Fuel and Fire: Selected Poems 1956-76
Translated by Julia Leverone
ISBN: 978-1-944884-54-3 (pbk.)
124 Pages: 17.95 (special pricing until Christmas 2018)
Francisoco “Paco” Urondo, journalist and militant, used his poetry to witness and denounce the suppressive Argentine state that unrolled its dirty war in the 1970s. Fuel and Fire, a selection produced between 1956 and 1976, the year Urondo was assassinated, is subversive poetry, written in humility and desperation, fueled by accusation and lament, placing blame on an ignorant public but hope in the hands of individuals who can give themselves over to love.
This selection from Urondo’s Obra poética, (Adriana Hidalgo, 2006), edited and translated by Julia Leverone, offers for the first time to English-speaking readers an overview of the work of this prolific and dedicated poet and activist. Juan Gelman, a fellow poet and friend, remembers Urondo as saying once that he “took up arms because he was looking for the right word,” which illustrates the inseparability, for Urondo, of his art and politics, placing him in the tradition of other political poets like Wilfred Owen, Eugenio Montale, Paul Celan, Zbigniew Herbert, Robert Hayden, and Adrienne Rich.
This selection includes representative work from his first book, Ancient History, through Battle Stories, written near the time of his death. Of the work of this translation Julia Leverone writes:
I translated for the poems themselves. I have been in intervals stricken with the texture of Spanish words as they convert to English, with the sweetness of a literal phrase; and with the incredible truths being spoken in them. Paco’s voice, and message, were on my mind, but I have a voice and hold a message, and am also a poet. I cannot deny this. Paco had not yet been brought to the English-speaking world of poetry, and because of this I intended to make his late debut a show of all his talent; how he navigated his revolutionary ideology, his cityscapes, and conversationality. But where I could I made the choice for sound and, by extension, the wholeness of the poem. He paid attention to these, so I do, as my American English ear sends me. Interpretation occurs in some moments where my mind was with the reader. I have been Lowell and Pound, you and Benjamin. And above all, Urondo: even in my writing, away from the translations, he stays with me.
Praise for Francisco Urondo and Fuel and Fire
Francisco Urondo’s poems speak from beyond the grave, rebuking the forces of repression that ended his life in the early stages of the Argentine Dirty War. His poems burn with life, speaking in the language of that moment, a “Milonga of the Marginalized Paranoid,” but also as a messenger of passionate, eternal truths: “I will give my life so that nothing continues as it is.” Julia Leverone’s translations from Spanish bring Urondo’s voice, his time, his brief existence, to life on the page.
—Jesse Lee Kercheval, translator The Invisible Bridge / El puente invisible: Selected Poems of Circe Maia
A fierce poet and a just as fierce revolutionary, Urondo breaks free from the false dichotomies of social commitment and formal experimentation. This poetry is stripped-down, powerful, uncompromisin… a long time coming. Thanks to Julia Leverone’s skilled selection and translation, we can finally know it in English.
—Katherine M. Hedeen, translator of With a Strange Scent of World, by Víctor Rodríguez Núñez
Urondo, a militant and a poet, once claimed to have taken up arms because he was looking for the right word. Julia Leverone has found the right selection of Urondo’s words in these pages, and in so doing has armed English with a powerful new voice.
—Geoffrey Brock, Editor-in-Chief, The Arkansas International