Tag Archives: literature

Map and territory: LIFE TRANSLATED FOR OTHERS (3)

by Santiago Barcaza S.

When the Nobel Prize was given to Beckett, the Swedish Academy considered the set of its texts in English and French as a single work and at the award ceremony, its dedication to “one man, two languages ​​and a third nation” [ Ireland]”.

Beckett is the self-translator who has received more attention and more studies have been done since he was the first to arouse interest in self-translation as a subject of study (Cohn, 1961). The anecdote is the following: the impossibility of finding an English publisher for his texts, considered at the time as untranslatable, caused the author to translate into French his work Murphy, written in English and published in 1938. From 1946, Beckett writes only in French, something that is quite difficult for him, and he translates himself into English. The recognition comes in 1953, year of the appearance of En attendant Godot and Trilogie. The self-translation into English of the first, Waiting for Godot, appears a year later, in 1954, when it is reconciled with the English language. From that moment on, he continues writing in both languages ​​and exchanging the directions of the self-translation.

By the way, to the question, why self-translate? It is not difficult to understand the eagerness of authors like Tagore or Beckett to reach more readers, to ambition as soon as possible a place in the history of universal literature. But there is also another literature. There is a literature that comes from the bosom of cultures that resist extinction, languages ​​that do not give ground to the languages ​​of the colonizers.

odi gonzales
The poet Odi Gonzales

I held a conversation with Odi Gonzales (Cuzco, 1961), poet, translator, self-translator, professor and researcher at NYU, where among other topics we spoke about the Quechua language and its resistance. Here are some fragments of that conversation:

“In a language in danger of extinction, the passage of time will always generate profits and losses. For example, the advent of technological devices and the Internet allow you to communicate with monolingual children from a rural school in the Andes and record the conversation; or make documentaries, movies, photography, etcetera. These records are documents that will not be deleted, they will survive the speakers themselves. That is a gain. But at the same time, these media, with hegemony in Castilian or English, are undermining the speech of monolinguals or bilinguals, who tend to use more the acquired language, to incorporate neologisms into their lexicon”.

And with regard to the orality of the Quechua language, he tells us:

“For example, in the Quechua oral stories, there is no omniscient narrator, since that would make the story implausible: the narrator can not be in two places at once, or know what his characters think. On the other hand, in writing [in the dominant language], the omniscient narrator is crucial, indispensable. Likewise, we believed that Joyce had invented the interior monologue in Ulysses, that paradigm of the modern novel. But the truth is that internal monologue is common practice of oral languages. In Quechua, it is configured exclusively with the pronoun us (ñoqayku), which involves the narrator and his immediate surroundings. The poet speaks for himself and for his own, not for others. The great difference between the interior monologue of a foxs tale and that of Ulysses, is the extension. By its nature, the inner monologue of an oral story is short, precise and concrete, composed only a sentence or two. Instead, Bloom’s inner monologue is a 42-page stream”.

(You can check the complete interview in Spanish here)

With Quechua, Odi talks to us about a kind of oraliture (?). The translations come and go, from the first to the second language and vice versa, and in the turns the words are polished together like stones. As explained by Odi, oral literature as an artistic expression of the Andean cosmovision, marks a cultural continuity between what has been and what it is today. Authors who live in communities and in cities, who permanently travel the path between both spaces. Making their lives territory of coexistence and conflict: between tradition and modernity, between the community and the individual, between the original language and the imposed language. But at the same time, translating, or rather self-translating, the complex message that is transmitted from the oral to the written, and vice versa. Because after all, how do you create a literature that is not written?

Map and territory. A fictitious and real construction at the same time, by authors descendants of peoples and subjugated cultures. A fiction that delimits a territory with diffuse borders, with authors whose mother tongue is the dominant one, but who possess the strength to fulfill the mission of not turning their back on their ancestors.

In the next installment, we will approach the work of Mapuche poets, from the Kenyan Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and we will follow the dialogue with Rodrigo Rojas.


Chilean Popular Poetry and Biblical Psalms

Martinez, Chile, Santiago Figueroa

Santiago Figueroa. Folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music.

by Fernanda Martinez Varela, MA scholar at MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish. 

Shortly after arriving in Chile, I went to the public library of Doñihue in order to search for bibliographic material and, fortunately, there I met Santiago Figueroa Torres; a folklorist, researcher and expert in popular music. Talking informally while drinking coffee, I explained to him my thoughts about this investigation and he gave me his vision as an expert on the subject. Consequently, aided by this chance, his insights have served me as a guide for reading the bibliographic material found and redefining my research question.

