Peter Bruveris, I. K.

translated from the Latvian by Inara Cedrins


And days lived out are our clay,
and sleepless nights – our salt; to the window
where cloud shadow just crossed, bends
a branch of lilac that bloomed this morning, like a joke
one more spring has arrived, lengthening
the distance from Being to the North Pole
or: from a cherry pit this side of the garden gate
to the whistling thrushes on the edge of sunset, that side;

you approach, holding a cornet of wild strawberries in your hands,
you approach, carrying violet mist upon your shoulders,
you approach, the world’s reflection at the ends of your eyelashes,

your steps in soft moss are unheard,
your dreamy fish float in rivers,
and from a pipe of apple wood rising smoke
joins two impossibilities in the skies;

just then the Potter puts a lump of clay on the wheel
and fingers spin out another dish
in which night can gather salty dew;

you leave through the clearing, through violet mist,
and shrivelled hemp and raspberry canes surround you
like awaiting falling stars.


Un nodzīvotās dienas ir mūsu māls,
un bezmiega naktis – mūsu sāls; logā
kuŗ tikko sķērsoja mākoņa ēna, ieliecas
šorīt uzplaucis ceriņa zars, it kā pa jokam
pienācis vēl viens pavasars, pagarinot
attālumu no Esmes līdz Ziemeļpolam
jeb: no ķiršu kauliņa šaipus dāarza vārtiņiem
līdz strazda svilpienam saulrieta pusē, taipus;

tu tuvojies, turot rokās meža zemeņu turzu,
tu tuvojies, turot uz pleciem dūmaku mēļu,
tu tuvojies, turot skropstgalos pasaules atspīdumu,

tavi soļi mīkstajās sūnas ir nedzirdami,
upēs peld tavi sapņainie sami
un no ābeļkoka pīpes kāpjošie dūmi
debesu jumā savieno divas neiespējamības;

tikām Podnieks uzliek uz ripas māla piku,
un pirksti izvirpo vēl vienu trauku,
kuŗā naktij krāt sāļu rasu:

tu aizej pa izcirtumu, pa dūmaku mēļu,
un kaltušās vēja kaņepes un avenāji tev apkārt
kā krītošās zvaigznes gaidoši nāvenāji.

• • •

Peters Bruveris was born in Riga in 1957, and after graduating from the Department of Art and Culture at the Latvian State Conservatory worked as a literary consultant to the newspaper Latvijas Jaunatne (Latvian Youth) and as the director of the literary department of the newspaper Literatura un Maksla (Art and Literature). Nine collections of his poetry have been published: Black Thrush, Red Cherries (1987), Amber Skulls (1991), Sitting On A Park Bench (1994), Black Bird’s Nest in the Heart (1995), Flowers for Losers! (1999), Love Me God (2000), The Landscape of Language (2004), No One Answers Me (2005), and Behind Glass (2006). He has also written four books for children. Brūveris wrote the song lyrics for the popular play “Šveiks,” and wrote the texts for the animation film “Unusual Citizens of Riga” (2001). He translated and edited a collection of Turkish poetry entitled “Courtyards Filled with Pigeons” (1988, together with Uldis Bērziņš), translated the works of Lithuanian poets Kornelijs Platelis, Sigits Gedas, Henriks Raudausks, Toms Venclova, as well as many other works of poetry, and has translated poetry and prose from Azerbaijani, the Crimean Tatar language, Russian, Germany, and Prussian. His poetry has been published in Lithuanian, Russian, Swedish and English translation. He has received the Klāvs Elsbergs Award (1987), the Publisher Preses Nams Award in Literature in 2000 and 2001, the Days of Poetry Prize in 2001 and 2005, and the Award in Literature from the Baltic Assembly in 2004.

Inara Cedrins received her B.A. in Writing from Columbia College in Chicago and her M.A. in Arts Administration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

She is multiculturally oriented: of Latvian descent, she translates poetry and prose from the Latvian into English. Her anthology of contemporary Latvian poetry written while Latvia was under Soviet occupation was published by the University of Iowa Press, and she is currently working on a new Baltic anthology. She relocated to New York in 1996 and participated in poetry workshops there as well as working on a series of oil on canvas paintings depicting Manhattan’s embellished edifices. She is now working on the Dolce Vita series, centered in Italy but including other European cities.

