cover image Micrograms


Jorge Carrera Andrade, trans. from the Spanish by Alejandro de Acosta and Joshua Beckman. Wave (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-933517-55-1

In his short, lyrical introduction to the form—which locates the microgram within the history of the Spanish epigram, saeta, proverb, and song—Andrade tells us the microgram discovers “the deep reality of the object (its secret attitude).” Defining the microgram by its kinship to other forms creates a brilliant foundation for the poems, since often, as in “Definition of a Seagull,” members of the natural world are defined by their metaphorical relation to objects within our own. Thus the seagull is a “kerchief of shipwreck” and the seashell becomes “a memorial stone” to that same fallen bird. Beckman and de Acosta translate the microgram with loyalty to Andrade’s flare for the Romantic, showing us the unseen world of creatures who are engaged in jobs and tasks that mirror our workaday lives. The mouse is a “workshop official,” the caterpillar a palm reader, and in a late, stunning passage we see “Crickets plant their blue flags/ atop the evening/ with tiny glass hammers.” A final section of freely translated Japanese haiku pays tribute to the economy and lonely meditation of the microgram, and oddly enough it’s Basho who deepens Andrade’s Romantic enterprise: “Pepper of my soil,” he says, “Give it wings/ and it is a red dragonfly.” (Nov.)