Alessandra Bava: “My Son Writes His First Poem in Spanish”
Jack Grapes Poetry Prize 2019 Finalist
2019 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist, selected by judge Tanya Ko Hong
Maybe I am biased, but I like this poem because it uses Spanish as well as English in the piece. Creating a multilingual experience opens a whole other part of the mind, soul, and heart. Saying and reading unfamiliar words out loud creates tangible collisions for readers. The poet uses very simple Spanish words. “Lluvia. It rains/ Morena. Rain has such dark skin.” I can experience many different metaphors with just these two lines. I want to dive deeper into this poem’s linguistic landscape. Beautiful poetic languages and emotions in this piece. This poem is moving. It inspires me to pick up my pencil and start writing multilingual poems as well!
— Tanya Ko Hong
My Son Writes His First Poem in Spanish
He sends me the poem he wrote yesterday
at the university’s library while it was pouring.
Forests of meaning crawl from the page.
I dive into the language with a machete in hand –
most words I understand, some I barely grasp
and lose my way. Lluvia. It rains.
It rains on the children and on the ancestors,
on the agave and on dusty roads. Morena he
writes. Rain has such dark skin.
Feelings rain on me, metaphors deflagrate
while I fall silent. From a crack in the page –
among raindrops – I watch a pale fire erupt.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alessandra Bava is a poet and a translator living in the Eternal city. Her poems and translations have appeared in magazines such as Gargoyle, Lunch Ticket, Plath Profiles, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Tinderbox and Waxwing. Her poetry books and chapbooks have been published both in Italy and in the US and are: Guerrilla Blues (2012), Nocturne (2013), They Talk About Death (2014), Diagnosis (2015), A rima armata (2016), Love & Other Demons (2017). Over the years she has translated from English and French into Italian works by several poets including: Michel Butor (La main voyante/La main parlante, 2013 and Les poisons meurent aussi, 2015), Jack Hirschman (House, 2012)) and Alejandro Murguía (Offerte di carta, 2016). She has translated from Italian into English poems by Antonia Pozzi and Antonella Anedda among others. She has edited and translated into Italian A New Anthology of American Poets (2015) and Anthology of Contemporary American Women Poets (2018). She has just finished translating poems for an upcoming Anthology of Contemporary British Women Poets. When she is not translating, she keeps working on a biography of former SF Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman.
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