Poetry from El Salvador: Mauricio Orellana Suárez

Dec 15, 2013 Comments Off by

‘In El Salvador a literature now exists that proposes thematic diversity and new approaches to daily life, adding itself to the tradition of “emergency literature” which arose from the armed conflict,’ the Salvadorian writer Mauricio Orellana Suárez told me. ‘Although the structures that should give support to new creators hardly exist –I refer to specialised criticism, media interest in culture, editorials, the debate of ideas, and so on– vibrant and thriving production does take place. We can look forward to the emergence of new voices with fresh proposals, which will need visibility and attention.’

Orellana Suárez is one of the country’s most exciting literary voices. His Heterocity won the ‘Mario Monteforte Toledo’ Central American Novel Prize in 2011 for its depiction of LGBTI minorities in El Salvador. He has also published five other novels (Las mareas, La dama de los velos, Kazalcán, Ciudad de Alado and Te recuerdo que moriremos algún día). In addition, he has won several national prizes, and his work has appeared in anthologies in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Germany and Nicaragua.

Currently Orellana Suárez directs the literary magazine Cultura, published by El Salvador’s Ministry of Culture, and is editor and curator of the online magazines Entradas de emergencia and Heterocity. Between 2004 and 2005 he lived in London – first in New Malden, then studying English in Wimbledon and finally in Kingston upon Thames. The following is a translation of the last poem in his Postales del Támesis para un día lluvioso (‘Postcards of the Thames for a Rainy Day’).

– Jessica Sequeira

 

Mauricio Orellano 

Let us remember the luminosity of the crossing of our reciprocal gazes

Beneath skies we couldn’t give ourselves to, in the ruins of the Londinium’s ramparts

The benches that saw us eat, shivering with cold, in front of the Tate

Far from our own lands

the unhoped-for encounters that made us explode with laughter when we saw them

a smile the size of the London Eye on your lips

the radiators switched on at eleven at night

Diego’s one-night stands interrupting our sleep

Family wearing out the mobile phone at uncertain hours, misgauging time zones

Which at least gave us reason for another sleepless embrace

the crows that took care of us in the day

the cameras that monitored our furtive kisses in the streets

the surprise upon discovering a street stencil

at the exit of Bank Station

which listed the masses at the Prince of Wales

the communion between us as we drank our beers to the bottom

the visits to the £1 stores

when we dreamed of stuffing the larder with pasta

the bottled curries with which we worked miracles on the chicken

our expedition to hunt for yummy things in the Korean stores

the never-ending knack for losing banknotes at the laundry

the walks without maps

the contemplation of the bodhisatva at the Victoria and Albert Museum

the Thames making one’s eyes swim on Bonfire Night and the image

of Guy Fawkes’ torture

our lips covered with the gunpowder flavour of nocturnal parliaments

And let’s forget Diego’s bloody cirrhosis in the house bathroom

the anguish of Rose Mary at work, the roses she’d bring

the rows of zombies at the annual Harrods discount

the sensory confusion in the streets which nearly knocks one down

the heavy deductions taken when your overtime is paid out

my explosions of literary nostalgia

the nights they ate us alive

And above all

Let’s forget about things like the weather and about having said goodbye

I’ll see you when I see you

 

 

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