“There are those who say that poetry is what is lost in translation, another group affirms that poetry is precisely what survives in translation”, says the poet Sergio Pérez Torres about his most recent book “Postales en Braille / Postcards in braille ”, Which is subject to this same dilemma.
The collection of poems, recognized with an honorable mention at the 2021 New York Poetry Press International Poetry Prize, was published under this same seal in a bilingual edition that put its author before the challenge of seeing his verses translated into another language, and in an interview with VANGUARDIA he told us about this experience.
“I had had the opportunity to work only single poems for anthologies and this is the first time that a complete book of my authorship has been translated. The experience was quite enriching because I had the opportunity to have sessions every week, for a certain period, something close to two months, with the translator, Stalina Villarreal, and I must say that, as it is a language that I speak fluently, I had the opportunity to negotiate certain conventions of language or sometimes proposing other solutions, and of course, accepting things that seemed incredible to me in their work ”, he commented.
This exercise in translation allowed him in the end to be able to “read the English translation of ‘Postcards in braille’ was in some way like reading another book”, although he acknowledges that certain concessions had to be made for this.
“Let us remember that there is a play on words between translator and traitor, and this is because in many of the best translations they choose to discard some meaning that could seem to be the equivalent of the other language by giving it one that rather recreates the original. “, He explained,” being languages of different families, it was not always allowed that all the ways in which I said it in Spanish could have a correspondence to English, so I saw how the translator solved this and I found it fascinating to think how it would have been. I wrote it to have been originally in English.
This is also his eleventh book, the tenth of poetry, and he assures that it does not resemble what he had published until now, in particular because here he developed an anthology of poems without being restricted by a theme or discursive line within the entire text.
“He talks about very dissimilar things; from a wedding, from a park, from a museum, from a hospital, from being in school. So that’s why I called it ‘postcards’, because they were different images in which I tried to show a whole construction in a flash. And that it was in braille was to play with this idea that they could feel, like someone who touched it to see “, he commented.
Pérez Torres referred to a “plasticity” in his texts, with which through the verses he tries to evoke sensations beyond what memory itself can offer. This circumstance, she explained, leads her from “experience to try that what I had left the most of such a situation, I believed that it could be the common denominator between whoever read the text and me who was writing it. So I accumulated all those elements and then came a work with language, where I tried to stay in a poetic rhythm but much more friendly and accessible so that whoever read it could feel immediately, not only submerged, but also awakened by their own experiences. ”.
Although this intention of giving a sensitive quality to his poems unites them in a certain way, he pointed out that being a book made of “loose poems”, he considered at the time that he would not have a chance in Mexican competitions, where “for decades, it seems be very interested in proposals that follow a single theme during the book or that are made up of sections but to give a totalizing or totalitarian idea. And I knew that the best opportunity I could have was perhaps abroad ”.
This is how he decided to participate in the award organized by the New York Poetry Press, a publishing house that works in “synergy to publish and manage the works of poets from Latin America and Spain” and which gave him this opportunity.
“It was good not to have married with this idea that I could only give it a chance in national competitions, since, for example, there are also competitions that are international but are held from Mexico, and the juries in the end are still Mexican, so I liked this experience of changing the intention and where it was going ”, he concluded.