From Poemas de amor / Love Poems



Idea Vilariño is an essential figure in South American poetry. She was part of the Uruguayan writers group, the Generation of ’45, whose legacy still casts a long shadow over contemporary writers and which included such writers as Mario Benedetti, Amanda Berenguer, Ida Vitale, and the novelist Juan Carlos Onetti. Vilariño and Onetti carried on a love affair that is one of the most famous in South American literature and, in response, Vilariño wrote this, her best known book, Poemas de amor / Love Poems. Dedicated to Onetti, through the “amor”/ “love” in the poems, it is an intense book, full of poems about sexuality and what it means to be a woman, and it stands as a testament to both the necessity and the impossibility of love.

Out now in Jesse Lee Kercheval’s translation from University of Pittsburgh Press 





Open the hand and give me
the sweet sweet crumb
as if a god as if the wind
as if the burning dew
as if never
open the hand and give me
the sweet dirty crumb
or give me perhaps the tender
heart that sustains you.
Not the skin or the disordered
hair or the breath
or the saliva or
everything that slips unconnected 
past the skin.
No if it is possible
if you hear
if you are here if I am someone
if it is not an illusion
a crazy lens
a grim mockery
open the hand and give me
the dirty dirty crumb
as if a god as if the wind
as if the hand that opens
that distracts destiny
were granting us a day.


A Guest

You’re not mine
you’re not here
in my life
by my side
you don’t eat at my table
or laugh or sing
or live for me.
We’re someone else’s
and me too
and my house.
You’re a stranger
a guest
who doesn’t look for doesn’t want
more than a bed
once in a while.
What can I do
except give it to you.
But I live alone.


I Am Calling You

from the shadows
from the pain
I am calling you
from the suffocating pit of memory
with nothing to help me and no hope of you 
I am calling you
as if to destiny
as if to sleep 
to peace
I am calling you
with my voice
with my body
with my life
with all that I have
and do not have
with desperation
with thirst
with weeping
as if you were air
and I were suffocating
as if you were light
and I was dying
From a blind night
from oblivion
from the closed hours
in loneliness
without tears or love
I am calling you
as if to death
as if to death.

Translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval


LALT No. 17
Number 17

In our seventeenth issue, we highlight the work of groundbreaking Colombian writer Albalucía Ángel, alongside Octavio Paz, a towering figure of Mexican letters and the second Latin American winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. We also feature Peruvian poet Eduardo Chirinos, a series of photo portraits of writers in the pandemic, a selection of new translations seeking publisher, plus writing in the Murui, Quechua, and Tseltal lenguages in our ongoing Indigenous Literature section.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Albalucía Ángel

Dossier: Octavio Paz

Dispatches from the Republic of Letters






Pandemic Postcards

Indigenous Literature

Translation Previews and New Releases

On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Dossier: Eduardo Chirinos

Nota Bene