Translator's notes

L’uomo è mobile

By Laura Chalar

Laura Chalar’s poetry is like the paintings or the cities it portrays: alive. Stroke by stroke, line by line, these places come alive. ‘Venice’ for example is not just the canals or a postcard picture, Chalar’s ‘Venice’ has depth. It brings together different characters, a strong voice, Byron, and very personal notes. Her poems are always in dialogue with other texts, other forms of art, the past – the speaker’s and others’. In the final poem in this selection, Chalar engages with the fate of the soldier-poet Sir Philip Sidney, whose coat of arms bore the image of the porcupine.

Reading these poems and even more so translating them, I was carried to many places. I was translated into realities so full and powerful that they transcended the page and imagination. Translating her work involved crossing languages, travelling, being carried to experiences and carrying them into English. Like travellers who want to return to the beautiful places they have been, when reading Laura’s poems you want to go back to them, reread them, and maybe even stay there.

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