the woman


This was our second workshop on the wonderfully surprising poetry of Carla Diacov. Annie McDermott, our guest translator, explained that Diacov often writes in a direct, plain-language style but uses startling juxtapositions, humour and images to foreground the inequalities or absurdities buried in daily life. This approach - using a relatively simple vocabulary and a directness of speech - meant that our translation could remain fairly close to the bridge-translation that Annie provided. We felt the poem would be best served by retaining the slightly odd syntax of the Brazilian Portuguese, where lines such as “bled where she passed the cloth the floor buffer” allow the nouns to occur in sequence, almost as discrete events. This intensified the sense of unease that comes from the poem’s last line. This line seems to turn the potential of the rest of the poem. Throughout, the lines could be seen as either instances of feminine agency in the privacy of the woman’s own experience or, after reading the last line, they might be reinterpreted through the male gaze. Whilst we tried, largely, to lean more towards the former the last line did charge some of the sexualised word choices / constructions with the potential menace of being seen by a neighbour. However we tried to keep the surprise of the final line - so effective when we first listened to the poem - in both strong rhythm of the line and the gradual revelation of sense.

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