This poem is the third section of a long, untitled poem. Each of the sections begins with “this morning / went out to buy bread” giving the sense of the same scene is being seen anew three times. By this third section, we have already discovered that the speaker is wearing a t-shirt with the word “Buceta!” (“Cunt!”) written on it in red letters.
In this workshop Francisco Vilhena, our guest translator, was joined by Adelaide Ivánova (whose collection the hammer and other poems he recently translated with Rachel Long). Adelaide is a close friend of the poet, Érica Zingano, and offered us her hints and intuitions about the likely political implications of the poem. The current social tensions in Brazil, with the rise and election of Bolsonaro, seem to underpin the poem. Many of the lines are formulated in the accusatory gestures of political hysteria, from the right or the left (“she is a communist cunt? / or a gayzista cunt? [...] is she a fascist cunt? / or is she one of those fashionistas?”)
In translating the poem, we decided to emphasise the feminist argument of the poem by deciding throughout on “she” rather than “it” when referring to the cunt. This made the force of the misogyny in the poem feel more direct and underlined how easy it is for political grievance from any perspective to be framed in a sexist construction. We also wanted to keep the cultural references in place. So we left the “#elenão” as it was (this is a hashtag meaning ‘anyone but him [Bolsonaro]’) as well as the pregnant woman from Taubaté (a woman who posed as pregnant for eleven months in order to benefit from people’s donations) and “varginha’s spacemxn” (which Francisco explained as Brazil’s Roswell). The decision to choose “spacemxn”, instead of “spaceman” or “alien”, was an example of transplanting the discoveries from one part of the translation to another. In an earlier line, Zingano makes a point of using the de-gendered pronoun “nós” but in English translating this as “wx” rather than “we” felt forced. Instead, we decided to introduce the idea into the inseminating “spacemxn”.
Edward Doegar, Commissioning Editor