Category: Chile

Beatriz Hausner, Former President of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada, interviewed by David Garyan

Beatriz Hausner

Beatriz Hausner, Former President of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada, interviewed by David Garyan


Beatriz Hausner’s most recent collection of poems, Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
Read Beatriz Hausner’s “Enter the Racoon,” a prose poem published by Interlitq
Read Beatriz Hausner’s translation of four César Moro poems, published by Interlitq


DG: You’re both a poet and a translator of poetry—thus, I’m interested to know: Which art came first for you and how does one influence the other? It seems natural to assume that being a poet is an indispensable part of becoming a translator of verse, and, yet, many people who often produce good translations of novels, biographies, and other texts are neither novelists, biographers, and, in some rare cases, not even writers. Along with the first question, how is the translation of poetry different than that of prose and how have your own poetic sensibilities shaped that process?

BH: For me, initially, translation came first from interpreting between Spanish and English. It is a role familiar to most immigrant children. In my case, when my family immigrated to Canada from Chile, only my mother, Susana Wald, spoke English, and did so perfectly. Ludwig Zeller, my step-dad, found it difficult to learn English, partly, I sense, because he continued throughout his exile to be a Spanish language poet. There really was no part of his existence outside of Spanish. As a result, I often assumed the role of interpreter between spoken English and Spanish.

During those early years in Canada I became an interlocutor to Ludwig, so that parallel to my university studies in literature, I acquired a deep literary education at home. Ludwig was, like many of the authors I translated, and who serve as my models, incredibly broad-minded: there was nothing, it seems to me, that did not interest him in art and in literary expression. His knowledge of the Classics, Romanticism, the 20th Century Avantgarde, Latin American literature and art, was astonishing. I read everything he recommended and listened to him telling me about it.

Of course, the principal context was that of international surrealism. Our home was an important locus of surrealist artistic activity, with my parents organizing exhibitions and publications (through their press Oasis Publications) for and of their surrealist friends throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, a time of fervent activity in the movement. In fact, my first translations of Latin American surrealists were published through my parents’ press, Oasis Publications. So too was my early poetry.

I can safely say that my own bilingualism developed during those important formative years, when I became both a translator and a poet. I have no doubt that translation has provided me with the best poetic education possible.

Having translated both poetry and prose, I can say that the process differs according to the author of the original and, in the case of prose, the length of the work. I loved translating the early fiction of Alvaro Mutis (The Mansion, Victoria BC: Ekstasis Editions, 2005). He was a great stylist and the themes and moods he explored matched my sensibility. I felt the same about translating his poetry. I’ve translated the essays of Aldo Pellegrini, and some of Eugenio Granell’s fiction, but my focus in translation has been primarily poetry. The intensity and concentration of the diction, the way levels of meaning come through analogies and combinations of sounds, the use of images, these are all characteristic of the surrealist poets I’ve had the great fortune of translating.


DG: It’s been my experience that people to whom a certain literary legacy belongs are more inclined to believe in the untranslatability of their own national poets and writers, mainly to attach greater mystique and importance to them; at the same time, those looking in from the outside (foreigners eager to consume the riches of another culture) tend to believe exactly the opposite—that translation is not only just as effective but can also improve the original. On one hand, we have scholars like Mohammad-Reza Shafiei Kadkani, an Iranian writer, who wrote the essay “On Poetic Untranslatability,” in which he argues that translation is mostly about transferring culture, not linguistics. In other words, according to him, it’s not possible to really translate Hafiz into European languages because of the cultural differences that exist between where the work comes from and where it tries to “go.” On the other extreme, in a 1998 review article praising Robert Daglish’s translation of Quiet Flows the Don, the authors, Barry P. Scherr and Richard Sheldon, argue that readers looking to discover Sholokhov’s “original intentions” would actually fare better by reading the novel in translation, rather than in the original Russian, further stating that “in terms of textological issues, Daglish’s translation is arguably superior to any of the available Russian-language editions of the complete novel.” Where do you fall on this spectrum? Do you side more with Kadkani, or Scherr and Sheldon?

