Virginia Lucas translated by Jen Hofer

Carta de reivindicaciones

Al Tipo, el perro de mi padre

Y violaste a la niña de doce años, la incitaste, iniciada la niña de mi madre
era pequeña, y yo no creceré.
Podré envejecer en esta ciudad de niñitas pobres porque esto no es de hombres
ni de puercos. – ¿En diez te llamo, estás?
Y se busca en la ruina de algunos impactos, restos, restos
pero tú no eras Maldoror ni mucho menos un perro.
Tú fuiste una perra comiendo al hijo defectuoso cargando la orden de limpiar
de niñas de ocho años la ciudad
y la niñez cayó como Batman o Pacheco del estrado
la niñez se te hizo añicos, y me gustó.
Ahora llevo la concha hinchada y los ojos limpios de tanto recordarla Espero en la esquina con mis amigos, nos parecemos Mientras deshago mi último pulmón Porque el primero lo perdí cuando quise respirar y tú,
padre mío, me amaneciste.
Rastrillar no es más que un pasatiempo, trato de encontrarte en lo que perdí. A veces escribo el nombre de una santa que no es mi madre ni mi abuela.
Ese nombre es la victoria de mi pueblo cogido, y engarzado
Este nombre es mi Patria:
mi falla acurrucada entre las manos de una diarera criándome mientras sus callos entretenían tus manos en Santiago, (y eso que Vásquez no es presidente ni presidio)
Otra sacudida se vocea en diarios diarios diarios1
•    más sucesos cotidianos.

1Con tonada de canillita, por favor.

2Letter: List of Demands

To Tipo, the dog of my father

And you raped the twelve-year-old niña, you incited her, initiated the niña of my mother
was small, and I will not grow.
I could get old in this city of poor niñitas because this has nothing to do with men
or with pigs. – I’ll call you in ten, are you there?
And seeking in the ruins of some impacts, remains, remains
but you were not Maldoror and much less were you a dog.
You were a bitch eating your defective child bearing the order to clean
the city of eight-year-old niñas
and childhood fell like Batman or Pacheco3 from the podium
your childhood shattered to pieces, and I liked it.
Now I’ve got a swollen cunt and clean eyes from remembering her so much On the corner I wait with my friends, we look alike While I rip my last lung to shreds Because I lost the first one when I wanted to breathe and you,
father of mine, you woke me early.
Raking is nothing more than a hobby, I try to find you in what I lost. Sometimes I write the name of a saint who is neither my mother nor my grandmother.
That name is the victory of my pueblo fucked, and coupled
This name is my Fatherland:
my failure nuzzled into the hands of a lady newspaper vendor raising me while her calluses entertained your hands in Santiago, (and even though Vásquez is neither president nor presiding penitentiary)
Another shock proclaimed in extra extra extra4
•   more everyday events.

2A Note On Notes, originally published in slightly different form alongside a number of Virginia’s poems with my translations into English, on The Offending Adam: Virginia Lucas’s work contains footnotes – some for purposes of explanation, and some for purposes of expansion, counterpoint, provocation, pique. In translating Virginia’s poems, I translate her forms and uses of language, including, of course, her notes. And in translating what is not translatable in her work – that is, what is most important to translate, the snags or tangles or collisions that don’t readily succumb to expression in English, and hence become opportunities for us as readers to become translated, or for English to be de-Englished – I take recourse in the form of the note, for purposes of explanation, expansion, counterpoint, provocation, pique. That is, I’m following the lead of Virginia’s poetics, even as I lead them astray. I’ve been thinking a lot (without much resolution) about which moments of “snag” I footnote, and which I leave without annotation. What is, I wonder, the imagined audience for the original book? What is the imagined audience for the translated book? Do I footnote every reference I had to look up, thus suggesting that the limits of my knowledge are the parameters for explication, problematically positioning myself, then, as the imagined audience for both the original and the translation? Do I footnote terms I imagine a non-Uruguayan Spanish-reading public might not know, in an attempt to replicate an (imagined) Uruguayan reader’s experience of the book for (imagined) non-Uruguayan USAmerican readers? Do I choose which references to explain in a note, which translation choices to explode in a note, based on my own intuitions as I navigate these texts, in a nod (or more than a nod) to all the ways that translation practice relies on intuition, channeling, and feeling my way through unfamiliar territories? My approach constitutes interventionist translation, perhaps – a form of ultratranslation (about which more here) – and is thus a little clunky and a little uncomfortable and a little lacking and a little excessive. It goes a little too far, while not getting near enough. It’s not quite right, as translation never gets things quite “right”—it’s not about rightness or fixity or one-to-one correlation, not about digesting the source or hitting the target, but about the always-in-process-of-failing attempt to recognize the substance and context of something from somewhere else, and bring that recognition here, while remaining wondrously aware of the processes of transfer, and of what resists transfer. (trans. note)

3Jorge Pacheco Areco, President of Uruguay from 1967–1972, was giving a speech in Montevideo in 1989 to support a political candidate, when the podium where he was proclaiming toppled over, partially taking the politician with it. Once he had been reinstalled, he said: “¡Aunque me muevan el piso seguiremos para adelante!” (“They might take the floor out from under me, but we’ll continue on no matter what!”) More info and photo here. (trans. note)

4With a news vendor’s lilt, please.

