Mestizo Skies (I)
transl. Madeleine Stratford

Mercado de la Peñita
for six pesos
we worm our way
into this colectivo
coughing up a cha-cha-cha

Palm trees float
in the midday fuel
babies giggle
snuggled up
in the arms of their mothers
and fathers
wedged between
battered old folks
all colours blending into one
the time it takes to kill
distance and words

Madeleine Stratford is a poet, a literary translator, and an associate professor at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. Her French translation of Ce qu’il faut dire a des fissures by Uruguayan poet Tatiana Oroño (Paris, L’Oreille du Loup, 2012) was awarded the 2013 John Glassco Prize by the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada. In 2017, Me Tall You Small, her English translation of Lilli L’Arronge’s Ich groβ, du klein (OwlKids Books, 2017), was shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize. Her translations have also been shortlisted three times for a Governor General award (2016, 2019, and 2021).


Ciels métissés (extrait)
Louise Desjardins

Mercado de la Peñita
pour six pesos
on s’enfourne
dans le colectivo
qui crache le cha-cha-cha

Les palmiers flottent
dans le fuel de midi
les bébés rigolent
dans les bras des mères
des pères
emboîtés entre les veilles
et les vieux bosselés
toutes couleurs unies
le temps d’anéantir
la distance et les mots

Louise Desjardins was born in the Abitibi region. Her writing career began in poetry, but soon came to include works of fiction and non-fiction, as well as literary translations. To date, Desjardins has signed a dozen poetry books, including La 2e Avenue (Noroît, 1991 and Hexagone, 1995), which was a Governor General Award finalist in 1995. Her first novel, La Love, (Leméac, 1993 and BQ, 2000) was awarded the Grand Prix du Journal de Montréal and the Prix des Arcades de Bologne. She has published several other novels since then, including So long (2005), Rapide-Danseur (2012), and, more recently, L’idole (2017), as well as a book of short stories, Cœurs braisés (2001), and a biography of Quebecois singer Pauline Julien, La vie à mort (1999). The translations presented here are from her last poetry book, Ciels métissés (2014).

Read Madeleine Stratford’s introduction to these translations.

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