Gajes Del Oficio / Occupational Hazards

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

Carlos Llaza: ‘Gajes del oficio’ is a poem about writing poems. It focuses on the aridity of the experience, as well as the solitude it demands. While the speaker seems resigned to the occupational hazards, the poem acknowledges the existence of others and their importance in the search for a renewed yet relatable voice.

Dorothy Lawrenson: This poem’s imagery effectively captures the complexities and the sheer hard work involved in writing poetry. I particularly sympathise with the idea of having to rewrite history ‘desde cero’: even a seasoned poet must begin each poem from scratch as if it’s the first poem ever written, starting with a blank page every time. Translation offers the considerable fillip that someone else’s words act as the starting point!

Scroll down to see a video of poet and translator reading this poem, with English subtitles.

Gajes Del Oficio
por Carlos Llaza

Esto de trabajar de noche
junto al río
de hurgar bajo piedras redondas
y entre la hierba larga
como taxónomo de arena
para relojes

Esto de renunciar a ropas
tras una sola puesta
la voluntad enferma de afonía
sobre la cama de papel,
de preparar café para las horas
de abstinencia

Tal vez migrar cuando las aves
en busca de mejores humos
y reescribir la historia desde cero
y la insaciable antropofagia:
la voz al revés
como de dios

Occupational Hazards
owerset intae Scots bi Dorothy Lawrenson

This tyauvin bi nicht
aside the watter
howkin unner roond stanes
an amang the lang girss
lik some taxonomist o sand
fir oor-glesses

This giein ower o claes
efter weirin thaim but yince
ma wull seek wi the roup
on a bed o paper,
this readyin coffee fir the oors
o abstinence

Aiblins tae flit alang wi the burds
seekin better hames
an tae scrieve history ower fae the stert
an the anthropophagy that cannae be slockent:
ma vyce whummelt
like the vyce o God

Occupational Hazards
translated into English by Carlos Llaza and Dorothy Lawrenson

This working at night
beside the river
rummaging under round stones
and among the long grass
like a taxonomist of sand
for hourglasses

This renouncing of clothes
after wearing them once
my will sick with hoarseness
on the bed of paper,
this preparing of coffee for the hours
of abstinence

Perhaps to migrate with the birds
in search of better homes
and rewrite history from scratch
and the insatiable anthropophagy:
my voice in reverse
like that of God

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