopes
have won over my estranged lover.
 

 

 

Pet Lies

 

Lies, lies, lies all the time, repeated
until they become today’s truth.
 
A lie sits in the seat of power,
lies are armed with daggers,
lies have many followers.
 
The platform sure is crowded, in thick fog,
with the confused old holy man in command at the center.
A deafening racket blasts all around
and dark clouds of ruthless death
overshadow the skies.
 
Brutality, rage, fear and helplessness prevail,
but we cannot escape the need for food.
The terrifying abyss of need has deepened.
Death lies in ambush at every corner.
 
There is someone walking toward me,
but I don’t know if he is friend or foe.
Should I trust his smile, or is it poison?
I will not make eye contact with him,
weighed down as I am by guilt
of sins I didn’t commit.

These cheats and cowardly braggarts
keep on throwing dust in the people’s eyes,
leading them on with deceitful, well-rehearsed lies.
 
Professional politicians on the one hand
and the ruling elite on the other,
together they have built their empire of lies.

 

Opportunists

 

Yesterday’s friends are today’s foes.

Even a brother has a sinister look about him. 

Now he accuses with stinging words.

Blood relationships are meaningless. 

Today, venomous arrows, daggers, poniards, lances

are plunged into the hearts of one’s own.

 

Yesterday’s enemies are in close embrace today.

With wounds from the sword healed,

these sycophants ignore the poison of hate in their hearts

as they dance to the pipes of self-interest,

kiss and lick each other.

 

Labels pinned on one person yesterday

are now used for another.

Those who were called corrupt

are now held to be virtuous. 

It is easy to line up arguments

to justify any good or bad deeds.

 

Since the dead will not return,

who will want to lose today’s profit for their sake?

In pursuing a dream of ideals,

who will ignore the weight of power?

Who will sacrifice national interests

and ignore the lines that divide communities?

 

Who can beat these sharp villains in glib debate?

So what if they commit awful deeds?

 


Today

 

Yesterday was bearing

a dream called Today.

 

Revolutionary fervor for the dream

powered a restless sleep.

 

The enchanting dream

smiled like a golden dawn.

 

The cursed mother committed

a horrendous crime, killed the newborn dream.

Then with a wild laugh

she went alone and buried the baby.

 

Yesterday bore Today,

but Today also had a dream which the mother killed.

Now the stunned, murderous soul

stares at the empty space.