A Hyena on My Sidewalk

Mirta Rosenberg
Translated from the Spanish by Yaki Setton & Sergio Waisman

Why did that hyenafollow me, did it pity me?Unpleasant animal,friendly thoughaccording to the ethologists,the very great epicenewas a bitter drink for me.What is that woman laughing at,                                      that hyena?What is she laughing at? Is she a womanor making a scene? The famoushysterical laughter? If she's not evenfrom the Americas, could she bedisoriented? Red she livesalmost next door and I,who wish to become nothing,have to listen to her adviceand dumb warnings:"in your condition,"she's said on several occasions,"you can't demand so much.But that's why I'm here, so you can have needs,"and she feinted as if to kiss me.My scavenger neighborwaits and belabors.Although sometimes I get panicky,something about this canine attracts me:though I live sitting down, frankly in diminishment,she still thinks to my astonishment,                                    —indulgent obscene hyena—that my flesh is a worthy arena.

Una Hiena en Mi Vireda

¿Por qué me siguióesa hiena, le habré dado pena?Antipático animal,amable sin embargoal decir de los etólogos,la grandísima epicenafue para mí un trago amargo.¿De qué se ríe esa mujer,                         esa hiena?¿De qué se ríe? ¿Es mujero hace la escena? ¿La famosarisa histérica? Si ni siquieraes de América, ¿estarádesorientada? Vive rojacasi al lado y yo,que quiero convertirme en nada,tengo que oír sus consejosy necias admoniciones:"en tus condiciones",dijo en varias ocasiones,"no podés exigir demasiado.Pero estoy acá para eso, para que puedas necesitar",y amagó con darme un beso.Mi vecina carroñeratiene paciencia y espera.Aunque a veces me de pánico,algo me atrae de este cánido:pese a que vivo sentada, en franco diminuendo,parece seguir creyendo,                          —indulgente hiena obsecna—que mi carne vale la pena.

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Photo of Mirta Rosenberg
Photo:
Valentina Rebasa

Mirta Rosenberg (Rosario, 1951 – Buenos Aires, 2019) was an Argentine poet, translator, and editor. She developed a unique style, influenced in part by the British and US poets she translated, that manifests sharp emotional revelations and an intense subjectivity, while reflecting on the linguistic and formal construction of language itself. Her books of poetry include Pasajes (1984), Madam (1988), Teoría sentimental (1994), El arte de perder (1998), El árbol de palabras (2006), El paisaje interior (2012), the anthology El arte de perder y otros poemas (2015), and Cuaderno de oficio (2016). She was a key member of Diario de Poesía (1986 – 2012) and founded the prestigious independent press Bajo la luna in 1990. Her poetry has been included in numerous anthologies, and individual poems have been translated into English, French, and German. She was awarded, among others, a Guggenheim Poetry Fellowship and a Konex Foundation Award.

Yaki Setton and Sergio Waisman
Photo:
Photo of Yaki Setton by Valentina Rebasa; Photo of Sergio Waisman by Emma Waisman

Yaki Setton was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1961. He has published eight books of poetry, including Quirurgia (Paradiso), Niñas (Bajo la luna), Nombres propios (Bajo la luna), La educación musical (Bajo la luna), Lej-Lejá (Bajo la luna), El beso (Bajo la luna) and Langosta (Bajo la luna, 2023). A chapbook English-language version of A Musical Education (translated by Sergio Waisman) was published by Toad Press in 2020. He is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Sergio Waisman has translated, among others, The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela (Penguin), three books by Ricardo Piglia, Juan José Saer’s The Regal Lemon Tree (Open Letter Books), and three titles for Oxford’s Library of Latin America. In 2000 he received an NEA Translation Fellowship Award for his work on Piglia’s The Absent City (Duke). He is also the author of Borges and Translation (Bucknell), and the novels Irse (Bajo la luna) and El encargo (Mansalva). He is a Professor of Spanish and Latin American Literatures at The George Washington University.

Cover of Interior Landscape by Mirta Rosenberg

Brooklyn, New York

"Mirta Rosenberg envisions an “age whose syntax, deeper, separate and steady,” envelops her whole. And there she dwells, in calm and incantation. All knickknacks and whatnot forbidden / leave your shoes outside / who steps into her house of words?"

—Kristin Dykstra

"Her style is rhythm and her style is a kind of faith (...) What rhythm is this? It is a respiration, and it comes… from a play of lexical and phonetic reiterations… It is a cadence of echoes that lead the way to emotion, to irony, and to a trembling, and which serve to mark the discourse, to break it up… In this kind of dance or balancing act, the words head toward an echo, they come from an echo, they swerve suddenly with slight alterations in sounds or signs…"

—Olvido García Valdés

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