BH: I loathe all notions of nationality, or ownership of a literature. Rather, my sense is that translatability has to do with language and the patterns that give form to literary expression as it develops and changes through time and place in each language. Rhyme, formal constraints, devices such as meter for rendering musicality would certainly present different challenges when translating the sonnets of Francisco de Quevedo, than, say the poetry of César Vallejo. In both instances the cultural context absolutely informs the poetics, requiring that the translator of either Quevedo, or Vallejo have a broad understanding of both the cultural and literary contexts of the original and also that of the target language.

It’s interesting what you say about Daglish’s translation of Sholokhov’s novel. Dare I say that perhaps Scherr and Sheldon’s perception, that Sholokhov reads better in translation, is pure and simple a function of Daglish being a very good writer in his own right? I do think that translators are authors of their translations, so that their talent may determine the transcendence of their translations in the long run. In some cases, a translator’s work can have a profound effect on the trajectory of an entire literature.

A case I’ve written about in the past is that of Augusto D’Halmar’s translations of Oscar de Lubisz Milosz. Related by parentage to Czelaw Milocz (he was his uncle) Lubisz Milosz was of Lithuanian origin and is known as a French poet and mystic. His poetry extends the French Symbolist tradition. D’Halmar, a Chilean fiction writer was one of his many followers, and while living in Spain, made it his mission to visit Milosz in Fontainebleau. D’Halmar’s translations of Milosz’s Selected Poetry is extraordinary, no doubt because of his talent for staying within the inner spirit of the original, while assuming creative freedom to render the whole into Spanish in a way that made it almost a classic of Chilean poetry. D’Halmar’s translation was adopted as a kind of guide by two generations of Chilean poets: echoes of his poetry, direct borrowings from D’Halmar’s translation are evident in the poetry of Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, both of whom would go on to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.


DG: For many poets and writers, the inspiration to create seems to come out of nowhere; while some have romantic notions of “waiting” for the right moment, others seem to believe in consistency and routine—almost an exercise-like regiment designed for the brain when it encounters the desk. In either case, the spark comes sooner or later. Translation is a different thing, however; in other words, before inspiration even causes you to think of the perfect phrase or expression in the target language, you must first choose the person to translate. How does this happen for you? Is it a romantic experience of “waiting” to fall in love with an author or do you actively and methodically seek out the genius?

BH: Writing for me functions as a response to an inner force that drives creation. Over time I’ve come to accept that the best writing happens when, after a period of accumulation of sensations, material experiences, reading and studying, talking with others, something is triggered and the writing flows. Or not. In the past, when I was doing more translating, often of works commissioned by children’s publishers, I was working towards a deadline, in which case I could not wait for inspiration to take over. Until very recently, I’ve had to do my writing and translating on the side, while complying with the exigencies of a full-time day job as a public librarian. I worked in the evenings, or very early in the mornings. Mornings are definitely better. Regardless, the more time I have to delve into the universe that informs the writing I’m doing, the better. The process is the same where translation is concerned: I feel a need to immerse myself in the inner and outer contexts of the work I am translating.

For many years I put translation aside and devoted myself to my own writing. Part of the reason was a complete failure at finding publishers for the kind of work I enjoy translating. No presses in Canada were interested in publishing my translations of the Latin American surrealists. If they were, they simply could not find the resources to publish such work. I tried with U.S. publishers also, in vain. I believe this is part and parcel of the resistance, even rejection of surrealism, especially after the Second World War. Thankfully, this situation seems to be changing.


DG: Do you think all talented poets—if they master a second language—can become good translators, or is there some other magic ingredient? We’ve already talked about culture; in addition, knowing how to navigate the environment inside which your language is situated can be incredibly useful, but what, if anything, in your opinion, does an excellent translator with poetic sensibilities have that gifted poets alone do not? 

BH: Yes, I think all talented poets, who master a second language, can become good translators. The “magic ingredient” is a willingness on their part to surrender to the voice[s] of the author of the original. Also, they need to have a sufficient generosity of spirit to spend the time and energy that translating someone else’s work requires. This is time which cannot be spent on one’s own writing, after all.

