Valerie Mejer Caso
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Roughly three percent of books published in the United States are translations, and only around 30% of those are books written by women. When you start looking at poetry collections, you’re taking a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, until you arrive at a number so small that, according to the translation database housed at Publishers Weekly, a scant nineteen translated books of poems written by women will be published by the end of 2018. One of those is the easiness and the loneliness by Asta Olivia Nordenhof, a best-selling poetry collection that took Denmark by storm and arrives in English with Open Letter Books this October. With poems that double as social critiques, it addresses the difficulties of living under financial strain, various forms of abuse, and working in a brothel. To round out Women in Translation Month, we wanted to create this playlist to celebrate Nordenhof and to shine a spotlight on a handful of other living female poets already available in translation.View playlist
For Valerie Mejer Caso, EDINBURGH NOTEBOOK is a testament to the power of language’s ability to heal and to help come close to answering the questions we thought grief would silence us from asking. Written in the wake of her brother Charlie’s suicide, Mejer Caso’s collection, through honest language and hallucinatory imagery, examines the consequences of uncertainty and sorrow when those we love the most are gone.
—Esteban Rodríguez, Heavy Feather Review
Michelle Gil-Montero’s translation of EDINBURGH NOTEBOOK is tuned in to the echoey, open sounds of Mejer Caso’s poetry as in “rolling like worlds” and “The crone Moon was coming back.” But more than just tracking sonic echoes, Gil-Montero manages the many unruly, thematic trails of Mejer Caso’s poetry throughout her translation, reminding the reader through purposeful reiterations and resonant images of the same event, at once a flight and a fall, a vacuum, a silence, an explosion.
—Mallory Truckenmiller Saylor, Kenyon Review
Painter and poet Valerie Mejer Caso was born in Mexico City into a family of European immigrants. She is the author of the poetry collections Rain of the Future (2013), translated by C.D. Wright, Forrest Gander, and Alexandra Zelman; de la ola, el atajo (2009); Geografías de Niebla (2008); Esta Novela Azul (2004), which was translated by Michelle Gil-Montero as This Blue Novel (2015); and Ante el Ojo de Cíclope (1999). Her book De Elefante a Elefante (1997) won the Spanish Government’s “Gerardo Diego 1966” International Award. Mejer Caso has collaborated with photographers, among them Barry Shapiro and Russel Monk. With the photographer D.S Borris, Mejer Caso and Forrest Gander co-authored Time’s Playing Fields, a book about empty football fields in Mexico (Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, TX). She has translated poetry by Charles Wright, Ruth Fainligth, and Pascale Petit. From 2016-17, she participated in the Biennale of Kochi-Muziris in India, where she exhibited her unfolded book “Untamable Light.” Her poetry has been translated into English, Slovenian, and Korean.
Michelle Gil-Montero is a poet and translator of Latin American poetry, hybrid-genre writing, and criticism. She has been awarded fellowships from the NEA and Howard Foundation, as well as a Fulbright US Scholar’s Grant to Argentina and a PEN/Heim Translation Prize. She is the author of Attached Houses (Brooklyn Arts Press) and Object Permanence (Ornithopter Press). She is Professor of English at Saint Vincent College, where she directs the Minor in Literary Translation. She publishes contemporary Latin American poetry in translation at Eulalia Books (eulaliabooks.com).View playlist