instagram logo tumblr icon

Translator's Note

Abyss by Vlad Alvarez
February 01, 2018

Translator's Note

Regrow by Vlad Alvarez​Emötoma in Spanish sounds like something in between hemotoma and the cancer of emote; thus, I have translated it as (H)emötoma. Before my diagnosis of cancer, I had fallen in love with Minerva Reynosa's playful language and exuberance, so after my confrontation with cancer, (H)emötoma boosted my will to live. The surprising juxtapositions and sonorous drive reflected my conflict between euphony and cacophony. The amalgamated imagery told me a story but fragmented the narrative. The literary allusions both comforted me and challenged me. The dieresis in (H)emötoma is a mutation of a diaretic, as if the Spanish had become Germanized; the tugging between familiarity and foreignness permeated my existence. Reynosa's use of the verbivocovisual senses underscores synesthesia but innovates perception with this decolonizing method.

Mother by Vlad Alvarez

To be practical, I attended the translation workshop World to World, Mundo a Mundo, yet the essence of my translation comes from dialogue with Reynosa. For two years, I periodically visited Mexico to troubleshoot the translations. I read the neobarogue authors Reynosa recommended for transtextuality. In general, doubt compelled me to look up most expressions in dictionaries, and thesauruses help me match phonetic nuances. Nevertheless, I sometimes compensated by interpreting Latinate sound patterns and transforming them into Anglo-Saxon preferences. For example, I attempted to keep rhythm like the Spanish but used word lengths pleasing to the English language.

The collection herein comprises the climax of (H)emötoma. Through contrast the female speaker of the poetry undergoes what's "unforeseen" by design—the combination of repetition, cohesion, and variance adrenalizes the reader, or so I hope.



Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal

Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal lives as a rhyming-slogan creative activist. She is a Generation 1.5 poet (Mexicana and Chicana), a translator, a sonic-improv collaborator, and an instructor of English. She is a Ph.D. student in Creative Writing at University of Houston. Her M.F.A. in Writing is from California College of the Arts. She coauthored an article with a historian in the book Chicana Movidas (University of Texas, forthcoming). She has published translations of poetry, including Enigmas, by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Señal: a project of Libros Antena Books, BOMB, and Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015), but she mostly translates regiomontana poet Minerva Reynosa (Mandorla, 2012); their most recent publication is a chapbook called Photograms of My Conceptual Heart, Absolutely Blind (Cardboard House Press, 2016).


Vlad AlvarezVlad Alvarez was born and raised in El Salvador, Central America. In 1992, he came to the U.S. and lived in Los Angeles before moving to Pennsylvania. He attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and graduated in 2005 with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration.


Follow his Instagram and Facebook to keep up with his work.

North American Review
1200 West 23rd Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50613

Phone: 319-273-6455


instagram logo tumblr icon



Go to Online Store

Up to Top