Inara went to the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing in 1998 to study traditional Chinese ink painting on silk, remaining five years to teach at universities including Tsinghua University and Peking University, as well as to the People's Liberation Army and students at the Central Academy of Fine Art, designing the courses and using poetry as a vehicle. Two collections of her poetry were published bilingually by the Foreign Literature Press in Beijing. In 2002-03 she lectured on art and taught in Guangzhou (Canton).

In 2003 she went to Nepal to study the technique of thangka painting; wrote a book on Symbols and Gods of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal for Pilgrims Press and coordinated the illustrations by a Tibetan thangka painter and a Newari artist. After the king’s coup d’etat, she relocated to Riga, where she started a literary agency called The Baltic Edge and taught Creative Writing at the University of Latvia. She currently lives in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area.

• • •

[Calque will be periodically featuring new translations of poetry or short prose. These translations will run on the front page for a week. The feature will then be given a permanent link in the translators page. To submit single pieces for online publication, email us.]

Nicanor Parra, from “The Preaching and Sermons of the Christ of Elqui”

translated from the Spanish by Brandon Holmquest

from The Preaching and Sermons of the Christ of Elqui

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in person!
Who after 1,977 years of religious silence!
Has graciously agreed!
To attend our gigantic Holy Week program!
To delight young and old!
With his with his wise and quick-witted witty wisdom!
O.L.J.C. needs no introduction!
He’s known all over the world!
It’s enough to mention his Glorious-Death-On-The-Cross!
Followed by his Resurrection! which was no less spectacular!
So how ‘bout a big hand for O.L.J.C.!!!!!!!


- Thanks for that applause
nevermind that it’s not for me
i’m ignorant but i’m no idiot
there are some speakers
who outdo themselves
to scare up some cheap applause
but i forgive them
since it’s just innocent fun
though they don’t have to be that way
seriousness is better than jokes
especially when you talk about the Gospel
if they laugh at me that’s just perfect
it wouldn’t be the first time
but not at O.L.J.C.
the public has the final say



Despite the fact i came prepared
really i don’t know where to start
i’ll start by taking off my glasses
don’t think that this beard is fake
22 years i haven’t cut it
my nails either
in keeping with the vow i made
long after it ended
since the promise was only for twenty
i haven’t cut my beard or my nails
just my toenails
in honor of my sainted mother
for this i’ve had to put up with
humilitations slander contempt
being that i never bothered nobody
only kept the sacred promise
i made when she died
not to cut my beard or my nails
for a space of twenty years
in honor of her sacred memory
to give up normal clothes
and replace them with a humble sack
now i can tell my secret
my penance being done
soon you’ll see me
newly dressed in normal clothes.


Don’t let them say that i’m a bum
who don’t know how i’ve lived
these twenty years my promise lasted
turning to the north and south of this country
and neighboring countries too
preaching my healthy thoughts
for the benefit of Humankind
though people called me crazy
hundreds of gatherings in jails and hospitals
in old folk’s homes
in Mutual Aid Societies
i wasn’t born to glorify myself
i was born to help my fellow humans
especially those with suffering souls
without caring about class distinctions
those with deadly diseases
or those with no one to turn to
and i never took a cent for it
it’s been a never-ending story
humiliations, mockery, belly laughs
to see me dressed in my humble sack
weeks months years and leap years
that i had no place to sleep
nobody wanted to give me shelter
i made enough money
selling my modest little books
(i have to date published 18)
more than enough to pay for a hotel
but nevertheless they turned me away
on one pretext or another
though i paid double or triple the price
if it wasn’t for the Chilean Police
i don’t know what i would have done.

• • •

deSermones y prédicas del Cristo de Elqui” (Santiago, Ganymedes, 1979)

Nuestro Señor Jesucristo en persona
que después de 1977 años de religioso silencio
ha accedido gentilmente
a concurrir a nuestro programa gigante de Semana Santa
para hacer las delicias de grandes y chicos
con sus ocurrencias sabias y oportunas
N. S. J. no necesita presentación
es conocido en el mundo entero
baste recordar su gloriosa muerte en la cruz
seguida de una resurrección no menos
un aplauso para N. S. J.

