Enrique Solinas and Márgara Averbach

Nouha Gorani Homad

The following selections from two Argentinian authors, Márgara Averbach and Enrique Solinas, deal with loss. Since I know the two authors personally, their poems are that much more touching. I have felt their pain up close, and I have tried in these selections to convey the evocative quality of their poems.

Translating poetry has always been particularly challenging for me. I’m usually more comfortable with narrative.

For these selections, I was fortunate to have the authors themselves collaborate with me in the rendering of their works into another language. I had already collaborated with Márgara over the translation of her novel Una Cuadra [Grass between the Cobblestones] into English, which was a fascinating experience. With Enrique, this was the first time that I translate his work. Below, I have appended the back and forth about the poems, and the changes they suggested as the translation unfolded.

In 2008 I met Enrique Solinas in Buenos Aires. I was at the time visiting my daughter in Santiago de Chile and she had surprised me with a trip to Buenos Aires to revisit my old haunts. My daughter, Gida, and I met up with Jorge Paolantonio and Enrique for dinner in the Palermo neighbourhood to talk about Jorge’s Ceniza de orquídeas which I was in the process of translating for the New York City based publisher, Jorge Pinto Books. In conversation, Enrique told me he wrote poetry and gave me a copy of his poems. I found the poems hauntingly beautiful, very tender and gentle just like him. When Jorge died suddenly in July 2019, Enrique was devastated. The loss he had sustained was beyond words. The following poems are selections from his dedicatory to Jorge.

I first met Márgara in the summer of 1997. We were both visiting scholars at Santa-Barbara University, California. After a dinner at the beautiful home of one of hosts the programme, a home in the mountains around Santa-Barbara, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a guitar was produced. I offered to play a Zamba and asked Márgara if she would sing along with me. I suggested Luna tucumana. There were suddenly tears in Márgara’s eyes. She said she couldn’t possibly sing that zamba, it brought back painful memories of her father. We ended up singing Guitarrero, a less evocative song for her. In 2016, my daughter and I spend the day with Márgara and her family at their campo home in Ezeiza, near Buenos Aires. She told me that she had broken out of her habit of writing mostly prose. She was actually writing poetry now as well. Her collection of poems was very personal, mostly addressed to her ‘viejos’, her parents, her husband and her children, about loss and love. Several of those poems – three of which are translated here – are about her father.