Five Poems


Uruguayan writer Ida Vitale receives the 2018 Cervantes Prize from King Felipe VI of Spain.

The poems translated here come from Vitale’s 1980 collection, Garden of Silica, as well as her most recent work, uncollected as of yet in a single volume, but encompassing the section “Antepenúltimos,” [Second-to-Last] which opens her Poesía reunida (Tusquets, 2017). In the case of the former, the translations originally appeared in an anthology of her work we translated and published in 2010 with Salt Publishing (UK), also titled Garden of Silica. These have been thoroughly and completely revised. As for the latter, this is the first time they’ve appeared in English. 


Tracing through Transparency

Clear-cut afternoon
abundant with solid attempts
—trumpet, telegram, shreds of Girondo—
reserves sadness among its drupes.
Autumn forebodes transfer
transfers foreboding,
wastes its splendid veils
on dark rituals.
All nettles,
hieroglyphic ashes persist.
Just love holding
swift walls,
Through transparency
                                       you see the fire
             the tallest barks
in the climbing gardens.
A warble, terse
                           compass, endures. 


Distance Square

Never mind if you are
on the summer stage
at the center of its defiance.
Far from its fires
you walk alone
among snowy statues,
along the stones of Charles
Bridge, infinite.
You see yourself walk,
watching how ice curdles
in short-lived islands,
running downriver,
it yokes at a point
far from here
                        —what here?—
between new shores.

Lightning is unspeakable.
Return then in the opposite direction,
reclaim uses and customs,
            dead sand,
            this clarity,
                               while you can.
But preserve in your blood
                                                                        like a fish
the sweet clash of distance.



Everything is blue,
what isn’t green
                 and burns,
igne natura renovatur integra
in this grave summer oil;
the one who weighs bird journey is falling
and curses the flightless bird,
verbal excrescence is falling =
                                                      soothsay = trophy,
jewel upon the same old skin.

Whoever sits at the shore of things
glows from things shoreless.

from Garden of Silica



The shockwave outside the poem or inside the poem, scarcely air held.

To read and then reread a phrase, a word, a face. Most of all, the faces.
To go over, to weigh what they silence.

Since you’re safe from nothing, try yourself to be something’s salvation.

Walk slow, see if time tempted follows suit.



Is vegetating so bad? Would you have to put down roots, with all the permanence that implies? Perhaps a pinch of sand is enough, but then it would be a cactus pushing through. Undeniably it would be better to find some good black soil for the experience, because not just any soil would be open to the adventure about to begin. Would just a few plantlets count? But no matter how willing you are, they just aren’t going to pop up anywhere unless you have a bit of root. And for that you need stillness. Sinking and stillness?   

from Second-to-Last

Translated by Katherine M. Hedeen and Víctor Rodríguez Núñez


Ida Vitale in LALT
Number 12

In our twelfth issue, we pay homage to two giants of Latin American letters: Ida Vitale of Uruguay, winner of the 2018 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, and Julio Ramón Ribeyro of Peru, whose work we celebrate on the ninetieth anniversary of his birth. We also feature poetry, interviews, and stories that range from the Caribbean to the Andes and from Central American to Brazil, exclusive book previews and reflections from translators, and a special section dedicated to the work of Edwin Lucero Rinza, a young poet who recently published the first ever verse collection in Kañaris Quechua.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Ida Vitale

Dossier: Julio Ramón Ribeyro





Brazilian Literature


Indigenous Literature

On Translation: Seeking Publisher

Translation Previews and New Releases

Nota Bene