by Lila Zemborain
Translated by Rosa Alcalá & Mónica de la Torre
In Mauve Sea-Orchids, as in her striking earlier book Guardians of the Secret, Lila Zemborain brings into relationship the viscera of the body and the spill of the universe in tense compositions that blur distinctions between lyric and prose poetry, between science and eros. She banks imagination and memory against the seep of loss, the dull insistence of oblivion. The translations by de la Torre and Alcalá are expert and nuanced, the English as slippery and inventive as the Spanish. In the sensuous interpenetration of subjectivity and world, Zemborain reveals a “random convergence of what has been and what will be.”
Attuned to “the rhythm of loveglands” Lila Zemborain’s poems transmute verbal connections into a scent that “surpasses the sense of smell.” A tactile sensation is released when the energy of the poem touches the reader “as if thousands of eyes were blinking in pleasure.”
Lila Zemborain’s Mauve Sea-Orchids exhale infra-human sounds. Open them and, one revolution of cellular kisses later, find thousands of perception organs on your tongue. We are more than we think to say, primordial as the remaining seas, and these magnificent creatures are here to prove it. Alcalá and de la Torre’s deft and calm translations offer a superb guide into the hanging gardens of a new, and very old, poetic landscape.
Lila Zemborain, an Argentine poet who lives in NYC, is the author of seven volumes of poetry in Spanish. Two bilingual editions of her works have been published in the United States: Mauve Sea-Orchids (Belladonna Books) and Guardians of the Secret (Noemi). In 2007, she was selected as a John Simon Guggenheim fellow. She curates the KJCC Poetry Series at New York University, where she teaches at the MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish.
Photograph by Philippe Bonan
Rosa Alcalá is the author of Some Maritime Disasters This Century (Belladonna Books, 2003) and Undocumentaries (Dos Press, 2007). Alcalá’s poems, translations, and reviews can also be found in a variety of publications, including the journals Barrow Street, Brooklyn Rail, tripwire, and Mandorla, and the anthology The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, edited by Francisco Aragón (U of AZ Press, 2007). She received postgraduate degrees from Brown University and SUNY-Buffalo and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Mónica de la Torre writes about art and culture for publications in Mexico and the U.S. and is the author of the poetry books Talk Shows (Switchback, 2007) and Acúfenos, a collection in Spanish published recently in Mexico City by Taller Ditoria. She is co-author of the artist book Appendices, Illustrations & Notes, available on Ubu web and the co-editor of the anthology Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry with Michael Wiegers (Copper Canyon Press, 2002). Other translation projects include a volume of poems by Gerardo Deniz published by Lost Roads in 2000.