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Published: January 02, 2018
Mark Putnam and Lola Hidalgo-Calle have translated two books of poetry by 21st century Spanish women poets.
Mark Putnam and Lola Hidalgo-Calle have translated two books of poetry by 21st century Spanish women poets.

Lola Hidalgo-Calle, professor of Spanish, languages and linguistics, and Mark Putnam, associate professor of English, published A Study of Twenty-first Century Andalusian Poetry. The text presents seven 21st century Spanish women poets — Juana Castro, Rosa Diaz, Paloma Fernández Gomá, María Rosal, María del Valle Rubio, Pilar Sanabria and María Sanz — from the region of Andalucía, Spain, and includes representative poems from each poet in Spanish and translated into English.

Q: Where did the idea for this project come from?

A: We focused on women writers from Andalusia, Spain, because Lola is from Seville, Andalusia. This is a region with a rich tradition in the written word, and Lola is quite familiar with these writers’ work. We thought it would be a good idea to create an anthology of women poets from this region. Mark became involved when we decided to translate their works from Spanish into English, since most of the poets had never had their work translated into English.

Q: Was it difficult to translate the full meaning of the poems from Spanish to English?

A: “Difficult” isn’t the word. Translating poetry is not an easy task by any means; it is intricate and meticulous. Capturing images and the essence of the poem while being true to the poet is the most complex part of translation. Later translating the ideas to English complicates the matter even more. In fact, it is better that we translate together, because what one doesn’t catch, the other does and vice versa. We can discuss the meaning of a word for a long time. We leave it alone, we return, we read, we read again, we bargain, and we revise until we believe that we have been true to the meaning of the original poem in Spanish, and to what the poets would like to communicate in their verses. This process can take a long time. But when we have finished, we are happy, because we know we have done the best that we can do.

Q: How long did the project take?

A: This project began originally in our first sabbatical getting to know the poets. Beyond this, it has been a very lengthy process translating all of the original interviews with each poet, selecting which poems should be published and then translating these into English. All the poets were very cooperative and generous with their time and their work.

Q: A second volume has just been released, correct?

A: Yes, thanks to our most recent sabbatical, there is a second volume, More Andalusian Women Poets: The Artistry of Southern Spain. In the second volume, we have included Matilde Cabello, Araceli Franco, Carmen Guzmán, Inés María Guzmán, Isabel Pérez Montalban, Balbina Prior and Ana Patricia Santaella. Each are currently writing in Andalucía, Spain. The two volumes are similar in style. But each of the poets has her own style that reflects her particular characteristics making each poet, and of course her poetry, unique.

This feature appeared in the Winter 2018 UT Journal