April 26, 2009

Susana Thenon

Susana Thénon [Argentina]

Born in 1937, Argentine poet Susana Thénon was also a translator and artistic photographer. Her early collections, Edad sin tregua (1958), Habitante de la nada (1959), and De lugares extraños, contained references to Biblical and classical themes.

Influenced by the Italian I Novissmi poets and by figures such as the Brazilian poets Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Manuel Bandeira, as well as others, Thénon broke with her previous work in her 1984 collection, distancias. In this work Thénon pushed her spare and terse style further than previously, and explored a work, as she put it, in which she "entered a strange zone from which it would be difficult to return." In 1987 she continued that work in ova completa, and in other works, Ensayo general and papyrus, incomplete at the time of her 1990 death.


Edad sin tregua (Buenos Aires: Cooperativa Impresora y Distribuidora, 1958); Habitante de la nada (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Thiriel, 1959); De lugares extraños (Buenos Aires: Carmina, 1967); distancias (Buenos Aires: Torres Agüero Editor, 1984); ova completa (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1987)


distancias / distances, trans. by Renata Treitel (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1994)

from distancias


the wheel has stopped stop-
two three two three two the wheel
has stopped broken inside
only wood eyes enter
only memory conic
only memory face to the sky it is not possible
that she should still burn more should burn still more
burn alone eternal as if the wind (something)
would not scatter her crumbs her clothes undone
desired body light of the night birds
homicides under the bridge go away cold
(something) in cadence sea
and it whistled and said creature mud
said and laughed trumpet of vein
laughed aimed trembled flesh
and fired bundle
ethereal (something)
and sun (a woman)
hatchets of sun (before the locked door)
scratch the door (looks for her key) it clears
her chest (says in a loud voice) her eye (open to me i) her hand
(calls calls) the edge (no) of the river (no) of blood
(no) of blood that runs away wild thread black with fear
between threshold and door meeting her steps
the wheel has stopped stop-
two three two three two the wheel
has stopped

─Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel


there's a country (but not mine)
where night is only in the afternoon
(but not ours)
and thus sings a star its free time

throughout death i will think
since dying is not mine
and I still shine with dazzled blood
(there's a country) the dream of falling
(there's a country)
and i with myself (and always)
with love unmoved

─Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel


the great snake that embraces the world
sleeps you too sleep
i sleep pure of sound
we smile against the desperate and alone
among the flowers no
(you can) no (you cannot) and of the day
it rains shadow dawned you tremble with
death prior to death
i sleep a stranger to the map of the seas here i read
your dream no longer here i read
your wolf-laughter white language i decipher
no (you cannot on)
and now
the drop falls (drink love)
with a whole sky of packed madness

─Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel



the embrace the embrace in the afternoon
how immortal i have been
and how little the alien future hurts
this stone without rest you were eternal still
you were the last the first the nothing
and nothing but sun your glance my blindness
sun forever yesterday and we turned night
and the embrace was the sea

─Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel


the night

i shelter unsheltered
i shelter day blind
delicate flammable
i shelter this old shell
among so many other shells
that bursts with stinking fires
and pure reason exalted vertebrates

and the eye grows
ejects fires the hands
and the eye suddenly flesh
goes to meet the unseeing
distills in bars not tears but
iron sharks venereal soup
and the eye of sudden city
gets lost in the museum of wrath
body without funeral
the son rolls like a moon

like that other time
in my creak-filled horror
in my suitcase of bird
the futureless girl
drinks her foolish name

i brood
my light tongue
on this crack
bitter accomplice
of the dayless awakening
i feed on eyelid shine of dead lark

Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel


and the words

and the

and the patios that burn
long after the sun
no longer crossed by any evil no
steps embraced

and the patios and the words

─Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel

(from distancias, 1984)


one of the great evils
that affect wominhood
before they called it stress
and before that strass
or Strauss
it's like a waltz
the shadowless woman stumbled through
there's no drama she's drunk
drunk the bitch


(from ova completa, 1987)

—Translated from the Spanish by Renata Treitel


Selections from distancias
Reprinted from distancias/distances, trans. by Renata Treitel (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1994). Copyright ©1994 by Renata Treitel. Reprinted by permission of Sun & Moon Press.

©2002 by Renata Treitel. Reprinted by permission of Renata Treitel.

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