Malanga Chasing Vallejo: Selected Poems of Cesar Vallejo with New Translations and Notes

Gerard Malanga. Three Rooms (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (278p) ISBN 978-0-9895125-7-2
Peruvian-Parisian writer Vallejo (1892–1938), one of the great Spanish-language modernists, became both a searing poet of linguistic innovation and a heartbreaking writer on human disconnection. Americans do not lack for versions of Vallejo, but this bilingual selection has three merits. It's a new and largely careful introduction to most of Vallejo's career, from The Black Heralds (1919) to "España, Aparta De Mí Este Cáliz," a late long poem on the Spanish Civil War. It comes with letters and documents, in an appendix, from the poet's widow Georgette. And it comes from Malanga, who began as a player in Andy Warhol's Factory and has since become a prolific, successful poet, filmmaker, and portrait photographer on his own. Malanga has been translating Vallejo since 1969; he does well with the poet's sense of fatigue and with his strange blend of alienation and yearning. What seems enticingly bizarre in Vallejo's Spanish can end up, in Malanga, simply unidiomatic: "I cry out, then, without stopping/ either of living, without turning/ either in the joust I venerate." Malanga sometimes sticks to literal sense, but not always. His translations probably will not become the standard, but they are welcome anyway; the attention they bring to the Spanish can only do good. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/06/2015
Release date: 11/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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