Juan Carlos Flores has earned recognition for his poems as written texts, and as a translator, I worked primarily within the visually oriented spaces of the page and the screen to recreate his work in English. [Click here to see the University of Alabama Press page for the book.] But Flores takes those same poems as scripts for performance, lending a whole other register to his work. To bring the texts into English without some commentary or other form of addressing performance — like the 2010 video I’m posting at the end of this entry — would greatly limit understanding of the work.
Soleida Ríos (b. 1950 in eastern Cuba) is a remarkable poet from whom comparatively little work is circulating to date in English. There may be a further delay in terms of book projects in translation, for Ríos lost a translator when Barbara Jamison tragically passed away.
The death of a translator is a reminder of the small, mortal scale of possibility embedded within these our “global” landscapes. It’s also a cue to remember, with Esther Allen, that “the translation of a text often depends largely or perhaps wholly on contextual factors that have less to do with the work’s intrinsic value (whatever that might be and however you might measure it) than with encounters between individuals and the shifting cultural and political contexts within which those encounters take place.”