- Gracias por los aplausos
a pesar de que no son para mí
soy ignorante pero no cretino
hay algunos señores locutores
que se suelen pasar de la raya
por arrancar un aplauso barato
pero yo los perdono
por tratarse de bromas inocentes
aunque no debería ser así
la seriedad es superior a la chunga
sobre todo tratándose del evangelio
que se rían de mí perfectamente
ésta no sería la primera vez
pero no de N. S. J.
el respetable público dirá.



A pesar de que vengo preparado
realmente no sé por dónde empezar
empezaré sacándome las gafas
esta barba no crean que es postiza
22 años que no me la corto
como tampoco me corto las uñas
o sea que cumplí la palabra empeñada
más allá de la fecha convenida
puesto que la manda fue sólo por veinte
no me he cortado barba ni uñas
solamente las uñas de los pies
en honor a mi madre idolatrada
pero por las que tuve que pasar
humillaciones calumnias desprecios
siendo que yo no molestaba a nadie
sólo cumplía la sagrada promesa
que hice cuando ella murió
no cortarme la barba ni las uñas
por un lapso de veinte años
en homenaje a su sagrada memoria
renunciar a la vestimenta común
y reemplazarla por un humilde sayal
ahora les revelaré mi secreto
la penitencia ya se cumplió
pronto me podrán ver
nuevamente vestido de civil.


No se diga que soy un pordiosero
quién no sabe cómo me he ganado la vida
en estos 20 años que duró mi promesa
giras al sur y norte del país
como también a los países limítrofes
predicando mis sanos pensamientos
en beneficio de la Humanidad
aunque los cuerdos me tildaran de loco
cientos de conferencias en cárceles y hospitales
en Asilos de Ancianos
en Sociedades de Socorros Mutuos
Yo no nací para glorificarme a mí mismo
nací para ayudar a mis semejantes
en especial a las almas en pena
sin distinción de clases sociales
ya se trate de enfermos desahuciados
o de personas de escasos recursos
sin aceptar jamás una limosna
ha sido un cuento de nunca acabar
humillaciones burlas risotadas
al verme vestido con un humilde sayal
hubo semanas meses años bisiestos
que no encontraba donde dormir
nadie quería darme alojamiento
yo ganaba bastante dinero
con la venta de mis modestos libritos
(hasta la fecha llevo publicados 18)
más que suficiente para pagar un hotel
y sin embargo se me rechazaba
so pretexto de esto o de lo otro
aunque pagara el doble o el triple de la tarifa
A no mediar el Cuerpo de Carabineros de Chile
yo no sé qué hubiera sido de mí.

• • •

Nicanor Parra, the great Antipoet of Chile, is on record saying that he thinks "faithful" or "literal" translation is impossible. He has repeatedly encouraged his translators to do whatever the hell they want in order to bring the sense of his work across. In this spirit, I have been very loose with the exact meaning of his words, trying instead to give the English reader a sense of Parra's irreverence and sarcasm, as well as his serious humanism. "Christ of Elqui" is one of Parra's great works. Presented here are a few sections from the poem's beginning. Further explanation seems unnecessary.

Brandon Holmquest edits this journal.

• • •

[Calque will be periodically featuring new translations of poetry or short prose. These translations will run on the front page for a week. The feature will then be given a permanent link in the translators page. To submit single pieces for online publication, email us.]

Paul Valéry, "Les vaines danseuses"

translated from the French as "The Vain Dancers" by Christopher Mulrooney

Les vaines danseuses

Celles qui sont des fleurs légères sont venues,
Figurines d’or et beautés toutes menues
Où s’irise une faible lune... Les voici
Mélodieuses fuir dans le bois éclairci.
De mauves et d’iris et de nocturnes roses
Sont les grâces de nuit sous leurs danses écloses.
Que de parfums voilés dispensent leurs doigts d’or!
Mais l’azur doux s’effeuille en ce bocage mort
Et de l’eau mince luit à peine, reposée
Comme un pâle trésor d'une antique rosée
D’où le silence en fleur monte... Encor les voici
Mélodieuses fuir dans le bois éclairci.
Aux calices aimés leurs mains sont gracieuses;
Un peu de lune dort sur leurs lèvres pieuses
Et leurs bras merveilleux aux gestes endormis
Aiment à dénouer sous les myrtes amis
Leurs liens fauves et leurs caresses... Mais certaines,
Moins captives du rythme et des harpes lointaines,
S’en vont d'un pas subtil au lac enseveli
Boire des lys l’eau frêle où dort le pur oubli.