My sense is that a gifted translator must possess the same confidence as an author of “original” works. In other words, a gifted translator must be willing to embrace the spirit of the original and act as a creative conduit for the original’s inner reality, while always making sure to remain loyal to the original. It’s a terribly difficult balance, which must be achieved.


DG: We’ve talked about untranslatability and it seems that a focus on aesthetics might be a good compliment to this discussion. What I’ve noticed is that the poetry world has unfortunately managed to divide itself along two lines: Experimental poets, often so difficult that they’re only read by other poets or academics, and those who espouse clarity above all (the lyricists as scholars know them); the argument is always that the former is ruining poetry with their pretentiousness while the latter is simply too easy—prime for Instagram feeds, in other words. Again, we have two extremes, and, once more, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. As a Surrealist poet fond of Rimbaud and Vallejo (not easy poets, by any stretch), for example, how do you align yourself with regard to this issue?

BH: Like Benjamin Péret said “Je ne mange pas de ce pain là.” The stupidity of dividing poets into two camps is beyond comprehension. I reject all limitations. In fact, poetry is the opposite of limitation. Poetry equals freedom; poetry is a vehicle for the transformation of the world. Perpetuating this divide (“experimental” versus “lyrical” poets) is a convenient way of dividing the meager resources that exist for the publishing and promotion of poetry. In other words, the divide is a political construct; it has nothing to do with poetry.


DG: People often ask what it means to be a poet: Is it a condition or a profession? The idealist wants to see it as the former, while the MFA chair, for example, prefers it to be the case of the latter. How do you see the issue? Are people born with the poetry “gene” or can anyone pick up the pen and choose this thing as a career—and to make it even more complicated, what about translation? In either case, language is never something we’re born with—it’s always something we “learn,” and yet, the translator, if he or she is to become one, must either learn, unlike the poet, at least more than one tongue, or have the good fortune to be born into a multilingual society for us to answer this question. How do you see it?

BH: I am of the opinion that artists, whatever their creative medium, should be able to live from their art. Insofar as being a professional is defined as making a living from what one practices, then every poet and every translator should be a “professional!” Being reduced to making a living at something other than one’s artistic calling is society’s way of oppressing the imagination.


DG: What advice would you give young poets or translators who are just starting to develop their skills?

BH: I would advise young poets starting out to learn the classics in the language they write in, at the very least. I would advise that they become educated in literature, that they read literature in translation, so that their world is broadened from an early time. I would advise that they experience the world intensely, that they listen to music, that they try as many ways of writing as they can. I would advise that they organize readings and events with others and for others, so that they get to form communities of writers. To translators I would say start off by translating the most important, the BEST writers of the original literature.


DG: What are you currently working on and how do you prefer to work? Do you focus on both your own poetry and translation at the same time, or do you tend to focus on them separately?

BH: Last winter I finished two poetry books I had been working on for several years. Otherwise I tend to work on several projects concurrently, with a natural cross-pollination seeming to characterize this stage of the process. Over time distinct manuscripts appear. That is not the case with translation, which requires a kind of concentration and focus that eschews a freewheeling mind.  I’m currently finishing the translation of a Selected Poems of César Moro.


About Beatriz Hausner

Beatriz Hausner has published several poetry collections, including The Wardrobe Mistress, Sew Him Up, Enter the Raccoon, and most recently, Beloved Revolutionary SweetheartSelected poems and chapbooks of hers have been published internationally and translated into several languages. Hausner is a respected historian and translator of Latin American Surrealism, with recent essays published in The International Encyclopedia of Surrealism in 2019. Her translations of César Moro, the poets of Mandrágora, as well as essays and fiction by legends like Aldo Pellegrini and Eugenio Granell have exerted an important influence on her work. Hausner’s history of advocacy in Canadian literary culture is also well known: she has worked as a literary programmer in Toronto, her hometown, and was Chair of the Public Lending Right Commission. She is currently President of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada, a position she held twice before.

