Ms Trolley Recalls Countries


We were very glad that our literal translator, Serafina Vick, had brought in two more sonnets by the fabulous Legna Rodriguez Iglesias. We began with this one which deals with the experience of being a migrant in Miami: riding the cheap ‘trolley’, sleeping on a sofa-bed and waiting to see if you have been ‘approved’. We liked the conversational tone, and started by using the idiom ‘to cut a long story short’, which we felt had Legna’s meaning and also sounded chatty.

Most debate focused on the idea of ‘the look’ which became ‘that look’. Was this a poem about looking wrong (too foreign, too female)? Or looking too defiant? Is ‘looking in the eyes of whoever’ a gesture of equality and kindness, or a refusal to back down before authority? The last line seemed ambiguous too. Is it about how Ms Trolley looks at ‘aliens’? Or is she the ‘alien’? In the end we chose to keep (and heighten) that final ambiguity...

Clare Pollard