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Another new book: Selected Poems of Jose Angel Valente

Jill Schoolman of Archipelago Books asked recently if I would be interested in translating the major twentieth-century Spanish poet Jose Angel Valente.  As it happens I would, and I am grateful to her for thinking of me. Valente is a kind of platonist of the word, who seeks to ruthlessly strip bare received language and produce a vitalized text of absolute immediacy. (I’m far from an expert on twentieth-century poetry of Spain, so I’ll need to work at getting up to speed in better understanding his place in the scheme of things.)

I will select roughly eighty poems from his body of work. Unfortunately, I won’t have the sustained time to work on this project until I finish my work on 1616, but I’m looking forward to this challenge. Here’s a very preliminary example:

The wine was the indeterminate color of ash.

I drank it with residue of dark
shadows, shadows, a wet
body on the sands.

You arrived,
You came tonight.

The insidious depths of the glass
conceal an anonymous god.
+++++++++++++++++++++You gave me
blood to drink
tonight.
+++++Depths
of the god drunk to the dregs.

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By the way, I think I finally figured out how to keep WordPress from stripping out spaces when you have to indent lines in irregular ways like this. You can insert invisible characters, with this kind of code:

<span style=”visibility: hidden;”>++++++++++++++++++</span>

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UPDATE: Looks like the hidden style attribute doesn’t work with RSS.

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3 Comments

  1. That’s a nice trick for hiding spaces – but it does break over RSS, CSS being what it is.

    Really excited about this book . . .

  2. Congrats, this looks like a magnificent translation project. And thanks for the handy tip about the code for indenting.

  3. Anthony

    Example: more Euripidean than Platonist. Does ash refer to tree, residue of fire, the color ash or all three? Needling “triguity”. Will translation face original Spanish? Looking forward to this work: you will carry it off with aplomb.

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