Bree Alexander: ‘Cruzando’ Translation and Notes

Contigo y sintigo I began
until I arrived at a point sin ti
(sintigo is grammatically incorrect but an error I used to make, sin ti is the correct way to say ‘without you’)

Eres guap@ became
¡Qué guap@ eres!
and in a particular moment
¡Qué guap@ estás!
(Following an English word order in the first instance ‘eres guap@’ and later learning the order more commonly used as well as the difference between the ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ forms)

I was not sure if el cielo era azul
o naranja until I realised that
era azul, y estuvo naranja
from time to time
(the difference between the ser and estar forms, ser as a more permanent state)

Me siento en otra dimensión became
como si estuivera en otra dimensión
(I feel in another dimension became as if I were in another dimension – learning everyday uses of the imperfect subjunctive) 

vino vino vino…what?
Yes…it’s missing the uve sound
(highlighting the ‘uve’ as distinct from the English ‘v’)

Panuelo panuelo (incorrect spelling/prounounciation of ‘tissue’)
Does anyone have a pañuelo?

Rosa rojo Roma reloj rama perro (words meaning pink, red, watch, branch, dog, all with the ‘rr’ sound)
(don’t confuse it with pero o porro) (words with similar sounds – pero = but, porro = joint)
repeat ‘til you have it
on the tip of your tongue

Ascensor, piscina (con θ) (lift, swimming pool with combinations of ‘s’ and ‘θ’ – more difficult to pronounce)
Yeah…I will practice that one
a little more

Estar ser estar ser (the two verbs for ‘to be’ in English)
el problema el sistema el poema el idioma (all irregular masculine words ending in ‘a’)

Conservativo…quiere decir conservador (conservativo sounds more like the English ‘conservative’, but when used to describe a person in Spanish, ‘conservador(a)’ is used)
don’t confuse estar caliente y tener calor (estar caliente may seem like a logical direct translation from English of ‘I am hot’ but actually means ‘to be turned on’. ‘Tener calor’ is the one to use)
Voy a por ella y tengo una de cosas esas (Combinations that are specific to Spanish and different word orders to English)

aunque sea un ridículo
aunque es encantador
(Uses of the indicative and subjunctive, showing possibility vs a sure thing)

I love the subjunctive
for those subtle distinctions
es una pasada
(It is great)

Menos mal que sigue el aprendizaje (It’s a good thing learning continues)
I will never reach perfection
pero cruzando sigo (but I keep crossing)

How To Navigate These Poems

An audio version of each poem is provided at the top of the page, between the title and the text of the poem. This is a way of inviting you into the poem even if you do not speak all of the languages it uses. Sound, cadence, and music are at the heart of poetry and this audio provides a way to access parts of texts that we cannot manage by reading alone.

The poems in this issue represent the individual relationships that the poets have with the languages in which they write. Because of this, the decision to translate or transliterate the non-English languages, or to provide glossaries, explanations, and notes, was left up to each poet.

If the poet has chosen to provide any explanatory material, you will find it after the poem, towards the bottom of the page, or in their bio. Some poets have done full translations, some have provided glosses, and some have presented their work as is.

Emily Westmoreland: ‘Awkward’ With Translation

There is no word for awkward in Spanish.
No me siento incomoda.
Tampoco me siento rara.

I don’t feel uncomfortable,
Nor do I feel strange

Me siento como mis piernas y mis abrazos están sticking out at strange angles,
Como los curly blonde hairs on my legs que
Las abuelas en el metro miran fijamente.

I feel like my legs and my arms are sticking out at strange angles,
Like the curly blonde hairs on my legs that
The grandmothers on the metro stare at.

Me siento como I’d like to stay in, pero voy a salir,
O salgo a las diez, y llego too early para la previa.

I feel like I’d like to stay in, but I’m going to go out,
Or I go out at ten, and arrive too early for the pre-drinks.

Me siento como I had to tell your abuela that vegeterianas don’t eat jamón.
Ni pescado.

I feel like I had to tell your grandmother that vegetarians don’t eat ham
Or fish

Me siento como un handshake,
En vez de dos besos.

I feel like a handshake,
Instead of two kisses.

No me siento incomoda ni rara,
Pero tampoco me siento como en casa.
Me siento awkward.

I don’t feel uncomfortable or strange,
But nor do I feel at home.
I feel awkward.