Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Three Poems by Valerio Grutt

Sep 29, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

It is an important occasion for all of us at The Antonym today. It is the International Translation Day ! To mark this occasion, we have been celebrating Translation Month throughout the month of September. As a part of that, a competition was announced wherein submissions were requested for translations of three poems from one’s mother tongue to English. We received an overwhelming number of submissions and we are happy to announce that we have chosen the four best entries! The following set of three poems by Valerio Grut, originally written in Italian, and translated to English by Patrick Willaimson, is one among the selected entries.


Translated from the Italian by Patrick Williamson

1

They’d closed August that day
with lemons on their eyes

I didn’t know anything yet
about aperitifs and Burton films

I was playing football
with the goalkeeper’s jersey

in the middle of the big zabaglione
where Naples floats

in the waiting room
they took the goldfish’s water away

the storm doctor said close the doors left ajar
they loaded darkness at the back of the neck and shot

it was an elephant with spindly legs
and didn’t take long to fall

it was the last Via Santa Lucia
that left the gulf shyly

they saw a flock rise in flight
from the cold square of my mother’s bed

they took the man away
they uprooted his hands from mine

when he returns he will stand before Antonio’s eyes
and in Maria’s arms like the son she never had

when he returns it will not be dark in the corridor
he will sit down at the table and say: “why did you wait so long…

you could have started”.


2

This open heart
can welcome everything:
bottle glass, floods,
tree roots, entire motorways,
concrete casting, constellations.
You pass without ducking your head
you and the death star, stilts,
the collapse of a dam.
This heart that opened
can hold everything, trembles
as a washer in the fury of a spin
and it’s here, it’s yours.


3

How do I wash these dishes
let Giulia’s past grudges
be washed.
If I wash the knife remove
from her mind the familiar
wounds, the sharp looks
that dug into her breast.
If I wash the glass I will remove
the bitch boredom of waiting
the useless regularity of a day
no calls no visitors.
If I wash the pot it purifies the heart
so it may be free from disappointment.

And this word doesn’t remain poetry
but breaks the glass
goes back to infinity and arrives right
at the center of the universe.


Also, read the other winning entries for Translation Month, published in The Antonym:

Three poems from Martial (I:1, VI:60 and X:35)

Of a Clandenstine Pen— Vahé Godel

English Translations of Three Poems by Jibanananda Das

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Valerio Grutt was born in Naples in 1983. He has notably published Una città chiamata le sei di mattina (Edizioni della Meridiana, 2009), Qualcuno dica buonanotte (Alla chiara fonte editore, 2013), Dammi tue notizie e un bacio a tutti (Interno Poesia, 2018), and L’amuleto – Appunti sul potere di guarigione della poesia (AnimaMundi, 2021). Director of the Centre for Contemporary Poetry at the University of Bologna from 2013 to 2016. His research blends the fields of music and visual art, he creates performances and installations. He currently works with Interno Poesia, a blog and publishing house.

www.valeriogrutt.it

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Recent poetry collections: Take a deep look (Cyberwit.net), Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014). Recent work in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, The High Window, and The Fortnightly Review. Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

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