Anthony Seidman translating Rodolfo Hinostroza

(fragment) from Hommage à Vasalery

O & beauty is love
          vers l’admission
                time is filled
with crystalline structures
element element element
as thus:--------------------------------------------
which permeates the things
I am moist
my pores sublimate delicate saltpeter crystals
within and without once again
it was not the vibration of the protoplasm
not a shapeless thing not a swamp
confused libraries yellowing beneath the sun
une autre jeunesse des choses
towards the inexhaustible shape that purifies inexhaustibly.

Origins of Sublimation

 Beauty = Yearning
of the lost paradise
the womb in which you experienced perfect silence
only the gurgle of warm and gooey liquids
gurgle of comets / peace and nourishment
a part of something
not the body’s solitude
the mystical harmony
the precise site of the clairvoyant before the universe


And the bird-bell says:
“During the ascension towards the perfect conjunction
things follow this order:
a) Opacity:
thing with shape or shapeless thing
not irradiation
faces in the Metropolitan Art Nouveau
vagueness of material
does not allow that bodies pass through it / does not present
b) The Definition:
                                             that which is termed as beautiful or ugly
with / without character
a mangy dog & sparkling white teeth,
where both co-exist and one explains the other
the bearded hangman, the
Cover Girl
scream / death
c) Ambiguity: 
  negative synthesis
things annulling other things and therein an unexpected sparkle
delicate nuance
immersed in Grand Guignol
inside & out
matter which is suspended yet
still comes and goes
and d) Grace:
unobtainable by will
illumination without choice
image which pauses the fluency of Time
a lightning-bolt strikes your forehead
evidence evidence!”
& that’s what the bird bell said
from a point in mid-air
where every labyrinth reveals itself and explains itself.


L’Utopie aussi:
a paradise lost proposes
a paradise anew 
thus Beauty = Mediation 
between the visible world and the possible world
/ anamnesia of the uterine world /
and thus the clairvoyant
 does not ossify
does not lose the absolute
he stands here
cf. the Bodhisattvas p.ex
in transparent meditation
& the still humility before the gathering
with your eyes you shall gaze upon it with your hands you shall touch it
and it will assume a shape
love makes visible the invisible
and makes invisible or visible
cf. Ariosto 
the fountain of youth
which doesn’t age.

Love’s Body

A body destroys the blind autonomy
d’un autre corp
it abandons
your body like the river or the sea
the art of seeing the world and living it
resides in the encounter
no fear of death
Oh abolition
the return of the mystical couple
  you were never one body
you were 2 before being born
from thence you saw the stations of the eclipse
one body only = terror of death
half of a face half of truth
2 orientate themselves towards the magnetic center of the Universe of Leibniz
they perceive the ecstasy the end of the era
in which death reigns over
beauty & life.


& the scream continues and the terror of being only one body
no world forthcoming
no perfect love perfect harmony
liberty in exchange
privation is infinite dix. Estagirita
endless search for what was lost
chucked into Time that fills itself
with incoherent things anguished fluency
but derrière la fin de la conscience
there’s a place of peace greater than peace
lake of the homecoming
    they began the light
legends myths emissions
which create and propose another life.


Cathars = pure
& the world was a prison
the solitude of the body, the powerful
      au bout de l’angoisse
among the need for destruction
shattered from the four sides
no way for the object no way for love
& someone adopted the fetal position
squatting arms crossed
hands half-closed
powerful veil warm placenta between him and the others
distant thrum of the stars revolving
imperfectly conjuring the superhuman terror
obscure poetry not assent the opacity
the bitter love’s mystery.


& thus the reverse of opacity
it both resembles and differs from
the sweet love’s mistery
the couple in their bed
celebrating Vatsyayana
  it was not love for one’s body nor for another’s
bliss exchanged
bite yum flesh of apple yum mouth another mouth
duality against death
mystical homecoming
a sole body in two   divine duality
the perfect couple
space responds to the movements
they create waves towards Pegasus & The Phoenix
Thou art & Thou art.

Translator’s Note

I discovered Hinostroza’s poetry by way of Medusaurio (1996), an anthology edited by Roberto Echavarren, José Kozer, and Jacobo Sefamí. The anthology was in the university stacks, and it was a major moment for me. The book can be likened to Cuesta’s Antología de la poesía mexicana moderna (1928) for its brilliant reassessments and rediscoveries, its shifting of canonical expectations, and, perhaps most importantly, for its heralding the importance of the Neo-Baroque in Latin American Poetry, with Hinostroza as one of the movement’s leading voices. I was enrolled in the bilingual MFA program at the University of Texas at El Paso, crossing on foot into El Paso every morning via the international bridge starting in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The Creative Writing department boasted a healthy amount of younger poets from Latin America, as well as Mexican and Latin American professors. Over beers at El Recreo or The Kentucky Club, younger poets like Paolo De Lima of Peru or Gaspar Orozco of Mexico spoke with perception and enthusiasm about the legendary Hinostroza, confirming my initial readings of this difficult yet electrifying vates. Just prior to my leaving Ciudad Juárez in 1999, UTEP professor Miguel Ángel Zapata published the anthology Nueva poesía latinoamericana (UNAM), and therein I discovered another selection of Hinostroza, revealing a celestial landscape: the logic of the stars melded with political commentary, poetry from antiquity, chemistry, collages of political propaganda, which Hinostroza critiqued and juxtaposed with lyrical passages celebrating Eros and unflinchingly defying Thanatos, and praising the transformative powers of the Verb. Hinostroza’s net of readings, concerns, and allusions was cast as wide as Pound’s or Zukofksy’s, but his aim was love and physical union as an escape from history’s labyrinth. Indeed, what set this poet apart from most of his contemporaries in the Anglo-Saxon world is that his Muse always reminded him to sing of love. Yes, Hinostroza can be “difficult,” but his poetry urges the reader along with the beauty of the lyre. In this, Hinostroza’s art faintly resembles the Octavio Paz of “Piedra de Sol,” a longish and demanding poem that nevertheless manages to inspire readers of diverse capacities, casting their gaze on the delights of coitus. (One of the poem’s most celebrated lines celebrating love was even served as the title of a Mexican pop group’s most popular album.) Hinostroza accompanies the reader, as his vast and arcane cosmography and lexicon rotate in corymbulous explosions. The reader who opens Contra natura touches no mere book, he touches a man, as well as an original poetry relating the world via the “logic of metaphor.”

Anthony Seidman’s most recent collection of poetry is A Sleepless Man Sits Up In Bed, released in 2016 by Eyewear Publishing. His book-length translations include Confetti-Ash: Selected Poems of Salvador Novo (The Bitter Oleander) and Smooth-Talking Dog (Phoneme Media), poems by Roberto Castillo Udiarte, a poet recognized as “the Godfather of Tijuana’s counterculture.”

Rodolfo Hinostroza (Peru, 1941-2016), was a celebrated poet. Hinostroza’s groundbreaking collection Contra natura (1971) won the 1972 Maldoror Prize for Poetry given in Barcelona with none other than Octavio Paz as the judge. At the time of his death, Hinostroza was singled out as the leading poet of his generation. His open sequences, mixed registers of language, interest in history, astronomy, literary history, politics etc., make for a demanding and brilliant poetry.