Ana Maria Gomides: 'Cantar' Glossary

cantar: to sing

fazendo um bico: making a beak, a colloquial expression for pouting.

Mamãe: affectionate term for mother.

“Pega a máquina!”: “Get the camera!”

mãe: mother

“Viverrr, e não ter a vergonha de ser feliz-”: “To live, and not be ashamed of being happy-”

“Paa-raa!”: “Stop!”

novelas: the equivalent of soap operas in Brasil, but far more dramatic and therefore better.

irmã: sister

“Eu não falei!?”: “Didn’t I tell you!?”

filha: daughter

“Horrivel né!?”: “Horrible, right!?”

“Não é nada sério, só ansiedade mesmo,”: “It’s nothing serious, just anxiety,”

“Ansiedade? Mas ela tem oito anos de idade! Ansiosa com o que?”: “Anxiety? But she’s eight years old! Anxious about what?”

E não ter a vergonha de ser feliz
Cantar e cantar e cantar
A beleza de ser um eterno aprendiz

To live
And not be ashamed of being happy
To sing and to sing and to sing
The beauty of being an eternal student
Ah, meu Deus, eu sei (eu sei)
Que a vida devia ser bem melhor e será
Mas isso não impede que eu repita
É bonita, é bonita e é bonita

My God, I know (I know)
That life should be much better and it will be
But this doesn’t stop me from repeating
It’s beautiful, it’s beautiful and it’s beautiful

Nadia Rhook: 'a father tongue' Glossary

Pronunication guide :

Castellano -> Cas-te-sha-no

Spanish-English Translations :

en Español, nuestra nino? hay no: in Spanish, our baby? or not

arrorró mi niño/ arrorró mi amor/ arrorró pedazo de mi corazón: hush-a-bye my baby/ hush-a-bye my love/hush-a-bye oh piece of my heart

para tener una lengua neuva: to father a new tongue ( with feminine adjective and noun ) or to have a new tongue  ( literal translation )

Chantal Moclair: 'Ano Novo Sem Vozinha' Glossary

Portuguese WordPronunciationEnglish Translation/Meaning
Ainda nãoAy-een-da Now (with nasal inflection)Not yet.
Ano Novo sem Vozinha Ah-noo, no-vo, say (with nasal inflection) Voz-een-yaNew Year without granny.
BubbalooBubba-looBrand of bubblegum.
CheirosaShih- (as in shin) roz-aSmelling good.
Como sempreCo-mo sem-preyLike always.
Como agua vivaCo-mo ah-gwa vee-vaLike Jellyfish.
CopacabanaCo-pa-ka-ba-naBeach in Rio de Janeiro.
E que ela mesma nao sofreuEh Key el-ah miz-ma now sof-reyuAnd that she herself didn’t suffer.
Feliz ano novoFell-ease ah-no no-voHappy New Year.
IemanjáYem-ahn-jahGoddess of the sea in Candomble religion.
João Pessoa.Jo-ow (nasal inflection) Pess-o-ahCity in Northeastern Brazil.
Leite NinhoLay-tee Nee-nyoBrand of powdered milk.
Nao digo nada.Now (nasal inflection) Dee-goo Nah-dahI say nothing.
O que voce não deveria fazerOo keh vo-seh now (nasal inflection) dev-air-ee-ah fah-zairWhat you shouldn’t have done.
O que acontece  frenquentementeOo keh ak-on-tess-ee fren-qwen-ta-men-teeWhich happens often.
Que luzes?Keh loo-zeesWhat Lights?
RioRee-yoShort for Rio de Janeiro.
TapiocaTah-pee-ock-aPancakes made with manioc flour.
VozinhaVoz-een-yaNortheastern Brazilian term of endearment – small granny. Used very affectionately.

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.