Xeixa: Fourteen Catalan Poets
by Marlon L. Fick and Francisca Esteve
During the post-civil war era, General Francisco Franco’s fascist government forbade the people of Spain’s Catalonia region from speaking, reading, and writing in Catalan, a crime punishable by imprisonment or execution. Throughout these years, the work of Catalan poets could only be found via the underground. Marlon L. Fick and Francisca Esteve traveled to meet each of the poets featured in this anthology, embarking on the long road of joy, pain, and friendship that is the work of translation. These fourteen poets, like fourteen blackbirds, provide keen angles of perception in beautiful and lyrical poetry, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes nostalgic, and always engaging, until now almost entirely unknown to U.S readers.
How I Like It So by Màrius Sampere
How I like it so—to write in a language
they say is dying.
What a feeling of peace and relief
taking it down to the shadowy spring pool
between her legs, the holy woman,
to the first brightness.
The sex opened and I opened my eyes
and I read on the bloody walls
this: I will speak!
And now I say, now that I know all there is to know
about love and thieves,
the deeper the death, the deeper it sinks into the earth!
All the Seas by Rosa Font Massot
To be one field means to be all fields
with flowers and wheat or apple trees
and pomegranates by the road.
To be a sea means being all seas,
the essence of blue in serene inlets
and to navigate forever without a course.
To be a branch is to be all branches,
birch and ash, willow and cypress —
to draw new paths in unexplored skies.
One book is all books:
light of the cosmos, letters of thousands
of existing alphabets, lost or not yet come to be.
One voice is the voice of all those who do not speak,
the voice of the forgotten, the voiceless:
it is yours and mine.
One living being is all living beings:
The eyes of one are all eyes,
the hands, all hands.
We live in each voice, die in each body.
“I tie a knot in your cord …” by Teresa Pascual
I tie a knot in your cord and tie it to my womb
where you don’t suffer the light, the day
is still very clear and waits outside
until you can see without being blinded.
I have swaddled with water, with swaddling clothes made of water,
dressed without stitches inside the basket,
new water that holds your body,
the future nakedness of water,
midday where continents are affirmed,
the summits melt, the coasts are sighted.
I tie a knot in your cord and tie it to my womb,
break its margins for you and bring you close.
Time is open and waits outside
until you can come along barefooted.
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“Xeixa: Fourteen Catalan Poets is an astonishingly generous collection that teaches us how to take a hurt and make it into a song, teaches us how a private whisper can become everyone’s private whisper, how a poem in Catalan can become an equally beautiful, terrifying, inspiring poem in English. What a gorgeous, necessary book. Bravo.” –Ilya Kaminsky
“Marlon L. Fick and Francisca Esteve have performed a magnificent service by bringing us these sensitive, fluid translations of poets whose work, in most cases, I had not previously encountered. I loved reading this book and will be looking for more work by many of these writers. This is a superb and important collection.” —Steve Yarbrough