Translator’s Note

Lucina Schell

“So that something remains lit,” is part of a line from the poem “A balcony is a vignette,” and the title of the chapbook of Daiana Henderson’s poetry I translated for Cardboard House Press. I suggested it as a title because I noted how attuned to light Daiana is in her poems. It also seemed to fit in with the titles of her other books. “A balcony is a vignette” and “Yellow poem” come from El gran dorado (2012), which refers to a golden river fish common in the Paraná river in Argentina where Daiana is from, as well as the quality of light she refers to throughout “Yellow poem” falling over her, gilding her eyelashes. A través del liso, a line from “Yellow poem,” is recycled as the title of a subsequent book. “Liso” is a term used where Daiana lives for a blonde beer served in a glass. “Just like looking at the world / through a glass of lager” is how I’ve translated it in “Yellow poem,” where Daiana compares that simple visual marvel to the effect of the sunset on the landscape. “I had to revive my thirst” comes from Un foquito en medio del campo (2013). “Foquito” can be translated as a little light or spark. In the title of her book, it’s in a country scene, but the single burning cigarette on a city balcony at the end of “A balcony is a vignette” could easily be a “foquito,” too.

“When you wake up tomorrow” is not yet published in its original Spanish, and gives a sense of where Daiana’s poetry is heading. It is as attuned to textures of sound as her other poems are to quality of light — the murmur of roof slates rattling in the wind, cars on a wet street, a heartbeat, and the awkward ppp-sound made when trying to copy the rhythm of a lover’s breathing. Sometimes onomatopoeias need to be translated, but in this case, I think the sound is universal.


about the author