Mestizo Skies (III)
transl. Madeleine Stratford

Highway 117 goes on and on
I’m riding shotgun in a pickup truck
driving through the moon
in some podunk town

Tequila and limes
you will go far
mom used to say

I’m going nowhere
Quarter Moon in a Ten Cents Town
Emmylou Harris slips out of my grasp

I’m thirty
I’m already too old
love already hurts
you’re scratching my back
with the pick of your guitar

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

La route 117 n’en finit plus
et assise au fond du pick-up
je traverse la lune
dans une ville de rien

Téquila et citron vert
tu iras loin
disait maman

Je ne vais nulle part
Quarter Moon in a Ten Cents Town
Emmilou Harris me glisse des mains

J’ai trente ans
je suis trop vieille
l’amour fait mal déjà
tu m’égratignes les os
avec ton pic de guitare

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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