Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trilingual Blue Bravura


I recently had the pleasure and the honor of one of my poems appearing in translation: Spanish and Romanian.

In February 2017, Eileen R. Tabios — my "poet sister" and "verse kumadre" — published Your Father Is Bald, a history and collection of the hay(na)ku form, which Eileen invented in 2003. I happen to be the namer of the hay(na)ku . . . a portmanteau pun on "haiku" and the Philippine expression "hay naku" (kinda like "oy vey" or "oh my god").

Your Father Is Bald, put out by PIM Publishing House in Romania, is trilingual — in English, Spanish, and Romanian — and Eileen invited me to be a "guest poet" in the book. So my hay(na)ku poem "Blue Bravura" appears there, my first time being translated into other languages.

If you're not familiar with the hay(na)ku, it's basically a tercet with one word in the first line, two words in the second line, and three words in the third line — a deceptively simple form that is amazingly flexible and expressive. This 1-2-3 patterning produces the book's title. "Your Father Is Bald" comes from the Philippine nursery rhyme "isa, dalawa, tatlo, and tatay mo'y kalbo"; in English this translates into "one, two, three, your father is bald." Much more fun in Filipino!

Here is my poem next to the Spanish and the Romanian versions.

Blue Bravura
For the
Griffin Lit
sixth graders
and their teacher
Ms. Filas
poems
like gems
in my pocket

gleam
and glisten
in the dark

glowing
always with
their blue light

saying
hey you
pay close attention

bluebirds
blueberries sky
blue blue blue

blue
egyptian jewels
sapphire tanzanite turquoise

blue
lapis lazuli
azurite aquamarine topaz

blue
jade dragon
breathing carnelian flames

blue
steel blades
crocodile kampilan swords

blues
blazing rock
guitar bass timbales

blue
prophecies ballads
in yours mine

our
blue pockets
brilliant breathtaking words
      Coraje azúl
Para los niños
del sexto grado
de Griffin Lit
y su maestra,
Ms. Filas
poemas
como diamantes
en mi bolsillo

brillan
y alumbran
en la oscuridad

brillando
siempre con
su luz azúl

diciendo
oye tú
pon atención aquí

azúlejo
arándano cielo
azúl, azúl, azúl

azules
joyas egipcias.
zafiro, tansánito, turquesa

azúl
lapislázuli
azúl celeste, aguamarina, topacio

azúl
dragón de jade
llamas de cornalina

azúles
hojas de acero
espadas kampilanes

blues
rock explosivo
tímpanos de guitarra

baladas
profecías azúles
reencuentro en ti

nuestros
bolsillos azúles
brillantes palabras abrumantes
      Curaj albastru
Pentru copiii din
clasa a şasea
de la Griffin Lit
şi profesoarei lor,
Doamna Filas
poeme
ca nestemate
în buzunarul meu

strălucesc
ş􀀙i luminează
în acest întuneric

strălucind
întotdeauna cu
lumina lor albastră

spunând
hei tu
fii atent aici

albastru
cer albăstriu
albastru, albastru, albastru

albastre
bijuterii egiptene
safir, tanzanit, turcoaz

albaş􀀁tri
lapis lazuli
azur, acvamarin, topaz

albastru
dragon jad
flăcări vii cornalină

albastre
lame de otel
săbii kampilan

blues
rock exploziv
timbale chitară bas

balade
preziceri
albastre regăsesc în tine

buzunarele
noastre albastre
strălucitoare cuvinte copleş􀀁itoare

—Vince Gotera, from Your Father Is Bald by Eileen R. Tabios (PIM Publishing House, 2017).

This poem goes back to April 26, 2012, when I featured on the blog the Griffin Lit wiki where Danielle Filas and her sixth graders at Village Academy Schools in Powell, Ohio, were posting NaPoWriMo poems. That day was The Academy of American Poets' "national poem in your pocket day" and I wrote this poem in tribute to that inspiring class of young poets. Those kids are now juniors in high school. I hope some of them are still writing poems!

By the way, the Spanish translation is by Diana Dragomirescu; the Romanian by Gabriela Apetrei, Elena Țăpean, Ioana Agafiței, and Irina Secărescu. I love their work except that both translations, strangely, leave out the word "crocodile" in line 27.


Won’t you comment, please? I'd love to hear what you’re thinking. To comment, look for a red line below that starts Posted by, then click once on the word comments in that line. If you don’t find the word “comments” in that line, then look for a blue link below that says Post a comment and click it once. Thanks!

Ingat, everyone.   

2 comments:

Danielle Filas said...

This is wonderdful news. And it's so kind of you to note our school and our budding poets (soon to go to *college* if you can believe it) in your description here. It's a lovely poem, and we're thrilled to have shared part of your path to creativity. Best wishes!

Vince Gotera said...

Danielle, so sorry, I just found your comment. Thank you! Best wishes back atcha.

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