WLT Student Translation Prize – Poetry

May 18, 2022
translated by Emily Graham

I go out into the street with the angel

by Linda Maria Baros

I go out into the street with the angel.
                Like a chain coiled around my hand.
                Whitened by the lime of the walls.

The men that I meet
                                lick my hand and my ankles,
                                follow me closely.
                I tread on them
                                like on burning coals,
                                like on waves, like on rooftops.

                I feel no pity
                                for the men who love me.
                My chain has opened snakelike pupils
                                                on their backs.

Those who have slept at the edge of high rooftops
                                                now bow to me;
those who have carried their lungs
                                to the depths of the waters
                – like scrawny hunting dogs –
                                and trained themselves to breathe there.

The others – the civilians – bow to me from beneath.
                                Rendered comatose.
Those whose teeth have been shattered by an iron bar.
                The magisterial clinics, the matchmakers.

The disinherited of fate bow to me, the contusions, the cough.
                Perhaps under the bed rifle barrels
                                                                                still smoke.

I went out into the street with the angel. I return home.
                Like a chain coiled around my hand.

Translation from the French

Editorial note: From La nageuse désossée. Légendes métropolitaines, © Linda Maria Baros (Le Castor Astral, 2020).

Photo by Phil Journe

Linda Maria Baros (b. 1981) is a poet, translator, and publisher. She has published six books of poetry. Her most recent collection of poems, La nageuse désossée: Légendes métropolitaines (The deboned swimmer: Metropolitan legends), was awarded the 2021 Grand Prize for Poetry by the Writers’ Society, France, the 2021 International Francophone Prize of the Montréal Poetry Festival, and the 2021 Rimbaud Prize of the Poetry House, Paris. Her poems have been published in translation in forty-one countries, and she has taken part in ninety-four international poetry festivals. She is winner and general secretary of the prestigious Apollinaire Prize, full member and general rapporteur of the Mallarmé Academy, vice president of the French PEN Club, and has translated forty-seven books. She is director of La Traductière publishing house and of Poésie Poetry Paris / French-English Poetry Festival and editor in chief of the poetry and visual art magazine La Traductière. Baros has a PhD in comparative literature from the Sorbonne, lives in Paris, and wears a huge silver claw ring on her right hand.

Emily Graham is a translator of contemporary French poetry from Cleveland, Ohio. She recently received her BA from the University of Connecticut, and she will be continuing her studies in the fall at the University of Iowa, pursuing an MFA in literary translation. Her faculty sponsor for the submission was Professor Peter Constantine from the University of Connecticut.