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TRANSLATIONS

 

Flying Blind

Flying Blind
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Guntars Godiņš. Translated from Latvian by Eugene O'Connell.

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Guntars Godiņš' wry tragic-comic poems report from the borderlands; his relentless meditations on the human condition mirror the geographic location of a country on the edge of the Arctic waste, on the borders of an old, crumbling empire. Eschewing the usual solace of faith and fatherland, his poems spiral down into the dark places of the human pysche, exploring the reality behind our accepted notions.

 

Selected Poems from Flying Blind

 

One Road

 

The road lost in itself

Finds its way in the traveller

It carries on its back, his needs

In a bag threaded through a stick.

Trusting in the path he has chosen:

The way a river flows in the bed

Worn out by itself over the ages,

The way winds blow from whatever

Troughs source them in the seas,

The way the hands of a believer

Come together to pray.

 

 

 

__________

 

Painting

 

Living, we can

Not be painted.

 

Can only live

In this Painting and marvel.

 

At people in the Paintings

We look at.

 

Who might in fact

Be painting us.

 

__________

 

Cha Cha

 

When I was at my most beautiful

Our street in Riga was shelled,

A hole in the roof let the Arctic in,

I was numb when I wanted

An ermine wrap to warm me.

 

When I was at my most beautiful

My soldier had a smart coat

With a gold pocket I put chocolate

In for the front, he should have

Warmed for me in his mouth.

 

When I was at my most beautiful

A punched tag arrived in the post

With his name and birth date,

His body weighed on my shoulders

Instead of turning in my hands.

Copyright ©2005 Guntars Godiņš

English translation Copyright ©2005 Eugene O'Connell

 

 

 

Guntars Godins

 

Guntars Godiņš was born in 1958. He studied Latvian literature and language at the University of Latvia and completed advanced studies in Finnish literature and culture at Helsinki University. His four poetry collections include Tas Nepasacitais (That Left Unsaid), Ar Atakalejosu Datumu (Dated Retrospectively), Enu Nesejs (Shadow Bearer) and Nakts Saule (Nocturnal Sun). One of the last of a group of dissident poets, before independence from the Soviet Union in 1992, he was heavily censored by the Soviet authorities for his biting anti-government irony.

 

His eclectic career includes work as a broadcaster of folk music and song on Latvian radio and a period as editor of the popular magazine Avois (The Well). He is cultural attaché at the Latvian embassy in Estonia.

 

 

Eugene O'Connell

 

 

Eugene O’Connell was born near Kiskeam in northwest Cork in 1951. He has published a number of chapbooks, one full collection of poems One Clear Call (Bradshaw Books 2003) and one book of translations, Flying Blind (Southword Editions), which was volume 12 of the Cork European City of Culture Translation Series. Diviner, a new collection of his poems, was published by Three Spires Press in 2009. He is editor of The Cork Literary Review.

 

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