She didn’t kiss you and she left in a hurry,
and arrived home and switched on the computer
and wrote I have not kissed youI have not kissed your mouth
and now what shall I do with this need for your lips.

Make literature. Just literature.

[Translated with permission by Graciella Edo Grigg & Ester Pou Jutglar, first appearing on the author’s website at:]


No t’ha besat i ha marxat amb pressa,
i ha arribat a casa, i ha encès l’ordinador,
i ha escrit no t’he besat, no t’he besat la boca
i ara què en faig jo d’aquest voler-te als llavis.

En fa literatura. Només literatura.



I recall that cruel pain in the retinas
the eve when, of a sudden, we saw so much clearer.
It was a coincidence, inexplicable:
first we heard the cheese of a half-million voices
and then the flashes of the cameras came in bursts.
How the light hurt, that light so white
it left no shadows, it lit up all:
how the people shouted facing the barrage.
Afterward, clairvoyance: we learned the truth
of this city of ours made for the others,
we dug up nails at the feet of the buildings,
blocks of cardboard, blocks of wood, open pails of paint
and other materials for modern, cosmopolitan décor.
I remember your shudder and the tone of the question:
if it’s all a farce, are you and I cast members?
And I looked then as now without knowing what to tell you,
and we walked off in silence, hand in hand
like lovers printed on a postcard.

[Translated with permission by Adrian Nathan and to appear, with the editors’ permission, in a forthcoming issue of the Michigan-based bi-annual journal, Absinthe: World Literature in Translation.]


Recordo aquell dolor cruel a les retines
el vespre en què de sobte vam veure-hi molt més clar.
Va ser una coincidència del tot inexplicable:
primer se sentí un cheese de mig milió de veus
i tot seguit en ràfega els flaixos de les càmeres.
Quin mal feia la llum, aquella llum tan blanca
que no deixava ombres, que tot ho il·luminava:
com cridava la gent davant de la descàrrega.
Després, clarividències: vam saber la veritat
d’aquesta ciutat nostra que és feta per als altres,
vam descobrir-hi claus als peus dels edificis,
pilons de cartró i fusta, pots de pintura oberts
i d’altres materials d’un decorat modern, cosmopolita.
Recordo el teu ensurt i el to de la pregunta:
¿si tot és una farsa, tu i jo som figurants?
Et vaig mirar com ara sense saber què dir-te,
i vam marxar en silenci, de la mà
com els enamorats que hi ha en una postal.



Written in the open,
addressed to the stands.
The public nods yes
and day darkens through the window.

Before opening the umbrella
someone else cites someone else and affirms:
we’re on the verge of a shipwreck,
you and I, dear, are drowning.

How cruel a privilege
on this side of the world
is metaphor.

[Translated with permission by Adrian Nathan and to appear, with the editors’ permission, in a forthcoming issue of the Michigan-based bi-annual journal, Absinthe: World Literature in Translation.]


S’escriu a la intempèrie,
diu dirigint-se a la platea.
El públic fa que sí amb el cap
i rere la finestra el dia s’enfosqueix.

Abans d’obrir el paraigua
hi algú que cita a algú i afirma:
som a les portes d’un naufragi,
tu i jo, estimada, ens ofeguem.

Quin privilegi més cruel
a aquest costat del món
és la metàfora.


Ecclesiastes *

All that occurred and did not occur,
all will return, will not recur,
but will return.

Francesc Josep Vélez **

There’s nothing new in all we say:
not in the stubborn strength of beauty
nor in the deep lament of every loss.
Nor in the very center of the poems
where the light inevitably blinds.

It’s never the first time, it’s never too brusque
or blunt, the gesture that burlesques and says:
trust me, I’ll always be there.

There’s nothing new, save silence.

[Translated with permission by Adrian Nathan Westfirst appearing on the author’s website at: and to appear, with the editors’ permission, in a forthcoming issue of the Michigan-based bi-annual journal, Absinthe: World Literature in Translation.]

