The Dissection

Susana Thénon
Translated from the Spanish by Rebekah Smith

almost holy thingis an almost holy thinga thing almostalmost holyso almost holy is this thingthat it forcibly draws the attentionthe almost absolute blindness of peopletaking into account that in the final accountingit is almost unnecessary to see to believe in a thing so almostso consequently almostholyand what’s more this element or thinghas bledor almostand we can esteem it from the shade of what’s almost bleedingover the earth over the earth over this exact same earthand resuming the explanationwe have this thinga thing bah a tonof thing almost half holyand what’s more bloody and thereforeand in budding almost ad nauseamand this thing in another order of thingsresists with almost all of its buttonsbeing almost uncoveredanalyzed pulverized evisceratedup to its final internal reasonsbetter to say almost internal because the thing itselfdoesn’t peel off so easilybut rather layer by layerlike an artichokelike winterand time ah time that disjunctivefactor that almost runs out hereand therefore impedes usfrom reaching the great whyand the superhow of this thingalmost holyso tam tam almost holyso almost almostalmost so holy

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Susana Thénon
Photo:
Anatole Saderman

Susana Thénon (1935–1991) is a key poet of the ’60s generation in Argentina. In Ova Completa, her final, most radical collection, Thénon’s poetics expands to incorporate all it touches—classical and popular culture, song lyrics and vulgarities, incoherence and musicality—embodying humor and terror while writing obliquely of femicide, Argentina’s last dictatorship, the Malvinas / Falklands war, the heritage of colonialism. Ova Completa is a collection full of stylistic innovation, language play, dark humor, and socio-political insight, or, as Thénon writes, “me on earth; me with the others; me ignorant, rude, all mixed in Latin, Greek, shit, noodles, culture, and barbarism.”

Rebekah Smith is a translator, editor, and writer based in New York.

Ova Completa Cover

Brooklyn, New York

"I’ve never encountered a handful of poems this intriguing … It took just a sampling of Ova Completa to expand both my sense of the Argentinian literary landscape and my sense of poetic innovation."
—Terrance Hayes

"I’m in disbelief that these poems were written over thirty years ago by someone born in 1935. How can it be? Susana Thénon’s flair for code-switching—from Argentine regionalisms to mock etymologies to an ever-seductive English—seems ahead of its time, as do her poems’ fragmentariness, skepticism of language and its institutions. (Vide letters, bureaucracy.) Clearly, they weren’t, but that’s the magic of their immediacy and of Rebekah Smith’s brilliant translations. Caustic, restless, and delighting in their own performativity, they’ll make you want to catch up with them."
—Mónica de la Torre

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