The Vain Dancers

They who are lightsome flowers now are come,
Golden figurines and beauties not buxom
Where a feeble moon iridesces... They are here
Tuneful to flee into the wood bright and clear.
Of mallows and irises and nocturnal roses
Are the night graces under their dances disclosed.
What veiled perfumes their golden fingers dispense!
But the sweet azure is bare in this dead copse
And some thin water gleams a bit, rested
Like an antique dewdrop’s pallid treasure
Whence in flower rises silence... and here
Tuneful to flee into the wood bright and clear.
To loved calyxes their hands are gracious;
A little moonlight sleeps on their lips pious
And their marvelous arms with drowsy gestures
Love to undo beneath the friendly myrtles
Their wild bonds and their caresses... But some,
Less captive to the rhythm and harps’ far strum,
Go with subtle steps to the lake buried
To drink from lilies frail water where sleeps pure oblivion.

• • •

Paul Valéry was first published by the Revue maritime de Marseille. He was elected to the Académie Française in 1925, replacing the editor who rejected Mallarmé’s “Afternoon of a Faun”.

Christopher Mulrooney has written translations in Pusteblume, Renditions, Passport, Ars Interpres, The Drunken Boat and Cipher Journal.

• • •

[Calque will be periodically featuring new translations of poetry or short prose. These translations will run on the front page for a week. The feature will then be given a permanent link in the translators page. To submit single pieces for online publication, email us.]

Call for Submissions

Calque is currently and perpetually seeking work in the following categories:

• Literary Translations of stories, poems, manifestos, essays, diaries, comics, lectures, etc. etc. From any time period, any language, by any author. We offer space for translators to publish the original material alongside their translations, if they wish to do so, and if the media allows. Translations should be accompanied by a translator's note, 500-1500 words, detailing relevant information pertaining to the work translated, the author, or the process of translation itself.

• Interviews with authors, translators, publishers etc.

• Critical Essays focusing on some aspect of works in translation, translation studies, comparative literature, etc.

• Book Reviews of translations either recently published or forthcoming.

Inquiries regarding the suitability of any given submission may be sent via e.mail to All inquiries will be answered.

Deadline for inclusion in Calque Issue 2 is April 15th, 2007. Inquiries received after this date will be considered for Issues 3 and 4.

Rubén Darío, "Sinfonía en Gris Mayor"

translated from the Spanish by Brandon Holmquest

Sinfonía en Gris Mayor

El mar como un vasto cristal azogado
refleja la lámina de un cielo de zinc;
lejanas bandadas de pájaros manchan
el fondo bruñido de pálido gris.

El sol como un vidrio redondo y opaco
con paso de enfermo camina al cenit;
el viento marino descansa en la sombra
teniendo de almohada su negro clarín.

Las ondas que mueven su vientre de plomo
debajo de muelle parecen gemir.
Sentando en un cable, fumando su pipa,
está un viejo marinero pensando en las playas
de un vago, lejano, brumoso país.

Es viejo ese lobo. Tostaron su cara
los rayos de fuego del sol del Brasil;
los recios tifones del mar de la China
le han visto bebiendo su fracaso de gin.

La espuma impregnada de yodo y salitre
ha tiempo conoce su roja nariz,
sus crespos cabellos, sus bíceps de atleta,
su gorra de lona, su blusa de dril.

En medio del humo que forma el tabaco
ve el viejo el lejano, brumoso país,
adonde una tarde caliente y dorada
tendidas las velas partío el bergantín…

La siesta del trópico. El lobo se aduerme.
Ya todo lo envuelve la gama del gris.
Parece que un suave y enorme esfumino
del curvo horizonte borrara el confín.

La siesta del trópico. La vieja cigarra
ensaya su ronca guitarra senil,
y el grillo preludia un solo monótono
en la única cuerda que está en su violín.

