Contributor Spotlight: Allison A. deFreese

Allison A. deFreese’s translations of María Negroni appeared in Issue 26 and can be read here.

We’d love to hear more about translating these pieces.

The Dickinson Archive is the centerpiece of María Negroni’s experimental triptych about solitary and singular artists. The book contains 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 much more. It’s a work that strikes chords we’ve never before heard and perhaps plays a “music that is not meant to be heard;” an opus of measure and imagination celebrating a unique and unorthodox journey toward creativity, expression, and identity. The English translations are also a collaboration between three women—muse, poet, and translator—and a dialogue that spans both continents and centuries.

What was the most difficult part of this translation?

María Negroni channels the spirit of Dickinson’s words so convincingly that I occasionally felt I was translating the Poet of Amherst herself! One challenge was finding a register that simultaneously captured both Negroni’s and Dickinson’s voices. This required careful consideration of each word—as well as all their nuances of meaning both today and 150 years ago. The cadence and structure of these pieces from The Dickinson Archive follow Emily Dickinson’s alternative syntax as reenvisioned in prose poetry by María Negroni.  

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

Anne O. Fisher, Mary Jane White, and Shelley Fairweather-Vega all have forthcoming books of Russian poetry in translation that I’m looking forward to reading. 

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be? Why?

I won’t be traveling again for a while, but I miss the literary arts and culture scene in the Yucatán. 

What are you working on now? What’s next?

I’ve just translated a beautiful, experimental novella by Karla Marrufo that I wish everyone could read. I’m collaborating with several poets from Mexico and South America. I started writing a poem a day in April (as did Emily Dickinson for 2,956 straight days) and finished a new manuscript of my own poems in July. 

Our thanks to Allison for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read Allison’s translations, “Dream”, “Solace”, “War”, and “Colors”, here:


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.