‘Poem by Gottfried Benn’ by David Huerta
Translated by Jamie McKendrick.
This week's poem is by David Huerta from Mexico. The poem is read first in English translation by Jamie McKendrick and then in Spanish by David himself.
David Huerta's poems frequently turn on images that are experiences in themselves. In an eerie piece, he describes a poem by Gottfried Benn:
A flower fell apart in the middle of an autopsy
and the doctor who'd cut open the corpse
saw how those petals landed among the inner organs.
This may only be a poem, but it takes hold of the speaker, removing him from his daily obligations. It is ‘something I must / come to terms with it won't be easy but I have to do it'.
If ‘Poem by Gottfried Benn' recalls the violence of ‘Nine Years Later', it also revisits the earlier poem's cathartic purpose. Huerta turns away from questionable generalizations about history to concentrate on the experience of the individual. But he doesn't stop there; he casts a steady gaze back on the self that is the repository of that experience. This is not confessional poetry and he pokes fun at the autobiographical figure with his ‘imperious solipsistic moustache, / the hirsute landscape of minor characters'.
This is part of our new rebranded weekly release: the Dual Poetry Podcast, one poem in two languages from the Poetry Translation Centre. As ever we will be releasing a translated poem each week.
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