Artificio para sobrevivir / Emilio Adolfo Westphalen

Survival Artifice

– Prevent the sunrise – shut the night’s innumerable doors and windows – don’t leave a single crack through which the sun might leak – annul all vestiges that Apollo’s chariot once crossed the firmament. – He who expressed this idea – does he intend to put a black mask without any openings on our face? – does he forget the inescapable alternation of light and darkness – the recurring schedule – the eclipses punctual for the occasion? – Of course – he answers. But what does language serve if it doesn’t insinuate (invoke) the impossible.
         All of you, look at this: the sun fell in the (fictional) trap set for it by words. There is no sun – there is no light – nor do we need the night.
         –(Close your fists – squeeze your eyelids shut.)

{ Emilio Adolfo Westphalen | Peru, 1911-2001 }


bajo said...

Hey, are you the translator, or who is the translator?

Guillermo Parra said...


Yeah, I'm the translator. Any text on here that has been translated is translated by me. I've become obsessed with Westphalen's poetry recently. His friend César Moro's too. Translating them into Spanish gives me the chance to read them closely. Plus, it helps alleviate my frustration that the majority of their work is simply unknown by English-language poets.

Guillermo Parra said...

I mean, "...translating them into ENGLISH..."

bajo said...

Yeah I get confused about which language is which too. Ever do English to Spanish? I mean what are those implications? Colonialism? I really like that YOU are the translator. It gives me new excitement about your posts.

Guillermo Parra said...

Yeah, I'm constantly mezclando los dos idiomas all the time. I've tried doing a handful of poems from english into Spanish, mostly by friends or contemporary poets (Cedar Sigo, Micah Ballard are a couple that I've put up here) but I feel my first language, or at least the one I'm strongest in, is English, so I've been focusing mostly in Spanish to English.

I don't even know which language I learned first, so it's nearly impossible for me to say either English or Spanish is my native language. They both are, simultaneously.

The colonial implications, yes, indeed. I try to keep in mind the fact that English is today, more than ever, an imperial language. I want to make sure my translations into English undermine that imperial quality, although at the same time I love the English language deeply and consider it mine. Just as I do Spanish.

I always try to keep in mind that Spanish is an imperial language too, like English.