The title is one of the twenty-four books of the Old Hebraic Testament, possibly composed after B.C. 450 (given its traces of Aramaic and Persian), comprising the reflections upon the pain and frustration of the life of the narrator and his incomplete journey towards understanding in twelve verses. The last line of this poem (l. 9) half-echoes Ecclesiastes 1.9.
** Francesc Josep Vélez, cited in the epigraph, is a Catalan teacher of philosophy and a writer, who was invited to recite his poetry by the southern Finnish city of Lappeenranta in 2013 (the year after Mireia Calafell herself).


Tot això va passar i no va passar,
tot tornarà a no passar un altre cop,
però tornarà
Francesc Josep Vélez

No hi ha res nou en tot el que diem:
ni en l’esforç tossut de la bellesa
ni en el lament profund de cada pèrdua.
Tampoc al centre exacte dels poemes,
allà on la llum inevitablement encega.

Mai és el primer cop, mai és prou brusc
ni contundent el gest que imita i diu
confia en mi que sí, sempre hi seré.

No hi ha res nou, tret del silenci.



Slowly ─no other choice─, she takes off her clothes.
Shirt buttons are difficult for fingers
that tremble. And the trousers, the trousers
are a test of her balance, patience and dignity,
as if to say I cannot the way things are. How to put it, how things are.
When she is naked she gets dressed again, resuming the ritual.
And so until the end of the day, and the end of her days.

She cannot accept that only snakes, while shedding,
lose their scales and their wounds together.

[Translated with permission by Graciella Edo Grigg & Ester Pou Jutglar, first appearing on the author’s website at:]


Lentament –tampoc no hi ha alternativa–, es treu la roba.
Quanta dificultat en els botons de la camisa per uns dits
tremolosos com els seus. I els pantalons, els pantalons
són una prova d’equilibris, de paciència i dignitat,
com dir no puc en aquest ordre. Com dir, com l’ordre.
Quan és nua del tot torna a vestir-se, reprèn el ritual.
I així fins que s’acaba el dia i a ella, els dies, se li acaben.

No acceptarà mai que sols les serps, en fer la muda,
poden desprendre’s d’escates i, alhora, de ferides.



I ate with the honesty of someone who cannot deceive what she eats:
I ate the food and not its name.
Clarice Lispector *

To eat as if the word was not eaten:
not the almost brazen strawberry
on the white of a china plate,
but the mute shadow of winter
that welcomes in the silence a flicker
rather than linger waiting for fruit

To eat what words do not say
and so, mouth full, to write.

[Translated with permission by Graciella Edo Grigg & Ester Pou Jutglar, first appearing on the author’s website at:]

Clarice Lispector, cited in the epigraph, was a multi-lingual Brazilian prose fiction writer of Jewish Ukrainian origins whose family fled the Russian Civil War—and arguably one of the first Brazilian novelists to employ the interior monologue in the first of her ten novels and to focus upon impoverishment and marginality in her last—as well as a newspaper columnist especially during the ‘sixties for Rio de Janeiro’s Correio da Manhã, and São Paulo’s Diário da Noite.


Vaig menjar amb la honestedat de qui no enganya allò que menja: 
vaig menjar aquell menjar i no el seu nom.
Clarice Lispector

Menjar com qui no menja el nom:
no la maduixa quasi impúdica
damunt del blanc de la ceràmica,
sinó l’ombra muda de l’hivern
que en el silenci acull l’esclat
per no ser allà esperant-ne el fruit.

Menjar el que no diu cap paraula
i així, amb la boca plena, escriure.

It’s not true

It’s not true

The World is Born in Every Kiss
Juan Fontcoberta *

It’s not true
that with every kiss
the world is reborn,
stars rain
in the depths of your eyes
and orange trees
graze the wind
and the scent of surrounding
and more salt in the sea
and more flights in the sky.

It’s not true
that with each kiss
the thawing goes on
and a polar bear
runs tranquil
of falling down
and flowers take root
on the uppermost peaks
where it is so cold
even today.

