Contemporary Galician Poetry 2

galiocia 2


The editor of The High Window would again like to thank Keith Payne and his team of translators for the hard work and enthusiasm which they have put into this second supplement of contemporary Galician poetry.


Keith Payne is an award-winning poet, translator and editor, recently co-editing A Different Eden: Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia  (Dedalus, 2021). Collections include Broken Hill (Lapwing, Belfast, 2015); Six Galician Poets (Arc, 2016); Diary of Crosses Green, from the Galician of Martín Veiga (Francis Boutle, 2018); The Desert, from the Galician of María do Cebreiro (Shearsman, 2019, PBS Translation Choice); Second Language, from the Galician of Yolanda Castaño (Shearsman 2020) and Jewels in the Mud: Selected poems of Martin Veiga (Small Stations, 2020). He is curator of The Aodh Ruadh Ó’Domhnaill Poetry Exchange between Ireland and Galicia and is currently Cork City Library Poet in Residence.


keith P cropped


Par 2 Spring 2023

When David Cooke contacted me to assemble a  selection of contemporary Galician poetry, I recalled the 12-month editing session it took myself, Lorna Shaughnessy and Martín Veiga to read, select and order poems for A Different Eden: Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia (Dedalus Press, 2021), and realised it would take me three years to achieve a similar task. So I decided to let the translators lead the way, and sending out a call for their personal selection, I received over fifty poems by over twenty-five  poets from the personal selections of the translators featured below, which I hope you’ll enjoy.  It is, as it were, a ‘team’ rather than a ‘theme’ effort, in the words of translator and collaborator Pat Loughnane.

And to that team, I am hugely grateful. Each of the translators below gave of their time, expertise, belief in poetry and in Galician poetry in particular, free of charge, which is always worth noting.

The themes, however couldn’t but arise as I read the poems. They began forming out of the paper labyrinth that was snaking across my kitchen table. The poems could have been arranged into utterly different themes, or into no themes at all; could have been laid out alphabetically, by size, weight or shape; randomly or by which of the elements they most closely resembled. For collating poems under a national rubric leads us straight into cliché, reductionism and far too much exclusion. Where the Senegalese poets writing in Galicia today? Ditto Peruvians, Russians and now more than ever, Ukrainian poets sheltering somewhere along the Vigo to A Coruña line? Could I, who spend part of the year in Vigo where I write, translate and give readings, be considered a Galician poet? It’s always intrigued me how one could pass through the needle’s eye to become a Dubliner, New Yorker or Sydneysider so much easier than through the gates barred to all except Citizens.

But that is for another anthology. That ideal Borgesian anthology, which will include every voice writing, humming, lisping and mouthing their words into a polyglot universe of such capaciousness its echoes will reverberate in Semitic, Sanskrit, Proto-Indo European and back to two stones clacking together.

For now, I want to thank again all the poets who agreed to have their work in translation appear in this Galician edition, also their publishers, the translators, and a particular thanks to the Editor of The High Window David Cooke for his opening of the window onto the landscape of poetry in translation.

I hope you enjoy …






The mouths of post-boxes
On the sociology of absences.
The sparrow pecking
At the disappointed onomatopoeias
Among the losing tickets
Of the charity Tombola.
The one-eyed light
Like an insect informer
In the room of a boarding house.
The sound of eddies
Against the sash windows
Of an underwater tavern.
The timbre of a blind man’s cane
In the awkward angles
Of street corners.
The precision of place names
At the scene of an accident.
The indescribable sigh
Of nomadic love
Beyond Cézanne’s curve.
At the foot of the gallows.
I’ll have kilo of hunger
Today, please,
A litre of thirst,
And a slice of endangered tongue.

Manuel Rivas
from A boca da terra
Xerais (2015)
Translation first appeared in The Mouth of the Earth
Shearsman Books (2019)
Lorna Shaughnessy

I don’t want to learn to call things by their name
in this tongue
I want to call them by their meaning

Miriam Reyes
From Sardiña
Chan da Pólvora (2018)
Laura Cesarco Eglin


BUT OUR VERY LINGUISTIC CAPACITY, regardless of the idiom we speak


Language is PRODUCTION, thus CAPITAL’s attempts to PRIVATIZE language, to leave us WORDLESS


LANGUAGE, any LANGUAGE UNDER CAPITAL, tends to wither, to be converted into an object to consume. Into a thing we as speakers no longer PRODUCE, but which CAPITAL, in its attempt to privatize us, PRODUCES FOR US


Under CAPITAL the creators of Language, its speakers, turn into

CONSUMERS; Language, any Language under Capital, becomes a consumer product, the same as any other MERCHANDISE


