Translator’s Note

Carina del Valle Schorske

Climax Road is not a title I had to translate, which is your first clue that this is really a transnational book, a travel narrative, or the collective keening inside globalized English. “Take me to Climax Road, they beg,” but instead Vanesa Pérez-Sauquillo shows us “a sign licked clean by the tongue, difficult to understand.” Much of the magic of Climax Road, for an American reader, is in seeing a familiar New England landscape — apple orchards, trussed bridges, empty gymnasiums, men drinking by the railroad tracks — transfigured by the cosmic surrealism of Pérez-Sauquillo’s poetics: “the light moves out over the field / like a great lie in search of a hiding place.” Pérez-Sauquillo is married to an American actor she met in Spain, and they've taken their children to visit his family in Farmington, Connecticut over several summers. But this familiarity does not come through her poetry as sociological realism. Instead, it’s the radical enchantment of the landscape that reveals the American dream to be a “sick computer,” an “alley without exit.”

“Summer and winter live in sin” is the last poem in the book’s third section, and does not include the references to Islamophobia, teen runaways, and deportation that elsewhere trouble Farmington’s fantasy of timelessness. Instead, we find the seasons — so often a principle of aesthetic order even in the most subversive American poetry — reversed by love and scrambled by constant travel. The Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer describes his poems as “meeting places,” which is always a tempting metaphor for the translator. But as I translated Climax Road through a warm fall in Boston, I found myself repeating a different mantra, from the book itself: “I’ve come to this luminous haven / to make it a crossroads.” What if beauty, even the beauty of our own backyard, is not a “haven” or resting place, but a provocation to further movement?

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