27 February 2009

Mayra L. Dole

When a poet writes in a second language, s/he sometimes (I think, often) fails to do what s/he really wants to do. This is obvious from this pair of stanzas done by Afro-Cuban Mayra L. Dole, who translates from Spanish to English, in her poem "Mi Negra Chambelona / My Black Lollipop", published in Cipher Journal:

¡Chiqui-trí Chiqui-trá!/
Ven pa’cá mamá/
De la bemba gorda/
Y la boca colorá/

Chiki-trí Chiki-trá!/
Comeh here choogarsita/
Wit dee plump/
Chehrrry leeps/

The poet clearly wants to rhyme, but cannot in the English version. In the next stanza, she is successful:

Maravilla Chiquitrilla/
Con miel en la rodilla/
Esa tipa está mojá/

Maraveeya Chikitreeya/
Drippin’ honey from dee knee/
Joo drunk-ass can be/

In the rest of the poem, she cannot get the English lines to rhyme, even though she tries. One cannot say that she does not have a good command of English (she has lived in Miami, New York, New Jersey, and Boston, and is published by Harper Collins). What she fails to do can only be attributed to the use of a second language.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa. What a joke. I know her and her english is perfect. She is a good one for perpetuating myths about herself which are not true. Yes, she might have been born in Cuba but I take it as a great insult she would descibe herself as "afro-cuban". She is of no more "AFRO" stock than someone born in Norway who is white a ghost. It is time this woman be exposed for the fake that she is. She has no right to join those of us who are truely AFRO-cuban.