Features

13 Poets in Translation for National Poetry Month

Including poems you can read online right now for free.

April is National Poetry Month, which was first organized in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. We at the Chicago Review of Books are big fans of poetry, especially poetry in translation and published by small presses. To celebrate these incredible poets, translators, and presses, I’ve curated a list of some of my favorite poets in translation. Below are links to books you can purchase (please support small presses!) and poems you can read online right now for free.


Friederike Mayröcker

Most recent publication in English:
The Communicating Vessels (A Public Space Books, forthcoming October 2020, trans. Alexander Booth)

Poems to read right now:
Four Poems online at BOMB Magazine translated from the German by Jonathan Larson

Excerpt:
“the spring gleam as soon as the spirit paints and verses itself, and
defiant sun strophe, while the lilacs waft


Miyó Vestrini 

Most recent publication in English:
Grenade in Mouth (Kenning Editions, 2019, trans. Cassandra Gillig & Anne Boyer)

Poems to read right now:
Three Poems online at Granta translated from the Spanish by Cassandra Gillig & Anne Boyer

Excerpt:
“Last night you decided:
if I cannot sleep,
I’ll choose death.
But you could not have expected the leg of lamb to melt in your mouth”


Kim Yideum

Most recent publication in English:
Blood Sisters (Deep Vellum, 2019, trans. Jiyoon Lee)

Poems to read right now:
Four Poems online at Asian American Writers’ Workshop translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, Soeun Seo, and Hedgie Choi

Excerpt:
“Reality is an exceptional time without dreams.
The smell of drying peppers blows in
from a vanished mill.”


Ahmed Bouanani

Most recent publication in English:
The Shutters (New Directions, 2018, trans. Emma Ramadan)

Poems to read right now:
An excerpt online at Words Without Borders translated from the French by Emma Ramadan

Excerpt:
“Can we one day
name the fruits of the earth
live at home with a human face?”


Ana Luísa Amaral

Most recently publication in English:
What’s In a Name? (New Directions, 2017, trans. Margaret Jull Costa)

Poems to read right now:
Six poems online from Poems from the Portuguese, translated from the Portuguese by Ana Hudson

Excerpt:
“They say the Greeks
knew five ways to talk
of love.
We only know one, which cannot contain 
the near paradox
of love being all we know of love
and nothing else”


Kim Hyesoon

Most recent publication in English:
The Autobiography of Death (New Directions, 2018, trans. Don Mee Choi)

Poems to read right now:
“Lean on the Water” online at Literary Hub translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi 

Excerpt:
“Let’s be slant together
Let’s fall embracing each other”


Stéphane Bouquet

Most recent publication in English:
The Next Loves (Night Boat, 2019, trans. Lindsay Turner)

Poems to read right now:
“Light of the Fig” online at World Literature Today translated from the French by Lindsay Turner

Excerpt:
“We’ve lived up to now and now we’re going to get through
                one more winter
even if a certain number of our species surely won’t.”


Tanella Boni

Most recent publication in English:
The Future Has an Appointment with the Dawn (U Nebraska, 2018, trans. Todd Fredson)

Poems to read right now:
Nine Poems online at EuropeNow translated from the French by Todd Fredson

Excerpt:
“I dance a welcoming music in my skin
first ground for any home
while the hands of plenty the portly souls
weave their barbed wire
I don’t know if we live together
at a crossroad of equal distribution”


Hilda Hilst

Most recent publication in English:
Of Death. Minimal Odes (co•im•press, 2018, trans. Laura Cesarco Eglin)

Poems to read on right now:
Three poems online at Latin American Literature Today translated from the Portuguese by Laura Cesarco Eglin

Excerpt:
“As if the lips looked for
their converse
that’s how I look for you
torsion of all depths.”


Abdellatif Laâbi

Most recent publication in English:
In Praise of Defeat (Archipelago, 2017, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith)

Poems to read right now:
Two Poems online at BOMB translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith

Excerpt:
“Inhabiting your body
is not easy
it is a haunted house
a minefield
One ought to be able to rent it
just for the holidays”


Mona Kareem

Most recent publication in English:
Femme Ghosts (Publication Studio Rotterdam, 2019)

Poems to read right now:
Eleven Poems online at Poetry International translated from the Arabic by the author

Excerpt:
“Look a last time:
This darkness will not pass away with night’s end.”


Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

Most recent publication in English:
Bleeding From All 5 Senses (White Pine Press, 2020, trans. Cole Heinowitz)

Poems to read right now:
Three Poems online at Literary Hub translated from the Spanish by Arturo Mantecón

Excerpt:
“The sea stands on its head
& sings to us / in the most naked idiom related to our sense of touch”


Mariana Marin

Most recent publication in English:
Paper Children (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006, trans. Adam J. Sorkin)

Poems to read right now:
Five poems online at Words Without Borders translated from the Romanian by Julian Semilian

Excerpt:
“If only I had
a civilized technique for survival,
(I hear it haunts us, it isn’t a ghost,
it walks around here on earth!)”

Kyle Williams is a writer living in Brooklyn. He is an Interviews Editor for Full Stop, Director of Communications for Chicago Review of Books, and A Public Space’s 2019 Emerging Writer Fellow. He is on Twitter @kylecangogh.

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