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A Certain Roughness in Their Syntax


Jorge Aulicino, Judith Filc (Translator)


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Poetry. Latinx Studies. Translated from the Spanish by Judith Filc. Splintering like light in a prism, the poems of Jorge Aulicino combine images of the Dirty War in Argentina, of historic Latin American independence struggles, and of the battles against fascism in Europe. Translated into English for the first time by poet Judith Filc working closely with Aulicino, this influential book (published in Spanish in 2008) is filled with the experiences of a grandson of European immigrants now chronicling a world where multitudinous cities are cracking under their own weight in an ongoing present whose common denominator is war. Testifying for the migrating masses he has called pariahs of empire, who traverse a globe with no stable borders, Aulicino's lyrical I shifts between roles, exile or spy or reporter taking detailed notes.

'I am the scribe of the Party and of declassified files, ' writes Argentine poet, translator, and journalist Aulicino in this 50-part poem, his first to be translated into English--an account of Old and New World battles against the totalitarian spirit. Aulicino composes with a journalist's sense of scene and a poet's eye for imagery, leading readers through cities that do 'not stop making noises' and the 'repetitive world' of 'barbarians and jungles.' The poem, presented in en face translation, traverses ports and eras like a container ship full of the industrial world's 'overproduction, ' moving between 'foreign coves. / Hong Kong or whatever. Sumatra.' An ever-present undertow of violence marks the work, evidenced in the mutating refrain 'and yet, armies.' Aulicino also references an array of artists, writers, and historical figures. With an almost sardonic deadpan, he jumps seven centuries in two lines, weaving the prescient words of a 12th-century sultan into the fate of Nazi general Friedrich Paulus: 'You cannot, / said Saladin, start a siege with forces at your rear. / The circle closed on Von Paulus.' He later collapses time again, describing Attila behind the wheel of a Porsche. 'The state of eternal destruction is his certainty, ' Aulicino writes of his Attila--a sentiment that the poet undoubtedly shares.--Publishers Weekly

Tupelo Press, 9781946482020, 114pp.

Publication Date: December 1, 2017