“¿Qué queremos?” Por un cambio de constitución para Chile [*], por Lic. Juan José Scorzelli



“No podemos solucionar nuestros problemas con las mismas líneas

de pensamiento que usamos cuando los creamos” A. Einstein

En la ciencia hay cortes epistemológicos, cambios de paradigma, donde el mundo que conocíamos cambia, y cambia porque lo pensamos de otra manera. Nuevas ideas en el pueblo chileno impulsaron las revueltas contra un paradigma ya acabado, el paradigma dictatorial, el antiguo régimen pinochetista. Hubo uno que gobernó toda la región, el de los  golpes de estado, que sigue vivo hasta ahora, aunque se disfrace de lawfare: la imposición, en última instancia,  de un modelo económico capitalista neoliberal, a través de la judicialización de la política.

Elaborar una nueva Constitución es también pensar con qué modelo se va hacia ello. En general, no hemos podido salir de la concepción cartesiana de la realidad (partes extras partes de la res extensa), allí donde solo podemos pensar al sujeto como individuo separado del otro, en una articulación de vecindad, pero también de choque. La ciencia ha dado un paso, pudiendo pensar mediante la dualidad onda-partícula, que la materia no solo funciona como corpúsculo, sino también como onda que se entremezcla. El modelo newtoniano seguirá sirviendo para algunas realidades del espacio tridimensional pero no para pensar realidades más complejas.

Chile no está solo, no es un corpúsculo, sino que está mezclado, entremezclado indiscerniblemente con toda la realidad latinoamericana y la del mundo, por ello, no es posible pensar Chile sin Latinoamérica. El espíritu de lo nuevo, que nunca es absoluto, sino que se basa en mucho de lo ya realizado, tendrá que pensar al sujeto y especialmente al sujeto país, si pudiéramos decirlo así, de una nueva forma, una forma no individualista, una forma ‘inmixturada de Otredad’ (1) de un Otro que alberga, por ejemplo, las históricas luchas emancipatorias latinoamericanas. Una Constitución que pueda ser base, fundamento de otras por venir.

Nuestra concepción de la realidad basada a veces en un realismo ingenuo, supuestamente dependiente de los hechos, no es más que una ilusión inductivista que tapona, sutura, que en el principio está la idea, y es  en esas ideas, donde puede filtrarse -si no tenemos claro el modelo que las rige- lo que empañará todo tipo de concepción aparentemente novedosa volviéndola ‘más de lo mismo’. El aristotelismo reinante, donde primero está la física y luego la metafísica, podría extraviar nuestra posición certera a la hora de redactar, como es el caso, una nueva Carta Magna. Es la idea del sujeto, que no abandona su amarre en el individualismo más feroz, lo que porta un peligro para toda novedad que se inaugure. Ni el sol gira alrededor de la tierra, ni la tierra alrededor del sol en el centro, es la elipsis de Kepler la novedad, donde en el centro no hay nada. Dejar vacío el centro deja lugar para una dialéctica que no gira alrededor de nada en particular, sino que todos sus elementos, articulados en bucles con otros, no valen nada en sí mismos, sino por los demás.

La filosofía que sostiene a una dictadura es cerrada, absoluta, parmenídea, las cosas ‘son como son’; es conservadora y siempre mira al pasado. Lo nuevo no se ata al pasado, no lo mantiene más de lo necesario, y busca la invención, el porvenir, la creación. Concebir un sujeto nuevo para la nueva Constitución, es pensarlo formal, abstracto, fuera de la biopolítica, de las esencias, del racismo que dice qué es lo humano y qué no. Finalmente, el problema del ser. El sujeto así concebido, efecto del lenguaje y del deseo del Otro, sitúa sus coordenadas en un contexto histórico y cultural determinado y no como un ser único, individual, desamarrado de toda Otredad.

¡Viva Chile! Lo mejor para su Constitución, que será también la Constitución de todos. Ojalá! Así lo deseamos.

