La cabeza de la Medusa / The Medusa’s head
Sergio Badilla Castillo
(with translations by Roger Hickin & Sergio Badilla Castillo)
Softcover chapbook 28pp
Sergio Badilla Castillo (b. Valparaíso, Chile, 1947) is a poet who, to borrow Ben Belitt’s words about Pablo Neruda, “makes a discipline of . . . [his] excesses”. Such was Badilla’s talent as a young man, he was hailed as Neruda’s heir apparent, and like Neruda’s his poetry is mercurial, oneiric, protean, torrential. Like his literary forebear too, Badilla is a nomad (his real father was a sailor), a pirate whose poems are studded with vivid images and graphic incidents ransacked from the accumulated wealth of world history and culture. On a deeper level, he is a latter-day shaman who throws himself into perilous journeys to report back on the chaos at the heart of things, transmuting his observations and experiences, jostling and blending reality and myth, certainty and uncertainty, beauty and horror, in hallucinatory, “transreal” poems that disrupt the linear coherence of past, present and future, encompassing multiple dimensions and temporalities in a single parachronic glance, whose aim is ultimately the “uchronic” (cf. “utopian”) release from the tyranny of time as the salt-grain of the lyric “I” disperses with all else into the waters of eternity.
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I sigh with a sigh’s inertia
with pain gripping my heart
because in a stale hallucination
I went as Perseus to meet the Medusa
with her bronze claws and her ivory tusks.
To put it plainly
in phoenix tones
now I‘m immovable
only my soul
bears a grudge.
translation © Roger Hickin & Sergio Badilla Castillo