Translator’s Note

Toti O’Brien

Thirty years ago I heard Paola d’Agnese read a poem. A brief one, as always. The last line, kind of unobtrusive, has remained with me since. Of her poems I like their pencil-drawing quality. How they land on the page, verse by verse, with the lightness of fallen leaves — apparently detached but, in fact, neatly overlapping. I like how they are stubbornly lower case, how they are sottovoce, how quietly they whisper their truth and how their truth remains. The challenge of translating them is, of course, the risk of pushing too much on the lead, make too big of a mark, lose both the shading and the fine resolution. These poems must be approached on tiptoe, and yet not uncertainly — with the cognizant, muscled tiptoeing of a dancer.



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