Lic. Juan José Scorzelli



*Texto presentado en ocasión de la invitación a participar del Proyecto Arde.Chile 2 (Escritores de Chile en Acción, liderado por el escritor y poeta chileno Tamym Maulén), para ser incluido en el “Gran libro colectivo” que será entregado “a cada uno de los 155 constituyentes que serán electos los días 15 y 16 de mayo”, convocados para la redacción de una nueva Constitución.

1.Expresión utilizada por Alfredo Eidelsztein con relación al título de la  Conferencia de Baltimore (1966), “Of Structure as an Immixing of an Otherness Prerequisite to Any Subject Whatever”, presentada por Jacques Lacan en 1966.



Lic. Juan José Scorzelli


Miembro de APOLa Internacional (Apertura para Otro Lacan)

Fundador de la Asociación de Psicoanálisis S. Freud en Paraguay.

Ex Adherente de la Escuela de Orientación Lacaniana de Argentina (EOL).

Coordinador de Grupos de Estudio sobre psicoanálisis en Buenos Aires y en Asunción del Paraguay.



Ode to the Tomato, a translation by Paul Scott Derrick of Pablo Neruda’s “Oda al tomate”


Pablo Neruda

from Elemental Odes, 1954


Ode to the Tomato


The street

was filled with tomatoes,



the light

splits apart

like the halves

of a tomato,

the juice

runs out

into the streets.

In December

the tomato

comes loose,

it invades


it gets in through lunches,

it sits down


on sideboards,

in among the glasses,

the butter-dishes,

the blue salt-shakers.

It has

an inner light,

a benign


We must, unfortunately,

kill it:

the knife


into the living pulp,

in a visceral


a fresh,




fills the salads

of Chile,

joyfully it marries

the clear-skinned onion,

and, in celebration,

we cast

upon its partly-opened spheres

a sprinkling of


essential child

of the olive,

the pepper


its fragrance,

the salt

its magnetic charm:

these are the weddings

of the day,

the parsley


its banners,


bubble and boil,

the roast beef


against the door

with its smell,

it’s time!

let’s go!

and, on

the table, in the circle

of summer,

the tomato,

orb of the earth,


and various



its convolutions,

its canals,

illustrious plenitude

and abundance,

without a bone

or a shell,

without a scale or a spine,

it makes us

a gift

of its fiery red

and the total sum of its freshness.



from Odas Elementales, 1954


Oda al tomate


La calle

se llenó de tomates,



la luz se parte

en dos


de tomate,


por las calles

el jugo.

En diciembre

se desata

el tomate,


las cocinas,

entra por los almuerzos,

se sienta


en los aparadores,

entre los vasos,

las mantequilleras,

los saleros azules.


luz propia,

majestad benigna.

Debemos, por desgracia,


se hunde

el cuchillo

en su pulpa viviente,

en una roja


un sol




llena las ensaladas

de Chile,

se casa alegremente

con la clara cebolla,

y para celebrarlo

se deja




esencial del olivo,

entre sus hemisferios entreabiertos,


la pimienta

su fragancia,

la sal su magnetismo:

son las bodas

del día, el perejil



las papas

hierven vigorosamente,

el asado


con su aroma

en la puerta,

es hora!


y sobre

la mesa en la cintura

del verano,

el tomate,

astro de tierra,



y fecunda,

nos muestra

sus circunvoluciones,

sus canales,

la insigne plenitud

y la abundancia

sin hueso,

sin coraza,

sin escamas ne espinas,

nos entrega

el regalo

de su color fogoso

y la totalidad de su frescura.



About Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). Pablo Neruda, whose real name is Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, was born on 12 July, 1904, in the town of Parral in Chile. His father was a railway employee and his mother, who died shortly after his birth, a teacher. Some years later his father, who had then moved to the town of Temuco, remarried doña Trinidad Candia Malverde. The poet spent his childhood and youth in Temuco, where he also got to know Gabriela Mistral, head of the girls’ secondary school, who took a liking to him. At the early age of thirteen he began to contribute some articles to the daily “La Mañana”, among them, Entusiasmo y Perseverancia – his first publication – and his first poem. In 1920, he became a contributor to the literary journal “Selva Austral” under the pen name of Pablo Neruda, which he adopted in memory of the Czechoslovak poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891). Some of the poems Neruda wrote at that time are to be found in his first published book: Crepusculario (1923). The following year saw the publication of Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada, one of his best-known and most translated works. Alongside his literary activities, Neruda studied French and pedagogy at the University of Chile in Santiago.

