Poems

Wine on the Curtains

Notes

Before we began trying to translate this poem, our guest translator Adam Feinstein shared some of the poet’s thoughts on it, explaining that the poem was about alcoholism and that he wanted it to convey a sense of being trapped. 

We spent a lot of time thinking about the stanza beginning ‘This is a hirsute slippage / of time’. As Adam explained, Huerta is renowned for the unusual combinations of his adjectives and nouns. We discussed, at length, what a ‘hairy drift of time’ might be not finding it easy to imagine. But we decided its elusiveness as a metaphor was in keeping with the disorientation of the stanza and the implied viewpoint of someone potentially coming to consciousness after a heavy bout of drinking. We decided to retain the slightly obscure ‘hirsute’ as (in English) it offered a felicitous near-homonym to ‘hair-shirt’. The religious imagery of the work and explicit references to the ‘rod / of asceticism’ and ‘a Franciscan life’ encourage this train of association. 

We also tried to convey the dizzying effect of the poem and ensure that human qualities and agency was given to the non-sentient throughout the poem (‘Sickly fumes’; ‘hirsute slippage / of time’; ‘wayward shoes’). The effect seemed to underscore the protagonist’s passive, imprisoned position.

Edward Doegar, Commissioning Editor

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