A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I will be interviewing Louise B. Popkin for Rafa Alvarado's World Wide Word Radio about Benedetti's "Witness" (White Pine Press) on Wednesday, March 21, http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif2012 from 11:00am until 12:00pm.

According to the website, Louise "resides in the Boston area, where she teaches Spanish at Harvard's Division of Continuing Education. She also spends several months each year in Montevideo, Uruguay, and her translations of Latin American poetry, theater and fiction have appeared in such literary journals as Triquarterly, Mid-American Review, Kenyon Review, and Beacons, as well as in numerous anthologies.
Please tune in and join the conversation,

So, I thought I would come up with some questions to ask Louise B. Popkin since our interview is going to last for at least an hour.

1.) I see in Benedetti's poems a great love of juxtapositions, and odd pairings. Like in "Angelus," Benedetti describe an office environment where the tables are big enough "for all our elbows" and then follows that up with, "una silla que gira cuando quiero escaparme/ a chair that spins when I want to get away." I imagine this does not make it easy for you as a translator. Please talk about some of the difficulties you had translating Benedetti's poems?

2.) Could you please talk about your process as you translate, from what you listen to in the background as you translate to the type of computer you use? Is your process completely analog, or are there digital elements?

3.) In the introduction to "Witness" you new book out on White Pine Press, you talk about translating "Birthday in Manhattan" and how Benedetti's work is deceivingly straight forward, but rich with allusions and meanings you would have to coax out. Could you please elaborate?

4.) In what ways is literary translation like hunting or setting up a trap for an animal?

5.) In Office Poems it almost seems Benedetti is trying to incite the salarymen and salarywomen of Montevideo to throw off their cubicle-yokes and riot. Do you think Benedetti might have wanted to incite office workers to revolt against their immediate supervisors?

6.) Nowadays, having a job, any kind of job, is seen as a blessing. Do you think the tension in Office Poems might be lost on an audience that's weathered the severe economic downturn of 2008 to the present?

7.) Do Office Poems talk specifically about a malaise only felt in Montevideo, or is this Dread of Offices a global phenonmenon?

8.) In your opinion, did Benedetti do something specific against the U.S. government to deny him an entry visa? Was it simply his involvement in cultural events and the Cuban Milieu?

9.) What do you think Mario Benedetti might say about a person like Julian Assange and WikiLeaks? How does Benedetti's poetry stand as "Witness" against daily degradations and obfuscations that happen in Latin America?

10.) You write that the last time Benedetti was in the states was in 1959. Do you think this contributed to his limited publicity before an American reading public? In other words, might he have cultivated more of an audience in the U.S. if the U.S. government hadn't barred him from entering the U.S.?

11.) Why should we read Benedetti in the states? What poets do you believe he has directly influenced, much like Vallejo directly influenced Benedetti?

12.) I see that for this book, Witness, you collaborated directly with the estate of Mario Benedetti and White Pine Press. Where there times when they wanted different things? Was this an organic collaboration, or did you feel at times different players wanting different things?

13.) How did you go about selecting the poems in Witness? How does the title directly address Bendetti's involvement in political movements, and why did you decide to title it Witness?

14.) Was there an over-riding thematic approach you used to select the poems you were going to translate?

15.) What books are on Benedetti's book shelf in the afterlife?

16.) What might have Benedetti said about River Plate descending to a second tier futbol club? I know Benedetti belonged to Nacional, but do you think he would have been a fan of Forlan's?

17.) Why aren't there more poems about futbol? I know of Galeano's Futbol a Sol y Sombra but besides that one, I haven't heard of too many poems written about futbol. The format of poetry seems especially suited to the short bursts of creative energy that typifies the game.


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Best regards

AnĂ³nimo. said...

River Plate is from Argentina... and Benedetti is from Uruguay.