Between 1927 and 1935, the government put him in charge of a number of honorary consulships, which took him to Burma, Ceylon, Java, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Madrid. His poetic production during that difficult period included, among other works, the collection of esoteric surrealistic poems, Residencia en la tierra (1933), which marked his literary breakthrough.

The Spanish Civil War and the murder of García Lorca, whom Neruda knew, affected him strongly and made him join the Republican movement, first in Spain, and later in France, where he started working on his collection of poems España en el Corazón (1937). The same year he returned to his native country, to which he had been recalled, and his poetry during the following period was characterised by an orientation towards political and social matters. España en el Corazón had a great impact by virtue of its being printed in the middle of the front during the civil war.

In 1939, Neruda was appointed consul for the Spanish emigration, residing in Paris, and, shortly afterwards, Consul General in Mexico, where he rewrote his Canto General de Chile, transforming it into an epic poem about the whole South American continent, its nature, its people and its historical destiny. This work, entitled Canto General, was published in Mexico 1950, and also underground in Chile. It consists of approximately 250 poems brought together into fifteen literary cycles and constitutes the central part of Neruda’s production. Shortly after its publication, Canto General was translated into some ten languages. Nearly all these poems were created in a difficult situation, when Neruda was living abroad.

In 1943, Neruda returned to Chile, and in 1945 he was elected senator of the Republic, also joining the Communist Party of Chile. Due to his protests against President González Videla’s repressive policy against striking miners in 1947, he had to live underground in his own country for two years until he managed to leave in 1949. After living in different European countries he returned home in 1952. A great deal of what he published during that period bears the stamp of his political activities; one example is Las Uvas y el Viento (1954), which can be regarded as the diary of Neruda’s exile. In Odas elementales (1954- 1959) his message is expanded into a more extensive description of the world, where the objects of the hymns – things, events and relations – are duly presented in alphabetic form.

Neruda’s production is exceptionally extensive. For example, his Obras Completas, constantly republished, comprised 459 pages in 1951; in 1962 the number of pages was 1,925, and in 1968 it amounted to 3,237, in two volumes. Among his works of the last few years can be mentioned Cien sonetos de amor (1959), which includes poems dedicated to his wife Matilde Urrutia, Memorial de Isla Negra, a poetic work of an autobiographic character in five volumes, published on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, Arte de pajáros (1966), La Barcarola (1967), the play Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (1967), Las manos del día (1968), Fin del mundo (1969), Las piedras del cielo (1970), and La espada encendida.



About Paul Scott Derrick: Paul Scott Derrick is a Senior Lecturer of American literature at the University of Valencia, Spain. His main field of interest is Romanticism and American Transcendentalism and their manifestations in the art and thought of the 20th and 21st centuries. His critical works include: Thinking for a Change: Gravity’s Rainbow and Symptoms of the Paradigm Shift in Occidental Culture (1994) and “We stand before the secret of the world”: Traces along the Pathway of American Romanticism (2003). He has co-edited several critical studies, including: Modernism Revisited: Transgressing Boundaries and Strategies of Renewal in American Poetry, with Viorica Patea (Rodopi, 2007); and with Norman Jope and Catherine E. Byfield, The Salt Companion to Richard Berengarten (Salt Publishing, 2011). As a translator, he has published bilingual English-Spanish editions of a number of works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Adams and Emily Dickinson and has co-authoredand co-translated, with Juan López Gavilán, a critical Spanish edition of Sarah Orne Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs [La tierra de los abetos puntiagudos] (2008). He has also published translations into English of poems by Jorge de Montemayor, Luis Cernuda, Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges. He is coordinating a critical study and translation into Spanish of Emily Dickinson’s fascicles and is currently preparing, with Miguel Teruel, a Spanish version of Richard Berengarten’s Black Light.