Four Poems from Vivir de oído
Pessimism of Understanding, Optimism of Attention
steps down from its center
like an oil stain.
while it feigns snatching
its fingers count digressions.
Is to touch to have faith?
I attend to that shoe
that almost frees itself
from a young woman’s heel,
to the deaf-mute debates
on the TV in the back,
to the impatient tics of the light
and, just every so often,
to the time I have left.
Altarpiece with Common Girl
She seeks not to epitomize
nor is her back mythic.
But the punctuation of the hanging foot
while she reads I-don’t-know-which novelist,
the tenuous stammering of sandals,
the fingers hurt
by having said yes,
her exact way of taking a seat
her parenthetic stillness,
the shining, let’s say, of an altarpiece
around her unkempt head,
the hairs that are an opinion,
the studious bags under her eyes
the possible myopia that condenses
her field of interest,
the drop in noise when you watch her,
her weight that is an emphasis,
the time she turns over in her hands.
All of this has brought us together
in this accidental crossing,
in this little matter of us.
Minimal Miniseries of Marksmanship
This insect is the hero
of some resistance movement.
He wheels around
my enemy hand
and dodges every attempt
to interrupt his slight digressions.
As I’m not capable, I admire him instead.
combat this impotence
or confirm it?
Is my compassion the fruit
of missing the mark?
The insect leaves me
his autograph on the air
with the faint buzz of epigrams.
Desert with Baseball Cap
This infinite has no need of you,
orogeny is human:
two forces tearing each other apart.
The spiritual is this indifference
with which time is left to do its work.
The landscape moves,
art of itself.
The rhythm of the rock.
The unisonous wind.
The antecedent cavern.
And a blue baseball cap on the dune.
Poems from Vivir de oído [Living by ear] (La Bella Varsovia, 2018)
Translated by Arthur Malcolm Dixon
Andrés Neuman (1977) was born and spent his youth in Buenos Aires. The son of exiled Argentine musicians, he moved with his family to Granada, Spain, where he later taught Latin American literature at the University of Granada. He has received the Premio de la Crítica, the Antonio Carvajal and Hiperión Prizes for poetry, the Premio Alfaguara de Novela, and the Firecracker Award, granted by the U.S. community of journals, independent presses, and bookstores. He was a finalist for the Premio Herralde and received special mention from the jury of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the forerunner of the Man Booker International Prize. He was selected by the British journal Granta as one of the most outstanding new fiction writers in Spanish. Dedicated to poetry since his beginnings as a writer, he is the author of verse collections such as El tobogán, Mística abajo, No sé por qué, and Vivir de oído, all anthologized in his most recent title: Casa fugaz (Poesía 1998-2018). He has published the novels Bariloche, La vida en las ventanas, Una vez Argentina, El viajero del siglo (Traveler of the Century), Hablar solos (Talking to Ourselves), and Fractura (Fracture); books of short stories like Alumbramiento and Hacerse el muerto; the satirical dictionary Barbarismos; the Latin American travelogue Cómo viajar sin ver (How to Travel without Seeing); and the heterodox treatise on the body Anatomía sensible. His books have been translated to more than twenty languages.
Arthur Malcolm Dixon is co-founder, lead translator, and Managing Editor of Latin American Literature Today. He has translated the novels Immigration: The Contest by Carlos Gámez Pérez and There Are Not So Many Stars by Isaí Moreno (Katakana Editores), as well as the verse collection Intensive Care by Arturo Gutiérrez Plaza (Alliteratïon). He also works as a community interpreter in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a Tulsa Artist Fellow.
In our sixteenth issue, we celebrate Mapuche poet Elicura Chihuailaf, who in 2020 became the first indigenous writer to receive Chile's National Prize for Literature. We also feature dossiers dedicated to the work of Andrés Neuman, Latin American literary criticism, and the Latin American essay, plus a bilingual selection of texts from Dispatches from the Republic of Letters: 50 Years of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature commemorating Gabriel García Márquez, the first Latin American author to win the prestigious Neustadt Prize.