Translator’s Note

Layla Benitez-James

One of the elements which struck me first about Cristina Morano’s poem, “Poet,” was its quick structure: three questions each capped with a colon and immediate answer instead of being left as a true interrogation. This quickly-built world is fanciful yet concrete and we are left looking out, or rather, back in time to an eccentric gesture of love inspired by a turn of the century flamenco dancer who left her home country of Spain to marry the Indian Maharaja of Kapurthala (named in footnote) who in turn was inspired by the treats of Mongolian emperors. This kind of daisy chain or Russian doll nesting of stories was brought up when we were initially discussing this poem, among others, and Morano told me it was written for and based off of a good friend of hers. It is a poem inspired out of true life which is not always characteristic of her work, but encourages a reader down a rabbit hole of historical romance which finds itself mirrored in modern times in the elaborate eccentricities of Drag Shows.


Morano is deeply rooted in the poetry community and landscape of Murcia and the book which houses this poem, Cambio Climático (Climate Change), is tightly woven from aspects of that dramatic landscape mixed with thematic elements of the recent economic crisis in Spain. “Poet” actually operates to contrast and balance many of the other poems in the collection as it travels outside of Spain and takes a decidedly more playful tone, even as it maintains her straightforward style of diction.


I was also aware of gender as “un” vs. “una” poeta gets lost as soon as it becomes “a poet” in English and it is important, especially in the second stanza, to keep things clear. For the first two lines, I nearly made it “his train” and “his flight” so the reader knew who was running around in high heels, but later in the stanza offered a more natural way to incorporate a tag with “his ass” and “his calves.” The poem’s ending reminded me of the mannered humor of Marianne Moore or the matter-of-fact flights of fancy of T. S. Eliot and I wanted to convey a slightly regal air in the translation of the very pointed last line: “muy reconstituyente.”  A more literal translation “very restorative” fell a bit flat and many other superlatives left the line feeling too loud. “Quite” ended up achieving a slightly mannered tone appropriate for all manner of tongue-in-cheek royalty.

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