Todos éramos Allstars

A Pablo Paredes

Toto da Silveira           

Pero no gritamos goooooooOOOOOOOOOOlll!!!!
Aquel partido en que se llenó de pardos
la ciudad, por 18
los planchas en la city son la moda, y qué molesto, y si te enoja decime plancha de mierda, que está de moda. Decime rastrillo o negro, negrita
que yo no jalo pasta
que me tiro la seda y la línea
y canto woman, woman, don’t cry o … cry baby (al estilo Janis), o don’t chu cry
Porque mamá me mandó a la teacher, años por mí gastó mamá y ahora pago mi rebelión planchadito de Allstars
que me da risa el nombre
Shirley Jacqueline cuando en el baile pregunto el nombre por la distinta a mí
mí es ella, la pobre parda, la que salió de la escuela por vieja, la que trabaja en la pollería
o en el puesto de celulares, la moza, la que mueve el pescado en Fripur, la que me sirve hamburguesas (no) no la empleada del mes. Esa no es Shirley Jacqueline,
Shirley no tiene presencia para eso, Shirley no habla inglés ni su madre, la madre de Shirley la parió en el Pereira Rosel con una s, (la s de Shirley), pasó hambre esa tarde
ya habían cenado y mis amigos jugábamos al Play Station, y mis amigos nos reimos del nombre de Shirley, Stefani, Estefhanie, Stefanía, Jaquelin
Mis amigos
(también tengo otros para reventar)
pero no me alcanza el libro de poemas

El libro de poemas no me da la gana
de reír

El libro de poemas se me antoja demasiado
delicado, algo así parecido a Shirley Jacque.line
                                                           (down swing)

All of Us Were Allstars

To Pablo Paredes

Toto da Silveira5

But we didn’t shout goooooooOOOOOOOOOOlll!!!!
That match when the city filled
with drab greys, along 18 de Julio
the thugs in the ciudad are all the rage, and how annoying, and if it pisses you off call me fucking thug, that’s all the rage. Call me mugger or negro, negrita
’cuz I don’t freebase
’cuz I do joints and lines
and I sing woman, woman, don’t cry or … cry baby (Janis style), or don’t chu cry
Because mamá sent me to the profesora, mamá spent all her dough on me for years and now I’m paying for my rebellion
little Allstars thug
the name makes me laugh
Shirley Jacqueline when at the dance I ask the name of the one who’s different from me
me is her, poor grey thing, the one who left school because she was too old, the one who works at the chicken shack or at the cell phone stand, the waitress, the one who sells fish at Fripur, the one who serves me burgers (not) not the employee of the month. That one isn’t Shirley Jacqueline,
Shirley doesn’t have the right appearance for that, Shirley doesn’t speak English nor her mother either, Shirley’s mother gave birth to her at Pereira Rosel6 with just one s (the s of Shirley), she was hungry that afternoon
they had already had dinner and my friends were playing Play Station, and with my friends we laughed about her name, Shirley, Stefani, Estefhanie, Stefanía, Jaquelin
My friends
(I also have others to bust)
but the book of poems doesn’t quite get me there

The book of poems doesn’t make me want
to laugh

The book of poems strikes me as way too
delicate, something sort of like a Shirley Jacque.line
                                                              (down swing)


5Jorge Urbano da Silveira Silva, known as Toto da Silveira, is an Uruguayan sports announcer, lawyer, and radio personality. (trans. note)

6The Peireira Rossell Hospital was founded in 1908 in the Parque Batlle neighborhood of Montevideo. It was the first pediatric and ob/gyn hospital in Uruguay. (trans. note)


