1. How did you start working on this project? What drew you to it?
When I participated in Bolivia’s Semana de Poesía festival, I was struck by the richness and scope of contemporary Bolivian poetry. And surprised—though not surprised—by how little has been translated into English. I’m grateful to Gabriel Chávez for sharing the anthology of Bolivian poetry he and Stéphane Chaumet edited, Memoria Sin Espejo, where I discovered Mónica’s work.
2. What are some of the main challenges you’ve encountered in translating this work?
I find in Velásquez’s poems a relentlessly thematized disconcertment, something unsettled but teeming, rarely breaking the surface. Maintaining the balance between the poet’s sharp lyricism and its brutal undercurrent—without overwriting the latter of these—is for me the significant challenge in translating these poems.
3. What are you reading right now?
Speaking of unsettlement, my pandemic-era reading seems to consist of bits of many things at once, among them Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers’ brilliant second collection, The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons, Andrés Ajens’ Poetry After the Invention of América (trans. Michelle Gil-Montero), and Cortázar’s instruction poems from his Cronopios y famas.
This week’s Poesía en acción feature also includes:
Janet McAdams is the author of the poetry collections Feral and The Island of Lost Luggage, which won the American Book Award. Her chapbook of prose poems, Seven Boxes for the Country After, won the Wick Chapbook competition and was published in 2016. Her translations of the Bolivian poet Paura Rodríguez Leytón have appeared in Anomaly, Kestrel, Pank, and other magazines. She teaches at Kenyon College, where she is the Robert P. Hubbard Chair in Poetry.
Poesía en acción is an Action Books blog feature for Latin American and Spanish poetry in translation and the translator micro-interview series. It was created by Katherine M. Hedeen and is currently curated and edited by Olivia Lott with web editing by Paul Cunningham.