Note: Photograph is from the collaborative project Cuerpo del Poema, by Irizelma Robles and ADÁL.
Translations by Urayoán Noel, like his poetry and criticism, are deeply enjoyable. They announce the presence of a vital mind – insightful, singular and often funny. Poems bound, spitting energy. The best part is that even at their most frenetic, the writings emerge out of a long, patient, and illuminating investigation into cultural forms and traditions.
Translation is effortful: that’s part of its appeal and provocation. Translation, like any form of cross-cultural or cross-language communication (and I sometimes wonder if all communication, even communication within the self, is some form of “cross-cultural” communication? but perhaps there are gradations or spectra of “cross” in that construct...) highlights both separation—difference, distinction, divide—and connection—affinity, mutuality, movement towards.
Let me contradict myself immediately: on a good day, when the confluence of written and writer and translator is particularly generative and delightful, translation can feel like channeling, accessing some other river-like flow of speech just beyond the ways we normally articulate ideas. It’s never easy—it’s always an effort—but it can feel tremendously fluid, perhaps precisely because of the distance from self and ego that translation inherently entails.