Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poem: Alessandra Molina

(finally posted)
Reading through poet Francisco Morán's anthology, Island of My Hunger: Cuban Poetry Today (City Lights Books, 2007), Alessandra Molina (1968-), one of the youngest writers in that collection, was also one of the poets who struck me most, both because of her almost obsessive return in several poems to personal themes, drawn, as I far as I can tell, from domestic fragments and childhood memories, but also because of those points in all of them, often subtle, where a rhetorical shift, carefully placed, or a repeated phrase or image transformed what might appear to be a straightforward poem into something unexpected, delightful and profound. Havana native Molina has published several books, including Anfiteatro entre los pinos (1999) and As de triunfo (2000, 2001), and has received a number of Cuban and international literary poetry prizes. She lives in Cuba. Here is a poem from Morán's anthology; I don't particularly like Peter Bush's Briticisms, so I may try my own translation soon.


Dentro del barrio, entre las casas de familias, abrieron la explanada. Es la nueva oficina de leer direcciones y matasellos. Hacia el mediodía el cuadilátero está lleno de bultos con anillos postales y ribetes de colores. Después, poco a poco desaperecen y las almendras que caen cubren el asfalto. Se va al pájaro picar y a los destinatarios que han llegado tarde alzarse desconsolados sobre las cercas. La explanada está vacía, las oficinas cerradas. Alguien, por ahora un joven, vela ese espacio. La caja de las cajas, un cuadilátero de sol, líneas que convergen y forman un incandescencia, fulgores de la promesa que podrían ser atravesados. El guardián va por los bordes, donde hay sombra, el hormigón está húmedo y las hojas amontonadas. Su silencio es el silencio de la tarde. Asoma por un ángulo, ve a los que pasan y parece que es él quien acecha. De pasos lentos, cada vez más estático, ni los colores del uniforme recién estrenado simulan esa ráfaga instintiva, creciente y obscena, de una sexualidad avivada por su idea de un interior y por el tedio.


They opened up the esplanade in the barrio, among family housing. It's the new office for reading addresses and postmarks. Around midday the rectangle's full of packages, postal seals and colored ribbons. Then gradually they disappear and ripe almonds fall, cover the asphalt. You see a bird peck away and late-comers for the post disconsolately shin up fences. The esplanade is empty, the offices closed. Someone, a young lad for the moment, watches that space. A box for the boxes, a rectangle of sun, lines converge, create incandescence, flames of promise that could be crossed. The sentinel walks the perimeter, where there's shade, damp concrete and piles of leaves. His silence is the silence of afternoon. He peers round a corner, sees the people walk by and seemingly he's the one on the prowl. Slow-stepped, ever more ecstatic, not even the colors of his new adopted uniform can conceal an instinctive, growing, obscene charge of sexuality fanned by his idea of an inside and by boredom.

Translated by Peter Bush

Copyright © 2007, Alessandra Molina, from Island of My Hunger: Cuban Poetry Today, edited and with an introduction by Francisco Morán, San Francisco: City Lights Books. All rights reserved.

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