The signalled hour
Fine so we lost paradise because
of some guardian angel’s broken lease it was time
We were evicted at spear point nudged out
at gunpoint I mean (I don’t want to hurt anyone)
They’ve banned heaven and hell too
It’s limbo we’re right where we were
they give us shelter it’s true
but that’s all it is
Now that we wander in search of the moon
the plowed earth is dark the roads
walk down themselves it was time
The signalled hour shoots itself in the head
Only doors of the mind open for us now.
translation © Steven F. White
La hora señalada
Está bien el paraíso lo perdimos por precario
comodato de ángel guardián era la hora
Desolojados fuimos a lanzazos a besos
mejor dicho de armas (no quiero herir a nadie)
Nos han vedado el cielo ya el infierno
Este es el limbo estamos donde estábamos
nos cobijan aquí es la verdad
pero eso es todo
Ahora que vagamos en busca de la luna
oscura está la gleba los caminos
marchan sobre sí mismos era la hora
La hora señalada se dispara en la sien
Sólo puertas mentales se nos abren ahora.
© Juan Cameron
So we lost paradise
Selected poems of Juan Cameron
with translations by Cola Franzen,
Steven F. White & Roger Hickin
One of the major voices of contemporary Chilean poetry, Juan Cameron was born in Valparaíso in 1947. His poems, which for many years reflected the split reality of living first under a dictatorship & then in exile, have been both antipoetic & lyrical, nostalgic & irreverent: rather than Neruda, his forebears are Huidobro, Parra & Enrique Lihn. Members of his own generation were just commencing their literary careers when the Pinochet dictatorship began. To circumvent draconian censorship laws that forbade any criticism of the regime, they resorted to a coded language that could be understood by anyone familiar with the situation. Not belonging to any official group, Cameron could not earn a living, & after some years of struggle, he emigrated to Sweden, where he remained for ten years. Now back in Valparaíso, he lives within earshot of the creaks of the cable cars, with his wife & collaborator, the graphic artist Virginia Vizcaíno. His fellow poet Aristóteles España has described Cameron’s poetry as “a house of memory”, subject to drafts of “Gogolian air”, its obsessional imagery redolent of rain-showers & thunderclaps.
Apart from three chapbooks of translations by Cola Franzen (Si regreso / If I go back, Cross-Cultural Communications, New York 1993; Anoche terminó la guerra / Last night the war ended, Cold Hub Press 2010, & Invocaciones a Pincoya en el país de la lluvia / Invocations to Pincoya in the country of rain, Cold Hub Press 2011) this is the first selection of Juan Cameron’s poetry
to appear in English.
Cola Franzen has been named by Christopher Maurer “the most graceful and faithful of translators”. In 2000 her translations of Jorge Guillén's poetry, Horses in the Air and other poems, won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets, & her Poems of Arab Andalusia has been described as a literary treasure.
Steven F. White has translated & edited many volumes of Spanish American poetry. His translation, with Greg Simon, of Lorca’s
Poet in New York, was widely acclaimed.
Roger Hickin is a New Zealand poet and visual artist
and editor of Cold Hub Press.
Front cover image:
we walked through the night and came upon this,
freepost per copy – national & international