Poet, Translator and Instructor Speaks About Power of Language

Pensacola – As part of the Experience UWF Downtown lecture series, Dr. Raquel Lanseros read her award-winning poetry to a rapt audience at the historic Museum of Commerce Tuesday evening.

“Poetry may sound far away from our daily world,” Lanseros said. “But it’s closer than we might think. Language is the most important part of our daily routine.”

In a talk called “Different Languages, Different Names: Poetry as a Universal Fact and the Power of Translation,” Lanseros, a renowned contemporary Spanish poet who is currently a visiting instructor with the University of West Florida’s world languages program, raised awareness about the literary richness available to listeners and readers who also consider the challenge of translating poetry from one language to another.

“Poetry is the translation of the human soul onto paper,” Lanseros said. “Poetry is the voice of humanity itself.”

Here is an excerpt from one of her poems she read called “Then You Kissed Me.”

There exists no union more truthful

nor greater clarity in the substance

from which we are created.

This blessed fusion made from our entrails,

the permanent artery of our race.

Only those who have kissed know that they are immortal.

This poem is from her book called “Croniria.” It is for sale in the United States and contains both a Spanish and English version of every poem included.

Lanseros stood on the stage near a podium and used only a book of her poetry to give the hour-long talk and to do her readings.

“We want to rely on the power of words,” Lanseros said. “That is why you see nothing else up here. Words are often so powerful there is something almost physical about them.”

Dr. Allen Josephs assisted with the translation of Dr. Lanseros’ work during the reading.

She read her poetry in Spanish, and Dr. Allen Josephs, who teaches American, Spanish and Latin American literature in the UWF English department, read the English translation, often stopping for applause in the middle of a poem. Josephs has been translating Spanish poetry into English since the 1960s.

Besides reading her poetry, Lanserors talked about the challenges of translation.

“When you are translating, you have to keep in mind that poetry is a three-legged stool. There is thought, emotion and music. I really believe that both music and message can be conveyed through poetry… translating is a way to open up different windows.”

As a poet, translator and instructor, Lanseros is one of the most recognized voices of contemporary poetry in the Spanish language. About 200 critics at more than 100 universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Oxford, have named Lanseros the most relevant Spanish-language female poet born after 1970.

She is the author of books such as “Legends of the Promontory,” “Diary of a Gleam” and “The Eyes of the Mist.” Her book “Small Thorns Are Small” was a best-seller in Spain during 2014. Among the awards Lanseros has received are the Unicaja Poetry Prize, the Antonio Machado in Baeza Prize and the Jaen Poetry Prize. Lanceros has a doctorate in didactics of language and literature, and a master’s in communication, both from the University of Almeria in Almeria, Spain.

“I will never be bored because I am devoted to poetry, and the good news is there is a lot to learn,” Lanseros said.

Her work has been partially translated into numerous languages and included in anthologies and literary journals around the globe. She is a frequent participant in poetry workshops, courses, festivals and literary events and collaborates with international literary and cultural magazines.

Presented by the University of West Florida College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, the Experience UWF Downtown lecture series, now in its fifth season, showcases scholars of outstanding prominence who promote the value and role of the liberal arts in building and sustaining contemporary culture.