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Poetry in Translation Editor’s Note

Amid this pandemic, we are reminded once again how interconnected we are, as much as we celebrate our differences. In this way here’s an extraordinary gathering of poetry in translation from Ukraine, South America and China that might also be viewed as threads of an intricately woven and richly diverse fabric of humanity.

We begin with Dzvinia Orlowsky’s engaging interview with award winning co-translators Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps as they offer a glimpse into the poetry and translation of one of Ukraine’s unique contemporary voices, Sehiy Zhadan, whose recently published collection What We Live For, What We Die For, Selected Poems from Yale University Press has received wide acclaim.

A leading Mapuche poet (from what is now Argentina) Liliana Ancalao in her robust and lucid narrative “washing clothes on a saturday afternoon,” reveals, in Seth Michaelson’s deft hands, the tragic irony in bold and stark terms of a historical moment from this indigenous culture that radiates with a gut punch.

We are delighted to feature “Mari Epu” by award-winning Mapuche-Huilliche poet Jaime Luis Huenun from Chile.  Catherine Steele, in her vivid rendering, captures in this chant the dark power of duende through arresting language that “howls of virulent forests” as it reveals its vision of lost humanity.

Yang Xiaobin’s postmodern and satiric voice leads us to a chilling vision where “the rebel army shoots down the moon/so one cannot tell shadows from bloodstains.” These parable-like poems, finely translated by Canaan Morse, articulate the reality of a political climate of militarization and violence where the fist has become “this century’s sexy UFO.”

–Barbara Siegel Carlson and Ewa Chrusciel

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