It’s not so, I tell you
that with each kiss
all the accents
turn graver
and the world whirls
round the sun
like a dervish **
dressed in white
and the withered cactuses
no longer prick

No, I tell you
it just isn’t true
that between you and me
when we kiss
they change,
the tones of the cities
we didn’t visit
the boulevards
amid the blight
fill with birds
where the raven

we brought along
sings a chant:

no I tell you
it isn’t true

but above all
never stop
stretching out the kiss
just in case
what I believe
is wrong
and with a lone gesture
I’ve undone it all
for the truth
I am certain
is no more than faith
and faith means
wanting it all
and all means
stretching out a kiss

[Translated with permission by Adrian Nathan and to appear, with the editors’ permission, in a forthcoming issue of the Michigan-based bi-annual journal, Absinthe: World Literature in Translation.]

Juan Fontcoberta, mentioned in the epigraph, is a photographer commissioned to undertake a photomosaic entitled El món neix en cada besada [The World is Born in Every Kiss] for the tercentenary of the 1714 defeat of Barcelona during the major European war of 1701-1714 (the so-called “War of the Spanish Succession”). Situated in the Plaça d’Isidre Nonell (named after Barcelona’s leading late nineteenth century painter who depicted the poor, the marginalised, the wounded, and the outcast), the mosaic measures 8.0 x 3.8 metres comprising four thousand tiles. See, e.g.,
** Dervish (or darvesh) (l. 30) is an ascetic vowed to a life of poverty, service, and love who guides the Sufi Muslim to commune with God, often through religious practices aimed at inducing an ecstatic trance.

No és veritat

El món neix en cada besada
Juan Fontcoberta

No és veritat
que amb cada bes
reneixi el món,
ploguin estels
al fons dels ulls
i els tarongers
toquin el vent
i olor d’estiu
a tot arreu
i al mar més sal
i al cel més vols.

No és veritat
que amb cada bes
siguin més lents
tots els desgels
i un ós polar
corri tranquil
sense la por
de caure avall
i arrelin flors
als pics més alts
on fa tan fred
avui també.

No és cert et dic
que amb cada bes
siguin més greus
tots els accents
i balli el món
entorn del sol
com un dervix
vestit de blanc
en un desert
i els cactus secs
no punxin tant
Que et dic que no
que no és veritat
que entre tu i jo
quan ens besem
canviem els tons
de les ciutats
que no hem vist mai
s’omplin d’ocells
els bulevards
de llocs perduts
on canta el corb
que portem dins:

et dic que no
que no és veritat

però sobretot
no deixis mai
d’allargar el bes
per si de cas
és un error
el que jo crec
i amb un sol gest
ho desfem tot
que la veritat
ho sé del cert
és tan sols fe
i fe vol dir
voler-ho tot
i tot vol dir
allargar un bes.

Mireia Calafell, born in Barcelona 1980, has published three collections of poetry: Poètiques del cos [Poetics of the Body] (2006), Costures [Seams] (2010), and Tantes mudes [So Many Sheddings] (2014). Amongst her many poetry prizes for these works, the latter was awarded the Lletra d’Or in 2015 for the best volume published in Catalan and has recently been translated by Flavia Company into Spanish (Tantas mudas, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat: Stendhal Books, 2016) whose preface emphasizes its mixture of “the diurnal and the reflective, the concrete and the abstract,” thereby allowing for many levels of reading and whose verse proves “Nothing is safe in poetry.”

Calafell also works for the highly energetic association, Artsmoved, and its cultural and educational projects such as Artsmoved Beijing in October/November 2010 (see its translated catalogue at: ). She has been a co-director of Poesia i + Festival since 2016 and this year will be the co-director of the Barcelona Poesia Festival.

Her poetry has been included in anthologies published on both sides of the Atlantic. English translations include those by Theo Dorgan in Manuela Palacios (ed.), Forked Tongues: Galician, Basque and Catalan Women’s Poetry in Translations by Irish Writers (Bristol: Shearsman Books, 2012) and others by the three translators below which can be found on the poet’s website at: .