The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts

Issue 12: Winter/Spring 2019

Selected Poems from Black and Blue Partition: ‘Mistry 2

by Monchoachi, translated by Patricia Hartland

Special Guest Judge, William Rodarmor

Patricia Hartland set herself a major challenge in translating Monchoachi, a poet prolific in both French and Martinican Creole. Monchoachi is the pseudonym of André Pierre-Louis, who was born in Martinique in 1946. Hartland calls his work ‘a site of both play and resistance… of becomings, origins, and renewals.’ Patrick Chamoiseau says Monchoachi has completely renewed the relationship of the Creole language to French. This means that a vigilant translator must look in two different linguistic directions while plotting her course in a third.

Hartland brings impressive skills to the task. An MFA candidate for poetry at Notre Dame, she focuses on post-colonial, linguistically hybrid, francophone texts. And she lends a deft touch to her Monchoachi translations.

Here is a sample from “The child who birthed the mother”:

Forged up the watercourse:

in the mirrorment the paradise,

the subtle game of reflections,

reflections inebriated,

the sounds enchantment,

absolute lightness,

Appear-disappear

the mask,

the showing

unity of all

piety in all.

Piotr Florczyk is a poet, essayist, and translator of Polish poetry. His most recent books are East & West, a volume of poems from Lost Horse Press, and two volumes of translations published by Tavern Books, My People & Other Poems by Wojciech Bonowicz and Building the Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska, which won the 2017 Found in Translation Award and the 2017 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award. Florczyk, a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California, lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. For more info, please visit piotrflorczyk.com.