Eduardo Milán (author) is a quintessential outsider. He was born in 1952 in Rivera, on the Brazil/Uruguay border, to a Brazilian mother and Uruguayan father. He left Uruguay in 1979 one step ahead of the death squads and has lived in Mexico for nearly four decades. However, Milan is an outsider to both the Uruguayan and Mexican poetry scenes. Milán’s concerns are political and epistemological. Uniquely vulnerable to language, his reverberations off-message offer risky freedom to the translator. Eduardo kindly insists that my translations are better than his originals: “lo que suena en español de locura, suena en inglés de poesía.”
John Oliver Simon (translator) is one of the legendary poets of the Berkeley Sixties who has grown by steady dedication to his calling. Published from Abraxas to Zyzzyva, he is a distinguished translator of contemporary Latin American poetry, and received an NEA fellowship for his work with the great Chilean surrealist Gonzalo Rojas (1917-2011). He is Vice-President of California Poets In The Schools, where he has worked since 1971, and was the River of Words 2013 Teacher of the Year. His ninth full collection of poems is Grandpa’s Syllables (White Violet Press, 2015). For his lifetime of service to poetry, the Mayor of Berkeley, California proclaimed January 20, 2015, as John Oliver Simon Day. In May 2016, the Berkeley Poetry Festival will present him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Undress Your Language
Undress your language
now the man’s not around.
Stop talking to see who you are,
take it off now there’s no one there
or fog the window so no one
can see you. Language:
take it all off. Leave your myrrh
on the moors for the Moors, fine.
Right here? Lose
the incense, over the top.
Language in language out.
Destiny? Origin? Hair in the wind.
Quítate el lenguaje
Quítate el lenguaje
ahora que el hombre no está.
Deja de hablar para ver quién eres,
quítate aquí, ahora que nadie es,
o sea, estría en la vidriera para que nadie
te vea. El lenguaje:
quítatelo. Allá en los morros,
déjate la mirra, está bien.
¿Pero aquí? Pienso, déjate
el incienso, que es demasiado.
A lenguaje dado lenguaje devuelto.
¿El destino? ¿El origen? El pelo suelto.