What similarities exist between the Cantus to the divine cultivated in Chile and the Christian psalms in the Latin American version of the Catholic Bible? This is the question the present research will try to answer. For this purpose, in addition to ponder on some similarities, I will analyze and contrast two songs by the Chilean musician Violeta Parra (Maldigo del alto cielo and Volver a los 17) with the psalms 143 and 148.

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De la palabra escrita a la palabra hablada (II)

Una primera aproximación a la poesía dominicana reciente

(Segunda parte)

Adalber Salas Hernández, PhD Candidate at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, NYU

La poesía dominicana reciente circula por caminos oblicuos. Aparte de los eventos donde la palabra escrita se hace hablada (conciertos, recitales, eventos de spoken word como aquellos a los que me referí en el post anterior), el acceso a la palabra escrita e impresa es más complejo: muchos de los libros de la generación más reciente de poetas dominicanos han sido publicados en el exterior, por lo que circulan de manera excepcionalmente irregular. Pienso, por ejemplo, en el caso de Ariadna Vásquez Germán, varios de cuyos libros han sido publicados en Puerto Rico o en México. O el caso de Alejandro González Luna, cuyo segundo libro fue publicado recientemente en España. Esto permite que la joven poesía dominicana sea difundida en el exterior, lo cual sin duda es positivo, pero el circuito no es circular: ejemplares de esos libros no suelen llegar al país. Por otro lado, la Editora Nacional, que se encarga de la impresión de los libros ganadores de los concursos organizados por instancias gubernamentales (y que han sido ganados, en momentos distintos, por los poetas que acabo de mencionar) ciertamente podría distribuir con mayor regularidad.

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Confidences in La Lagunilla Market: Tracing the Untold Story of Female Magazines in Mid-Century Mexico

Posted by Alejandra Vela- PhD Student at Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, NYU

Mexican Miracle was the name given to the years that extend from 1940 to 1970 in Mexican recent history. Years of development, industry and a strong economy, Mexico was in a moment of unprecedented growth. Within this growth and restructuring of the country, the role of women was gradually modified: she went from being the selfless mother, housewife, concentrated in domestic work, to, as early as the early seventies, the working woman, the informed student, reader of feminist texts that came from France, the United States, or Spain. In the middle of this story there are many key moments. In the late forties the University City was inaugurated, which would allow a greater number of students (among them many women) to get in the country’s “máxima casa de estudios”; in 1955, Mexican women exercised the right to vote for the first time, and in the 1960s the contraceptive pill began to be commercialized. The journals, specifically addressed to women, published throughout these decades constitute a great barometer for measuring these changes.

Precisely because these are limited editorial and textual spaces (a literary genre dedicated to a specific gender), they allow us to delve into the ways in which not only the publishers, but also the subjects who consumed these cultural products were negotiating their presence and permanence in the public domain. This was the scenario before which I decided to embark on the search for these magazines, rarely preserved by their fragility and tendency to disappear, but also largely ignored for being considered frivolous, banal, “cursis”, women’s things that have no literary or academic value.

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De la palabra escrita a la palabra hablada

Una primera aproximación a la poesía dominicana reciente

Adalber Salas Hernández, PhD Candidate at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, NYU

Proviniendo de un contexto hispanoparlante, el deseo de estudiar la poesía escrita en español en el Caribe no siempre implica una tarea sencilla. Especialmente si uno ha decidido estudiar el trabajo de poetas jóvenes, que han publicado un libro o quizás dos, y cuya difusión suele ser impar –salvo en contados, interesantísimos casos. El asunto se complica un poco más cuando se trata de la poesía dominicana: los espacios de circulación de sus autores no consagrados no siempre son fáciles de hallar. No obstante, en cuestión de días uno se encuentra con un trabajo poético vivo, múltiple, que crece devorando horizontes.

Tratándose de mi investigación, la poesía dominicana reciente es la practicada por autores nacidos a partir de 1970. Un límite arbitrario, sin duda, pero sumamente útil. En este sentido, mi primer contacto en República Dominicana fue Frank Báez. Poeta, cronista, narrador, traductor y editor, junto a Giselle Rodríguez Cid, de la revista Ping Pong, Frank es además miembro del colectivo multidisciplinario El Hombrecito –donde también se encuentra el excelente poeta Homero Pumarol–, el cual fusiona de modo muy interesante poesía y música (en su canal de YouTube pueden escucharse canciones individuales, discos enteros y hasta alguna grabación en vivo). Su quehacer lo coloca en una suerte de encrucijada: es uno de los nervios principales de la nueva poesía del país –no solamente como uno de sus practicantes más reconocidos, sino también como difusor. Gracias a su inestimable ayuda, he podido conocer dos de los principales trabajos antológicos realizados en este campo: el número especial dedicado por la revista Punto de Partida, de la UNAM, a la poesía dominicana actual (No. 171, enero-febrero de 2012) y la muestra Presencias reales, publicada en la propia revista Ping Pong, en el 2011. A través de estos trabajos antológicos, he podido conocer la obra de poetas como Ariadna Vásquez Germán, Alejandro González Luna, Rossalinna Benjamín o Luis Reynaldo Pérez: escrituras ágiles, con brío, muy diferentes entre sí, que sumé de inmediato a las que ya formaban parte de mi investigación.

