The fire weighs less than silence, papay, your
thick shadow that burns
among wet logs;
less than the silence of night
the light that shines
off birds and rivers.
“May the fire be your brother,” it speaks, it lights up
the story of fallen plains
the war between gods, serpents
the passage of men
through lightning and blood.
You hear the gallop of the generations,
the names buried
with pitchers and fruits,
the tear, the clamor of slow caravans
escaping to the hills of death and life.
You hear the puma strike
the trout leap into blue
you hear the song of birds, you foretell
you hide behind ferns
and flowering fuchsias.
Now you breathe the dust of the nguillatunes,
the machi cutting the throat
of the chosen ram;
now you breathe the smoke before the rehue, the fire
that burns the bones of the long sacrifice.
“May the fire be your brother,” you say returning,
may the wide sun of the day
reunite brothers and sisters;
may the fire be your brother, papay, the memory
that silently embraces the shadow
and the light.
*Papay is a term of endearment for elder women in Huilliche.
Those eyes the color of color
from a gray height, watch
bellflowers, trickling water.
Does the silence come from the wind at this hour or
is it the drunken bees
bringing honey and blood
to the hive of your temples?
Because the water is beautiful,
and the sky is beautiful
and both are good friends - she says.
Because the light is my soul in the star,
and my breasts are fountains of light.
Because in silence we know what we are:
the eagle and the swan,
the deer and the puma,
mountains, spring and wind,
sowing the seeds of eternity.
*The lines in italics are by the poet Pablo de Rokha.
Translated by Arthur Dixon
Jaime Luis Huenún is a Huilliche-Chilean poet. He grew up in Osorno, near the Rahue River, which appears in many of his poems. He normally writes in Spanish, and his work represents an effort to construct a new indigenous poetics combining traditional themes with novel, sometimes experimental styles. His published works include Ceremonias (1999), El pozo negro y otros relatos mapuches (2001), and Los cantos ocultos (2008), and he served from 1993 to 2000 as director of Pewma, a journal of art and literature. He received the Pablo Neruda Prize in 2003 for his verse collection Puerto trakl (2001).
Arthur Dixon works as a translator and as Managing Editor of Latin American Literature Today. His translation of Andrés Felipe Solano’s “The Nameless Saints” (WLT, Sept. 2014) was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize, and his most recent project is a book-length translation of Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza’s Cuidados intensivos (see WLT, Sept. 2016).
The fourth issue of LALT highlights underrepresented but deserving voices from across Latin America, with a focus on women writers as well as special sections dedicated to genre-bending science fiction, indigenous-language poetry and prose, and the essential relationship between author and translator.
Table of Contents
- "The Poetry of Pedro Lastra" by Marcelo Pellegrini
- "Against the Eviction of the Poet: An Introduction to the Poetry of Juan Arabia" by Rodrigo Arriagada Zubieta
- "Physics and Poetry: An Introduction to Luis Correa-Díaz" by Alberto G. Rojo
- "Juan Ramón Jiménez, Parisian Perfumer" by Néstor Mendoza
- "In Memoriam: Rius for (Absolute) Beginners" by Radmila Stefkova
- "The Copy is the Original: The Problematics of Juan Luis Martínez’s Posthumous Works" by Scott Weintraub
- "A Room, a House, a City of One’s Own: Four Women Prose Writers from Latin America" by Sebastián Diez
- ESSAY: "Five Women Writers in Translation" by George Henson
- FICTION: "Pharos" by Jazmina Barrera
- INTERVIEW: "Eavesdropping": Snippets of a Conversation between Jazmina Barrera and Christina MacSweeney
- FICTION: "Tree Monster Boy Tree" by Mariana Torres
- INTERVIEW: “There is no better reader than a translator”: A Conversation with Mariana Torres by Lisa Dillman
- FICTION: "Series 201" by Luisa Valenzuela
- ESSAY: "Too Cute for Tiny Tale Tellers: Some Thoughts on Translating Series 201 with Luisa Valenzuela" by Grady C. Wray
- POETRY: "March 10, NY" by Jeannette L. Clariond
- INTERVIEW: A Conversation with Jeannette L. Clariond by Samantha Schnee
- POETRY: Three Poems by Carmen Boullosa
- Sarah Booker: Translation is like "Trying to Remember a Dream": A Conversation with Denise Kripper
- “Living out of place has led me towards the defeat of the real”: A Conversation with Pablo Brescia by Thomas Nulley-Valdés
- "Symphonies of Literary Violence: A Conversation with Pedro Novoa" by Gabriel T. Saxton-Ruiz
- "A Sample of Colombian Poetry" by Camila Charry Noriega
- "Poetics" by Juan Manuel Roca
- "Outdoors" by Amparo Osorio
- "Two Days for Lázaro" by Mery Yolanda Sánchez
- "Perfect Unreality" by Pedro Arturo Estrada
- "Light and Shadow Make Up the House" by María Tabares
- "Downpours" by Alejandro Cortés González
- "I Make My Way Through the Deserted City" by Lucía Estrada
- "Untitled" by Juan Guillermo Sánchez
- "The Snack" by Andrea Cote-Botero
- "Janis Joplin" by Henry Alexander Gómez
- "Eternal" by Margarita Losada Vargas
- "They say the last flame" by Tania Ganitsky
- "The House" by Jenny Bernal
- "From a Distance, You Can Only Ask" by Juan Afanador
- "Magdalena River" by Robert Max Steenkist
- La sinfonía de la destrucción by Pedro Novoa
- Antonio Skármeta: Nuevas Lecturas by César Ferreira and Jason Jolley
- Arboretum by Jotacé López
- El último apaga la luz by Nicanor Parra
- Lennon bajo el sol by José Adiak Montoya.
- Temporada de huracanes by Fernanda Melchor
- Pasos Pesados by Gunter Silva
- La derrota de lo real by Pablo Brescia
- La troupe Samsonite by Francisco Font Acevedo
- And We Were All Alive by Olvido García Valdés