Translator's notes

Music

By Fabián Casas

In a bookstore in downtown Manhattan, I opened an anthology of contemporary Argentinean poets to a poem about a Buenos Aires neighbourhood, small and intimate, before a summer thunderstorm: the Scardenellis’ dog, bent cigarettes, bad smells, voices of schmoozers on the avenue, plastic curtain strips dancing in the wind. I was struck by the poem’s dark humour – the first line in English is ‘I Know What We Did Last Summer’, the ‘what’ never explained. Compelled to read and then translate Casas, I discovered poems interested in the truth of being human in whatever complex, fragmented, isolated, hopeless state the human is found. Casas is an empathetic poet who, in language conversational and inquisitive, often brings his neighbourhood Boedo and boyhood friends and family to the present moment. Occupying a liminal space where the philosophical meets the quotidian, excavating epiphany in a casual tone, his is a voice one instinctively trusts. Journalist, essayist and novelist, Casas has said that the role of a writer is to make language shine.

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