Two poems translated by Jeremy Paden, Spalding MFA Faculty Member in Translation

Translated by Jeremy Paden

Spalding MFA Faculty Translation

Bandit’s Ballad
From La conquista del aire
By Alexandra Dominguez

It’s not easy to meet up with a man like Buffalo Bill
but who isn’t Buffalo Bill.
Who’s the strongest man in all of Michigan
but doesn’t live in Michigan.
Who’s the fastest quick-draw cowboy
but keeps no bullets in his gun.
Who comes galloping down from the prairies but has no horse,
who enters a cantina but is not thirsty,
who takes pity if someone draws
with no other recourse than to be felled by a bullet.
Truly it’s not easy to know a man like Buffalo Bill
who isn’t Buffalo Bill.
Who’s respected by Sioux chiefs
in the way that the white eagle is still respected in the mountains.
Who’s the most beautiful lover in all of Michigan,
from Minnesota to New Mexico,
from his silver belt buckle
to the Rocky Mountains of Utah preachers.
I’m trying to say it’s not easy to fall in love with a man
who chases down horse thieves,
it’s not easy to go to bed with him and sleep in his arms
and dream of bison,
a man who has a savage look in his eyes
but who’s not a savage.
A man in the vicinity of Buffalo Bill
who’s not an old jackal forgotten beneath a sheriff’s badge,
who robs warehouses
and buys flowers on Saturdays with stolen money.
A man who calls loss loss
and failure he calls failure.
I want to say, that’s what I want to say, it’s not easy.

 

Ancestors
From Autumn’s Countersong in Bierzo Valley
By Juan Carlos Mestre

My ancestors invented the Milky Way.
They named that expanse necessity,
hunger they called wall of hunger,
they named poverty all that is not stranger to poverty.
A man can only do so much when consumed by the thought of hunger,
barely trace out a fish in the dusty road,
barely sail the ocean on a wooden cross.

My ancestors sailed the ocean on a wooden cross,
but they seek an audience with kings,
so they wandered through the archives
like hedgehogs and lizards that wander down village trails.

They landed on sand dunes,
in the dunes the earth shines like fish scales,
life in the dunes is seasons of rain followed by seasons of wind.

A man can only do so much when all he has had in life are these things:
barely fall asleep reclined on the thought of hunger
while listening to sparrows converse in the granary,
barely plant flowering firewood in the bed sheets of gardens,
walk barefooted over the shining earth
and not bury in her his children.

My ancestors invented the Milky Way,
they named that expanse necessity,
they sailed the ocean on a wooden cross.
Then they named hunger so that the master of hunger
would be called the master of the house of hunger
and they wandered the paths
like hedgehogs and lizards that wander down village trails.

A man can only do so much with the crumbs of piety,
eat soggy bread on rainy days knowing these are followed by seasons of wind
and speak about necessities,
speak about necessities as one speaks in the villages
of all the small things that can be carefully wrapped in handkerchiefs.

 

Jeremy Paden received his Ph.D. in Spanish and Latin American literature from Emory University. In addition to teaching in Spalding’s MFA Program, Jeremy is an associate professor of Spanish at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he teaches classes on, among other topics, Latin American poetry and literary translation. In spring of 2015 he was awarded a Bingham Teaching Excellence Award, Transylvania’s highest honor for teaching.

He is the author of one chapbook of poems, Broken Tulips (Accents Publishing, 2013). His poems have appeared such places as Adirondack Review, Atlanta Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, California Quarterly, Cortland Review, Louisville Review, Rattle, and other journals and anthologies. He has been nominated for a Pushcart and was a 2013 finalist of the Nazim Hikmet poetry competition. His translations of poems from the Spanish have appeared in Words Without Borders and are forthcoming in other magazines and journals. His articles on Latin American and Spanish literature have appeared in Calíope: Journal for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry, Colonial Latin American Review, Review of International American Studies, Romance Quarterly, and other journals and books of collected essays.

Read Jeremy’s interview with program directors

Read Jeremy’s bio and teaching philosophy

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