THE LADY OF ELCHE showcases an indispensable collection by acclaimed poet Amanda Berenguer, available for the first time with a complete English translation, alongside the Spanish poems, as well as a companion essay by Kristin Dykstra.
THE LADY OF ELCHE is Kristin Dykstra's translation of one of Amanda Berenguer,'s most acclaimed collections of poetry. The many faces surfacing through The Lady of Elche's portraits hint at Berenguer's multifaceted poetics writ large. Dazzling landscapes exhibit her characteristic curiosity about the world, merging past with present. Berenguer pointedly cycles her mythological navigations of the surface toward revelations of a counterforce: other knowledge percolating below. And so it is not only the ancient Iberian sculpture known as “La Dama de Elche” that she unearths. Berenguer descends in search of images silenced by the neofascist Uruguayan dictatorship of 1973-1985, whose exercises in annihilation and complicity still impact public life today. Presented here in its first bilingual edition, the 1987 book drips with prophecy still relevant to our own time.
“Amanda Berenguer’s poems from the 1980s collected under the title of The Lady of Elche are, like the unburied sculpture of the title, an enigma of identity, history, and memory constructed through shards of language cutting through time and space. The poetic voice emerges in Montevideo, in Spain, in the Grand Canyon, in New York, in search of self and connection. Berenguer’s images are as jarring and blunt as the ‘mandrake moon,’ which ‘stuck nightmares / and perversion into both sockets of my eyes,’ and as haunting and fluid as ‘an oscillating forest of submerged cadavers / feet shackled in cement cubes.’ Dykstra’s phenomenal translations are works of art themselves, poignantly rendering Berenguer’s shifting registers and movement through the far reaches of modernity into English-language poetry. The ‘nervous memory-fish’ of Berenguer’s challenge to the would-be censors of the Americas flit through the waters of our shared, violent history, emerging from its depths to demand a reckoning that is seemingly forever displaced.” —Juliet Lynd, scholar of Latin American literature and culture
“Amanda Berenguer presents the poet’s voyage as a vocable consumption, an entity of substrate lis-tening. Over the course of these pages, in a mounting inevitability of humanity, Berenguer posi-tions the embodied self as a new self—a ravenous becoming towards a breathless forage into the temporal, ‘a limitless birthing between silence and voice.’ Kristin Dykstra’s sensuous translation reveals an essential prophecy of ownership within witness and cadence. The Lady of Elche is a call for us to stop at each precipice as newborn deities, ‘spectra of light rays,’ to incorporate all we ex-perience into our language, more importantly, to realize that true revolution is inherent within those footsteps.” —Edwin Torres, author of Quanundrum: [i will be your many angled thing]
Poetry. Latin American Studies. Translation.
Janani Ambikapathy @ Poetry Foundation
Kristin Dykstra is a writer, literary translator, and scholar. Dykstra is principal translator of THE WINTER GARDEN PHOTOGRAPH (Ugly Duckling Presse), by Reina María Rodríguez, Winner of the 2020 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation and Finalist for the National Translation Award. With Kent Johnson she co-edited MATERIA PRIMA, a team-translated anthology featuring Berenguer (also from Ugly Duckling), Finalist for the 2020 Best Translated Book Award. Previously Dykstra translated collections by Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Flores, Marcelo Morales, Ángel Escobar, Tina Escaja, and others. Her poetry collection Dissonance: Its Ridgelines / Disonancia: Perfil de laderas, is forthcoming in a bilingual edition with translations by Escaja; excerpts appear in Lana Turner, Almost Island, Clade Song, Seedings, La Noria, El Nieuwe Ac´, Distropika, and Acrobata.
Amanda Berenguer (1921 - 2010) was a vital presence in Uruguayan literary life for more than six decades. Berenguer is the most multifaceted, restless poet of the "Generation of 1945," known around the world for its energetic experimentation. Her first book appeared in Montevideo in 1940, followed by a steady stream of collections recognized for their excellence. Among Berenguer's many awards are the Casa de las Américas Prize for Poetry (1986) and two national Uruguayan prizes for her collection La Dama de Elche. Her lifelong dedication to the arts included work with little presses and radio programming, as well as collaborations with dancers and musicians.