United Left

Álvaro Lasso

Translated from Spanish by Kelsi Vanada

The party has asked me to speak about the publishing house. This has slightly altered the angle of my sadness, though I can’t tell if it’s higher or lower. The party won’t put the spotlight on you if you’ve never written a poem steeped in the waters of history, which I’m not sure about. But that doesn’t bother me. I know about the light tech guy. He’s like me or tougher. He explained to me that, at just the right strength, spotlights can erase a lit-up person’s memories.

Thinking about that ignites me like a football player. A light-footed player with a broad back, cutting through a cloud bank.

The party wants me to speak about the publishing house on national television tomorrow morning. They want me to speak while everyone’s building up the country. “But I don’t have the voice of an artist,” I think between staggering steps. I have no right to speak, I’m like my friend the light tech. But the party doesn’t get that; it’s not up for discussion. Tomorrow morning I’ll speak, and that beam will light me up and I’ll lose all my memories; I’ll feel the light tech’s eyes lost in the conspiratorial darkness that comes before death.

Kelsi Vanada is a poet and translator from Spanish and Swedish. Her translations include Damascus, Atlantis (Terra Nova Press, 2021), Into Muteness (Veliz Books, 2020) and The Eligible Age (Song Bridge Press, 2018), and she is the author of the poetry chapbook Rare Earth (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Kelsi is the Program Manager of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) in Tucson, Arizona.

Álvaro Lasso was born in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, in 1982. At ten months old, he was relocated to Peru. He is both founder and editor of Estruendomudo, an important independent publishing company in Latin America since 2004. Lasso has published three books: Dos niñas de Egon Schiele [Two of Egon Schiele’s Girls] (2006), The Astrud Gilberto Album (2010), and Izquierda Unida [United Left] (Celacanto 2015, La Bella Varsovia 2016, Overol 2018). He lives in Santiago, Chile.