ALFREDO PÉREZ ALENCART

WPP [World Poetry/Prose Portfolio]

New Series | No. 1

ALFREDO PÉREZ ALENCART, born in Puerto Maldonado, Perú in 1962 is a Peruvian-Spanish poet and teacher at the University of Salamanca. He has published 15 books, among them, Mother Forest (2002), Hear me, my Brethren (2009), Cartography of the Revelations (2011), Paradise Mud (2019), The Sun of the Blind (2021), and Monarchy of the Astonishment (Anthology, 2013). His work has been translated into 50 languages and he has received the international poetry award, the Vicente Gerbasi Medal (2009), the Jorge Guillen poetry Award (2012), the Humberto Peregrino (2015) and the Mihail Eminescu Medal (2017).

Translated from the Spanish by Stuart Park

INVOCATION

Brother,
wherever you might be,
unclench your fists,
and may there never
be a weapon in your hands again,

may conflict
no longer be your reason
for drawing close,

may only words
arise to win the argument.

May only your words persuade,
not blows or
bullets,
and may benevolence

rise up within you

*

INVOCACIÓN

Hermano,
estés donde estés,
abre los puños
y que no vuelvan
las armas a tus manos,

que la lucha
no insista en acercar
distancias,

que solo las palabras
se levanten y convenzan.

Que convenzan tus palabras,
no los golpes ni las
balas,
y que en ti se agigante

la benevolencia.

*

EVE

You, I speak to you,
female out of male,

woman that causes
your other rib
to tremble.

You are the strength
of the world,

woman,
who waits for the night
to impregnate man
with light.

who privatized him
for your protection

and delight

*

EVA

Tú, a ti hablo
hembra del hombre,

varona que haces
temblar a
tu otra costilla.

Tú eres la fuerza
del mundo,

mujer
que aguardas la noche
para preñar de luz
al hombre

que privatizaste
para tu amparo
y deleite.

*

CREATION

No whisper
of woman
accompanied
the desiring loneliness
of my adolescent days.

No rib came out
of my clay.

Then a leaf
of exquisite fragrance fell
and in my breast became
most loving flesh,

vibrant flame,
vein of transfusion
for all time.

Then the seed
of the only-begotten
was sown.

I moisten you with my mouth,
woman,

I knead you to myself.

*

CREACIÓN

Ningún
susurro de mujer
acompañó
la deseante soledad
de mis días adolescentes.

Ninguna costilla salía
de mi barro.

Entonces cayó una hoja
de exquisita fragancia
y en mi pecho
se hizo carne amantísima,

vibrante llama,
vena de transfusión para
siempre.

Luego empezó
la fecundación del
unigénito.

Te ensalivo,
mujer,

te amaso a mí.

*

MAY IT NEVER HAPPEN TO YOU

Things will be very different
when good fortune fades away,
and, when you see their shrunken bellies,
you search for your loved-ones’ bread.

You will be like the newcomer
scavenging at the rubbish dumps
and sleeping under bridges
while bright lights shine above.

You had forgotten
the citizenry of old
that tied famine round its neck
and shackled work to servitude.

You’ll suffer unthinkable privations
to hold down paltry jobs
with excellence and care
that no native worker wants.

We all travel in the same ship
that rises and falls with the tides.
Gold is a vain ambition
for tomorrow it may all be gone.

Yes; may it never happen to you

*

OJALÁ QUE NUNCA TE SUCEDA

A ti te tocará otra suerte
cuando se aleje la bonanza
y, al mirar en su vientre seco,
querrás ir tras el pan para los tuyos.

Serás como el recién llegado
que busca comida en la basura
y debe dormir bajo los puentes
mientras todo brilla por arriba.

Tú habías perdido la memoria
de esa pasada ciudadanía
que ataba las hambres a su cuello
y el trabajo a la servidumbre.

Pasarás desmedidas privaciones
para lograr empleos miserables
que los nativos del lugar no desean
y tú harás con puntual esmero.

Todos viajamos en un mismo barco
que sube y baja con la marea.
Por el oro nunca te envanezcas
pues bien puede faltar mañana.

Sí: ojalá que nunca te suceda.

*

FOR AFTERWARDS

When I am no more,
And no longer see you, deeply
moved,
for my soul has gone from me,

do not weep
for yesterday when
I went up
or down.

Divide the ashes
into two parts.

Then scatter them
over the rivers that coursed
through my heart.

And bid me farewell
with a psalm by the one
who vanquished Goliath.

And thus will I
open the darkened window
as my soul reclines
against an olive tree

from Gethsemane

*

PARA DESPUÉS

Cuando ya no esté
ni emocionado pueda verlos
porque mi alma salió,

no lloren
por el ayer que fui
hacia arriba o hacia
abajo.

Dos partes hagan
de las cenizas.

Aviéntenlas luego
a los ríos que me surcaron
el corazón.

Y díganme adiós
con un salmo de aquel
que venció a Goliat.

Así abriré la ventana ciega
con mi alma recostada
en un olivo

de Getsemaní.


Ars Notoria’s International Prose and Poetry editor, Sudeep Sen’s prize-winning books include: Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Rain, Aria (A. K. Ramanujan Translation Award), Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1980–2015 (London Magazine Editions), EroText (Vintage: Penguin Random House), Kaifi Azmi: Poems | Nazms (Bloomsbury) and Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation (Pippa Rann). He has edited influential anthologies, including: The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, World English Poetry, Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians (Sahitya Akademi), and Converse: Contemporary English Poetry by Indians (Pippa Rann). Blue Nude: Ekphrasis & New Poems (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) and The Whispering Anklets are forthcoming. Sen’s works have been translated into over twenty-five languages. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Herald, Poetry Review, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on the BBC, PBS, CNN IBN, NDTV, AIR & Doordarshan. Sen’s newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf / Random House / Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell), and Name me a Word (Yale). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS, editor of Atlas, and currently the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Museo Camera. Sen is the first Asian honoured to deliver the Derek Walcott Lecture and read at the Nobel Laureate Festival. The Government of India awarded him the senior fellowship for “outstanding persons in the field of culture / literature”.