Entropy named Ignacio Infante and Michael Leong’s new translation of a major Latin American avant-garde book-length poem by Vicente Huidobro one of the best poetry books of 2020–21. Huidobro’s poem was originally published in two different versions, first in a 1931 Spanish edition as Tremblor de cielo and then in a 1932 French edition as Tremblement de ciel.
Infante, associate professor of Spanish and comparative literature and associate director of the Center for the Humanities, and Leong, regular faculty in the School of Critical Studies and the California Institute of the Arts, represent the complicated publication history of this poem in Sky-Quake: Tremor of Heaven (co-im-press, 2020), a trilingual edition that includes the Spanish and French alongside a new English translation.
Infante reflects that translating a bilingual avant-garde poem into a trilingual edition was particularly challenging. “The original editions constitute two parallel poetic works contemporaneously produced in two different languages,” Infante noted. “As such, Temblor de cielo and Tremblement de ciel comprise together a larger artwork and a rather unique literary event, both historically and poetically. At the same time, Huidobro refashions the medieval legend of Tristan and Iseult, so that entails another form of translation that we had to account for as well.”
The author of over thirty books in French and Spanish, Huidobro is credited with playing a central role in the development of avant-garde poetry in Latin America and Europe. Yet, his works have historically been less available to English-speaking audiences.
“Most of his works have remained untranslated into English until recently, with the exception of Huidobro’s masterpiece Altazor, which was brilliantly translated by the prestigious U.S. translator and poet Eliot Weinberger a few decades ago,” Infante noted. “Huidobro is widely regarded as one of the most influential Chilean and Latin American poets of his generation and indeed as one of the most important poets of the 20th century.”
More information about Sky-Quake can be found at co-im-press’s website.