Allison A. deFreese Translating María Negroni

Read More: A brief Q&A with  Allison A. deFreese

Poems from Archivo Dickinson/The Dickinson Archive by María Negroni
Translated from the Spanish by Allison A. deFreese

Translator’s Note: The centerpiece of María Negroni’s experimental triptych about solitary and singular artists is The Dickinson Archive, a series of 72 short meditations exploring the creative process through the lens of New England poet Emily Dickinson’s lifework and words. Though María Negroni, quite modestly, describes this collection as a “tribute,” Archivo Dickinson is not a hologram, reenactment, or fanzine. It’s a work that strikes chords we’ve never heard, or perhaps “music that is not meant to be heard,” an opus of both measure and imagination celebrating a unique and unorthodox journey toward creativity, expression, and identity. The book, in its English rendering, is also a collaboration between three women—muse, medium, and translator—with Negroni channeling Dickinson’s voice and the spirit of her words so convincingly that I occasionally felt I was translating the Poet of Amherst herself, or as if another trunk of diaries and letters had been miraculously uncovered behind a secret panel at the Emily Dickinson House or the Evergreens. I am grateful to María Negroni for reopening a dialogue that spans both continents and centuries.



The woman was moving through a garden of frost. Its whiteness seemed to her a hoax, incurable boredom. She waited for a fox to lie down next to her in life. “The problem,” she thought, “is that I will return as ash. We call this: imperfect perfection to endure; to go into exile in the flesh of one’s own cleverness, without ever relinquishing neuralgia—no day out of a year.”

The woman succumbed without leaving a trace or else the garden vanished with its jaws open.



The forest is full of animals. One of them is spite.



And even so, as the world kept adding to its list of entrapments and lethal schemes—in its own small way, the garden resisted: it sprouted blackbirds, goldfinches, hummingbirds that darted full speed from one vowel to another—reading—in the midst of this chaos—the deepest seed.



One day Death appears, thunderous as he is, in the garden grass. He is holding a paper in his hand. “No one writers their own words in my house,” he says with an unfathomable screech.

Not even the fox catches him hiding its red twin under his black cloak.

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Writer’s Biography: María Negroni (Rosario, Argentina) has published over 20 books, including poetry, nonfiction and novels. Islandia, Night Journey, Andanza (The Tango Lyrics), Mouth of Hell, and The Annunciation have appeared in English, and her work has also been translated into Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. María Negroni received a Guggenheim fellowship for poetry in 1994, a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship in 1998, the Fundación Octavio Paz fellowship for poetry in 2001, and The New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in 2005. She also received a National Book Award for her collection of poems El viaje de la noche, a PEN Award for Islandia as best book of poetry in translation (New York 2001), and the Premio Internacional de Ensayo y Narrativa de Siglo XXI for her book Galería Fantástica. Translations of her books Elegía Joseph Cornell/Elegy for Joseph Cornell and Archivo Dickinson/The Dickinson Archive (both translated by Allison A. deFreese) are forthcoming from Dalkey Archive Press in 2020-2021. She taught at Sarah Lawrence College from 1999 to 2014, and is now director of Argentina’s first creative writing program, at Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero.

Translator’s Biography: Allison A. deFreese is a poet and literary translator. She has traveled to or lived in places such as Abilene, Aguascalientes; Ambato; Anacortes; Andalucía; Andorra; Antofagasta; Arequipa, and Asunción, and previously published work in Analecta, Anomaly, Apofenie, Arkana, Asymptote, and Atención.