More Featured, Poetry Books, Translation Series The Imaginary Age
More Featured, Poetry Books, Translation Series dark // thing
You neither create nor destroy me, you only transform me. In this exciting addition to the Pleiades Press Series in Translation, Luis Panini’s Destruction of the Lover is a story about love—erotic, tragicomic, devastating love—and its singular capability to redefine who we think we are. Lawrence Schimel’s pitch-perfect translation of this taut series of prose poems captures the distinct vibrancy of Panini’s voice on the page while bringing into vivid relief the nuanced experience of his speaker who is, as Rigoberto González puts it in his introduction, “book-smart but still discovering the shape of his queerness.” Following in the literary tradition of Dante and Petrarch yet wholly modern, Panini reminds us that the path to the beloved unfailingly leads back to the self, but a self made new through suffering, a self transformed.
Praise for Destruction of the Lover:
In Luis Panini’s Destruction of the Lover, masterfully translated by Lawrence Schmiel, the narrative is one of decoding language in its many forms— verbal, physical, sexual— and intimidate map-making of the body onto the page: “Este oficio de traducirte la carne. This role of translating everything into your flesh.” Here love is natural disaster, a reimagined yet fleeting topography that ignites itself between a lyrical, candid speaker and cautious (yet intense) lover. “Tú no me creas ni me destruyes, únicamente me transformas/ You neither create nor destroy me, you only transform me.” Carefully unraveling a testament that is “las pisadas en vavién de una fiera en cautiverio/pacing to and fro of a beast in captivity,” the reader too delves deeper into an affair in which “…el lenguaje era una enfermedad de la garganta/…language was a sickness of the throat.” Though the lover’s physical body might be evanescent, the experience and journey of such relentless passions are not— and neither are the addicting, haunting words of Luis Panini. The reader will be tightly drawn into this collection, wanting to finish it in a single sitting, for as the speaker says to his lover: “My ear is an extension of your lips.”
“Panini’s poems have flesh and bones and they sing and mourn with the beauty of naked lover in front of our eyes. He is much of a beautiful Frankenstein of poet, a surgeon devilishly using a scalpel. His poetry does not reveal, dissect; does not contemplate, entice; does not talk, whispers; intimate and dangerous like a poisoned psalm. Each poem’s a human puzzle, memorable and intriguing, always inviting. This book is a cartography of desire “.
Elegant and erotic, sensuous and cerebral, Luis Panini’s The Destruction of the Lover is a riveting narrative sequence of 41 proems, printed in their original Spanish alongside Lawrence Schimel’s deft English translations. Read this book for lingering images like the “hourglass’ wasp-waist” and “the sphincter [that] becomes an engagement ring.” Read this book for luminous insights like “we are what they say: incorrigible mammals.” Read this book for that oracular moment that speaks directly and profoundly to you. (Here is mine, seized by the witty surprise: “Dante forgot to chart in his Inferno the circle where metrosexuals will be punished.”) Most importantly, read this book!
—Julie Marie Wade