Poem of the Month: January

A poem by Marta Pessarrodona:

Anna Gorenko

Ever since, without your latent,
we have all been, more or less,
half nun and half harlot,
half cloistered, half streetwalker.

We haven’t had your sense of shame:
we lack the cleverness
of the secret surname,
the talent of a loud-sounding mask.

My poet didn’t value
white peacocks,
religious music,
or crumpled maps.

Like yours, however,
screaming children annoyed him,
and he didn’t crave after tea and jam
or hysterical ladies.

Our time, for sure,
has not been as pathetic as yours.
This is why, perhaps,
we must pay homage to you;

even more for your poems,
of such golden pins;
for your wisdom,
not even betrayals could conceal.

Also because they have sung more lines
to you than you ever wrote yourself;
so jealous, they wanted to immortalize you
with pencils, brushes and cameras;

and because you will always be
so far away and yet so close
to our victories,
to our downfalls.

Ever since, without your talent,
we have all felt like you,
half nun, half harlot,
so many days, on so many repeated occasions.

Translation by Sam D. Abrams.
For the original text in Catalan and more poems of Marta Pessarrodona, visit Lyrikline. In case you want to read about the Russian poet Anna Gorenko (pen name Anna Akhmatova), look here.

Marta Pessarrodona honoured

This morning the cultural organisation Òmnium Cultural has announced that author Marta Pessarrodona has been awarded the 51st Premi d’Honor de les Lletres Catalanes for her work as a poet, narrator, literary critic, translator, editor and essayist.

The jury praised her among other things for the constant dialogue she has established between Catalan and European literature, especially the Anglosaxon.

The following poem translated into English is symbolic for this connection, as it refers to three women poets (Maria Antònia Salvà, Caterina Albert and Clementina Arderiu) who wrote in Catalan.

FOR MARIA ANTONIA, CATERINA AND CLEMENTINA AND SO MANY, BUT NOT THAT MANY, OTHERS

I knew that you could,
despite a lot of things,
always explain to us
fragments of what we wanted.

I knew that you knew
far more than you wrote down,
were more daring, even,
than could have been expected.

I knew that there was, behind
so many obstacles, so many bolts,
so many doors, learned and locked,
a spring to ease thirst and hunger.

I knew that you had seeds of everything
(I’ve almost always known it)
beyond the patronising silence
it kept my style plain.

I knew I had to search you out
(rummage for out-of-print books),
to read you attentively, closely–you
forerunners of our fallen lives.

Translation: Poetry Ireland

Foto: Joan Cortadellas

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