Symphony in Gray Major

The sea like a vast mirrored crystal
reflects the zinc sheet of the sky;
far away, flocks of birds stain
the burnished edge pale gray.

The round sun, an opaque pane of glass
passes with a limp toward its zenith;
the sea wind resting in the shade
holds a black bugle for a pillow.

The waves that move their leaden bellies
under the pier, they seem to howl.
Sitting on a cable, smoking his pipe,
is an old sailor, thinking of the beaches
of a vague, distant, foggy country.

He is old, this wolf. His face has been
toasted by the Brazilian sun’s rays;
the forceful typhoons of China he has seen
while drinking from his flask of gin.

The foam pregnant with salt and iodine
has known in its time his red nose,
his curled chess pieces, his athlete’s biceps,
his canvas cap, his drill sweater.

In the midst of the tobacco smoke
the old man goes to the distant, foggy
country, to a hot, golden afternoon where
the brigand quickly departs from the watch.

The tropical siesta. The wolf sleeps.
All now enveloped in the gamut of gray.
It seems that the boundaries are erased
by the smooth, enormous curve of the horizon.

The tropical siesta. The old cicada
practices her snoring, senile guitar,
and the cricket preludes a lone monotone
on the only string of his violin.

• • •

Rubén Darío (1867-1916), the Nicaraguan poet who served as the chief figure in the Modernismo movement in Latin America, published his first major collection of poety, Azul… in 1888. The volume met with mixed, even virulent reviews from notable figures such as Miguel de Unamuno and Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo. Luckily the book ended up in the hands of the Spanish critic Juan Valera, whose praise cemented the book’s importance. Sinfonía en Gris Mayor appeared in 1891.

• • •

[Calque will be periodically featuring new translations of poetry or short prose. These translations will run on the front page for a week. The feature will then be given a permanent link in the translators page. To submit single pieces for online publication, email us.]

Psalm 1 from The Chamorro Bible

translated from the Chamorro by Craig Perez

Salmo 1

1 Dichoso y taotao, ni ti mamomocat gui pinagat y manaelaye, ni y ti sumasaga gui chalan manisao, ni y ti matatachong gui siyan ayo sija y manmanmofefea.

2 Lao guiya lay Jeova, ayo y minagofña, ya y layña jajaso, jaane yan puenge.

3 Ya taegüijeja y trongcon jayo ni y matanme gui oriyan sadog, ya guaja tinegchaña gui tiempoña, ya y jagonña ti umalayo; ya todo y finatinasña mumemegae.

4 Lao ti taegüine y manaelaye; lao parejo yan y paja ni y güinaefe ni y manglo.

5 Sa enao na ti mangajujulo y manaelaye gui sentensia; ni y manisao gui y inetnon manunas.

6 Sa si Jeova jatungo y chalan manunas: lao y chalan manaelaye ufanmalingo.

Psalm 1 (‘objective’ translation)

BLESSED is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Psalm 1 (translated from the Chamorro)

we are cursed, in the path of the ungodly [...] the blessed sinners make counsel

their law is our Lord [...] a colony of day and night

a tree planted in sand; the river is a military landfill [...] no fruit, withered leaf

in the ungodly wind [...] we become wheat

to their congress of sinners, judgement, and sentence [...]

will the Landlord of our path ever perish?

• • •

The Psalms were translated into Chamorro (the native language of the Pacific Island of Guam, a US territory) in 1907, as part of a missionary project to create a Chamorro Bible. During the proceeding US suppression of the native language, the Bibles disappeared from circulation. Although the books were reprinted in 1952, Y Salmo Sija (The Psalms) were omitted. The complete Chamorro Bible, including YSalmo Sija, was rediscovered in 2001 and is now available online at

A native of the Pacific island of Guahan (Guam), Craig Perez immigrated to California in 1995. He completed his MFA at the University of San Francisco, and is co-founder of Achiote Press. His work has appeared in Jacket, Watchword, The Redlands Review, Slope, Rain Taxi, Quercus, and Galatea Resurrects, and is forthcoming in Traffic and Tinfish.

• • •

[Calque will be periodically featuring new translations of poetry or short prose. These translations will run on the front page for a week. The feature will then be given a permanent link in the translators page. To submit single pieces for online publication, email us.]