En la poesía dominicana reciente, la palabra escrita mantiene un vínculo singular con la palabra hablada: siempre una está a punto de convertirse en la otra. La letra vive al borde de la voz. Cabe recordar aquí el trabajo de la poeta y performer dominicana Josefina Báez, el cual, si bien no cae en los límites de mi investigación, es necesario leer –y escuchar, y ver–, pues resulta fascinante. Y cabe también recordar que, aparte de El Hombrecito, la figura de Rita Indiana: mejor conocida por su música (Rita Indiana y Los Misterios) y por su producción narrativa, también encontré en ella una poeta de singular potencia. En esta primera aproximación, un hecho se destaca de buenas a primeras: en la poesía reciente de República Dominicana, la palabra tiene un pasaje permanente de ida y vuelta para viajar de la escritura al habla.

La Memoria Circundante o La Magdalena de Proust es el Picante de Pollo: Tres Semanas en Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Posted by Guillermo Severiche – MFA Student at Creative Writing in Spanish at NYU


Poco antes de llegar a Cochabamba releía la frase de Por el camino de Swann en donde el narrador sumerge su magdalena en el té y el recuerdo de pronto lo invade. Allí entiende que del pasado antiguo – una vez todo muerto y derrumbado – lo que más subsiste son los olores y sabores. Allí esperan, dice, aguardan entre las ruinas salvaguardando la memoria incólume de las personas pasadas que han dejado de ser, de los momentos matutinos que quizás significaron más de lo que pensábamos. Al aterrizar en Cochabamba tuve la sensación de un retorno ajeno. Al principio pensé que había algo familiar en todo esto, que volvía a la casa que hacía poco había vuelto a abandonar. Al día siguiente y durante las próximas tres semanas, fueron muchos los indicios que me permitieron entender que los recuerdos persisten en zonas geográficas ajenas para uno pero cercanas a aquellos del pasado; que es posible recordar cosas desconocidas porque significaron la vida diaria de los seres que de alguna u otra forma nos definieron. Un plato de sopa, un pedazo de pan, algunos modos de habla y entonaciones de voz, me trajeron a la memoria cosas de mis abuelos que llevaron consigo al emigrar hacia la Argentina como modos cotidianos de vida y que han permanecido a mi alrededor más allá de su muerte.

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CLACS Welcomes Chilean Author José Ignacio Valenzuela in First U.S. Book Tour Presenting ‘Trilogía del Malamor y Malaluna’


The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) in collaboration with the Embassy of Chile proudly invites you to join author José Ignacio Valenzuela in his first U.S. tour presenting Trilogy Malamor and its prequel Malaluna on Monday, September 26th at the KJCC Auditorium.

Trilogía del Malamor is a wildly successful trilogy by José Ignacio Valenzuela and is considered the first fantasy series of Latin America. Composed of the books “Hasta el fin del mundo”, “La raíz del mal” and “El árbol de la vida,” this wonderful series full of adventure, romance, enigmas and suspense delights and surprises readers with endearing characters and an unexpected ending. Set in the small mysterious town of Almahue, meaning “place of phantoms” in the Mapuche language, at the edge of the cold sea of Patagonia, it is a place where magic and fantasy abounds and where the desire to love can kill.

Malaluna is a prequel to the series released at the end of last year. Since its release it has captivated fans and new readers by recounting the previous and unknown story of the characters that give life to the Malamor saga. Valenzuela recently sold the film rights to the trilogy, so a film version of this magical story is pending.

José Ignacio Valenzuela has a vast career as an author and screenwriter for film and television in Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. He has published a number of novels and short fiction, and has also served as professor and instructor of creative writing.

CLACS has also invited Ángeles Donoso Macaya, Associate Professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College and expert in contemporary Latin American literature, and Chilean author Carlos Labbé. The panelists will discuss the writing of the trilogy, its reception in Latin America, the upcoming films, and more generally, the development of contemporary young adult literature in the region.

The books of the Malamor trilogy will be on sale at the event. The event will be held in Spanish and it is free and open to the public.

Please join CLACS and the Embassy of Chile in celebrating Chilean literature and José Ignacio Valenzuela’s work by joining us on September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the KJCC Auditorium.