A Reinaldo Arenas y a G. García Márquez

Son esto son ellos los muertos del mueble hablando que la seña dice
en diálogo con delirante son, pero son esto, son ellos a veces
algunas puertas diminutas claman son estas, son ellas
la máxima ría de un ejército desequilibrado a punto de -- - -tttt -tttt--tttt---- a punto de- --tt -- ---------son, son, son cubanos emigrantes o cubanas alertas a pluma y fiesta
a lúbricas coces, anos pequeños, pequeñitos menores sometiendo el cuerpito
y ellos pidiendo y ellas mamando –que en esto hay mueble, hay goce, hay calle, hay siempre hay una mala forma del haber y un uso indebido del sentido clama –son esto, son ellos- los únicos, los roncos raspando la ruta del tren tronando royendo el intento refregando la tela contra el piso, la pileta el trapo húmedo sacude por tus nalgas las ganas –que no querías, que no quiso- y la menoridad mi hermana te quedó desnuda, y la menoridad mi niña te hizo hembra
Salías, un día lindo de sol te reventó el costado. Quisiste al niño, te quiso y pariste.
Son esto, son ellos. Los pobres del mundo. El pobre mundo. No redime. Encarna, como pez rabioso mueve cola y jala entre las manos filoso nylon y resbala por debajo de las nalgas la humedad que no te pertenece, y lloras, son esto, son ellas estas mujeres de mierda, estas niñas diminutas que me asustan y te voy a dar, soy esto.
– Te juro que me vas a sentir, te voy a romper el culo por puta triste, por gozadora, por niña feliz persiguiendo gato, porque quiero porque estoy arriba y a punto de------tt--------a punto de------tt-------- a punto de acabarte el sentido de --------tt----------.
Son esto son ellos los pobres, los putos los pijeados ordinarios llaman en mueble, en puertas por los agujeros dicen mientras: Aquí estamos
– mis niñitos esperan, redenciones.

To The Virgin Mary

To Reinaldo Arenas and to G. García Márquez

They are this they are they the dead of the no-tell motel saying what the sign says
in dialogue with delirious sound they are, but they are this, they are they sometimes
some diminutive doors cry out they are these, they are those girls
the maximum estuary of an unbalanced army about to -- - -tttt -tttt--tttt---- about to- --tt -- ---------
---------they are, they are, they are son cubanos, cubano emigrants or cubanas alert fine-feathered and fiesta’d up
with lubricious kicks, little anuses, tiny little minors submitting their little bodies
and those guys asking and those girls sucking — that in this there is no-tell, there is enjoyment, there is street, there is always there is a bad form of the verb haber7 and an inappropriate use of deeply-felt crying out —they are this, they are those guys— the only ones, the scratchy-voiced scraping the train-tracked route thundering ranting gnawing the attempt rubbing the cloth against the floor, the wash bucket the damp rag shake between your ass-cheeks the desire —that you didn’t want to, hadn’t wanted to— and the minorness my sister you left naked, and the minorness my niña made you female
You were leaving, one fine sunny day busted your rib. You wanted the niño, he wanted you, and you gave birth.
They are this, they are they. Los pobres, the poor of the world. The poor world. Doesn’t redeem. Embodies, like a rabid fish moves its tail and tugs between the hands sharp nylon and slippery beneath the ass-cheeks the dampness that doesn’t belong to you, and you cry, they are this, they are they these shitty women, these tiny niñas that scare me and I’m going to give it to you, I’m this.
– I swear you’re going to feel me, I’m going to bust your ass for being such a sad whore, for liking it too much, for being a happy niña chasing after the cat, because I want to because I’m on top and about to------tt--------about to------tt-------- about to finish you off in the sense of --------tt----------.
They are this they are they the poor, the fags the ordinary dick-whipped they call in the no-tell, in the doors, through the holes meanwhile saying: Here we are
– my niñitos wait, redemptions.

7Haber is a versatile, impersonal, indefinite verb that can mean “there is/are” or “to be” or “to occur” in the sense of existence or being in possession of or present for a thing, a state, or a situation. Haber + que + infinitive means “have to” or “must,” a necessity or imposition. There is never a person directly implicated in “haber,” even in the antiquated phrase “héme aquí”—more or less “behold me here”—where “héme” is less “I am” and more “there is me.” I’m not being, I’m being been, in a kind of hovering or shimmering existence where I can’t move or act but could possibly be moved or acted on. Bad form, indeed. (trans. note)



Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer is a Los Angeles-based poet, translator, teacher, book-maker, and co-founder of the language justice and language experimentation collaborative Antena and local language justice collective Antena Los Ángeles. Her translations include Style / Estilo by Dolores Dorantes (Kenning Editions 2016) and Intervenir / Intervene by Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015). Her translation of Virginia Lucas’s Amé.RICA is forthcoming from Litmus Press.

Virginia Lucas

Virginia Lucas (Monteviedo, Uruguay) is a poet, editor, and literature professor. Her books include the poetry collections Épicas marinas (Artefato, 2004) and No es de acanto la flor en piedra (Lapsus, 2005). She is Literature Director of the National Office of Culture (with the Uruguayan Ministry of Education and Culture) and Research Coordinator of Queer Studies Montevideo.