Two Catalan Poems

translated by 

La bona educació

L’estiu que complia set anys
li van regalar un estoig de fusta
amb un llapis i una goma. 

El llapis, perquè en rosegués la mina
fins a trobar el nervi vague
de la paraula.

La goma, per esborrar la paraula 
abans de dir-la. 

 

Good Manners

The summer she turned seven
they gave her a wooden pencil case
with a pencil and eraser.

The pencil, so she could gnaw the lead
until she found the vagus nerve
of the word. 

The eraser, to erase the word 
before she could say it.

 

El Sentit del Creixement

Flors 
i barrets 
i ungles
i portes

creixen enfora. 

Si mai creixen endins
és perforant 
el túnel terrós
del dolor. 

Un dolor que coneixen 
coves
i arrels
i orelles 
i dones, 

que han après a créixer
endins.

 

Direction of Growth

Flowers
hats
fingernails
and doors

grow outward.

If they ever grew inward
earth’s tunnel
would be pierced
with pain.

A pain known by
caves
roots 
ears 
and women

who have learned how to grow
inward.

Editorial note: From Mur, copyright © 2015 by Gemma Gorga. From the manuscript Late to the House of Words: Selected Poems of Gemma Gorga, English translation copyright © 2019 by Sharon Dolin.

Gemma Gorga was born in Barcelona in 1968, where she is a professor of medieval and Renaissance Spanish literature. Author of six collections of poetry, her most recent volume is Mur (2015), which won the Premi de la Critica de Poesia Catalana.

Sharon Dolin (is the author of six poetry collections. She received grants from PEN and the Institut Ramon Llull for her translation of Gorga’s prose poems, Book of Minutes (Field Translation Series/Oberlin College Press, 2019). She lives in New York City and directs Writing About Art in Barcelona each June.

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