Chus Pato,
from from m-Talá
Shearsman Books, (2009)
Erín Moure

the crows
have bodies of athletes
to a voice unlike anything else
they are similar

from here we can straighten out this encephalon

look at me
look at the garden

stony psyche

go tell the stone to speak
go tell it

to smile

Chus Pato
from Un Libre Favor
Galaxia (2019)
English translations from The Face of the Quartzes
Veliz Books, (2021)
Erín Moure


A fault of the tongue.
Not a crack: crevice
abruptly opening over the abyss
where a new sea emerges
(no path for it:
a split between the shores)


I set my gaze
where I set the distance
and I stalk the hunter
who stalks
claw clutching the earth,
late-day light caught in the eye.
I wait for distraction, camouflaged,
and just before the assault
(a breeze trembling in the elderberry trees,
an insect coursing the back of the leaf
following its veins)
and I run toward the edges of reason,

in the dark

Pilar Pallarés
Kathleen March


They will follow indifferently the words
most everything that belongs to them,
even were we to repeat them over
and again, as if some faith of ours
could convince them of themselves.
We say fire and no heat rises,
the music stifles a yawn
to the singular rhythm of the letters,
night falls with no obsidian eyes
when it’s only our voices that call.
And yet, the following occurs:
when I call your name, and you mine,
we gift to the other a hymn,
place ourselves like a burning coal
into the mouth of the world.

Jesús Castro Yáñez
from Os nomes e os himnos
Espiral Maior, (2016)
Translation first appeared in os límites da miña lingua son os límites do meu mundo/
the limits of my language,are the limits of my world
URUTAU, (2022)
Keith Payne

and I say / I say / I
what I wasn’t able to do with my mother’s tongue
I’ll do with yours
even if I speak with difficulty
the difficulty is part of this story
the knife of the unsharpened tongue
ruins the meat entirely
the lips opening and closing for the same sound
useless when it comes to meaning
but look at me / look my way
as “descalciña pola area” as your “rianxeira”

Miriam Reyes
From Sardiña
Chan da Pólvora (2018)
Laura Cesarco Eglin



I awake and Adrián is sitting at the foot of the bed.
We pretty much always fight about the same stuff, over and over.
We avoid talking about what matters.
I talk about what I’ve watched, what I’ve read, almost never about what I’ve touched. Iván went out to buy bread and feeds it to me bit by bit. We order take out. Outside, a protest is taking shape.
If we don’t talk about the important things, maybe it’s because we live together.
Because there are times when our hearts are beating in the same room and my stomach is filling with bread.
The world breathes. We argue.
Then I ask:
The children I’ve dreamt of, what color might their eyes be?
And we start another conversation.

Ismael Ramos
from Lixeiro
Xerais (2021)
Neil Anderson


I think about the Uruguayan Savannahs, the meadows warm with araucarias. About the Pampas, hemmed by the slopes of the plateau, and the open steppes covered in wheat; treeless, cultivated or fallow… It won’t open. I think about water rushing down the open channels, the channels that claw at the earth and leave nothing behind channels flowing across the plains, floodwaters … it won’t open. I think about my mother, her angry voice and she busy doing a thousand things, and it was years later when I realised what she meant by “you’re like no one’s child,” as if she knew I’d be one of those women who’d come to nothing. It won’t open. I think about my mother’s legs, open as she births me, open as she makes me, about the sow slashed from top to tail because it miscarried and was sterile, about Begonia the big pig with her legs wide open on the school bus sitting in her own funk of pheromones. About the wound on Charlie’s head after he fell off his bike, Charlie’s head open, about the open nook the day they took him in his coffin from the church to the graveyard. It won’t open. About those open days after the rains, the fig that opens its worn out skin in October in San Martiño do Bolo, about the run my grandmother still opens to sow an era of spuds and about the bitter oranges that split as they drop off the edge to the street below, the dogs’ piss and the men’s piss. It won’t open. I think about talking like an open book, I think about silence, about talking like an open body, with someone inside. I think about uncle Fernando who showed me how to open the small velvet crabs without hurting my fingers, how to open spider crabs, to open oysters… how to stay quiet while he put his hands down my pearl knickers. It won’t open. And again I think about the Savannahs in Uruguay, the floodwaters… about the mouth and eyes locked after the knife finds a vital organ. About my eyes locked on the crab. And the crab won’t open. The crab won’t open. It won’t open.

Note:  Crab (Cangrejo) is prison slang for the solitary or punishment cell. Often referred to as ‘the hole’ in English prison jargon, I have kept the Galician crab in order to maintain the metaphor throughout.

Elvira Ribeiro
from Welcome to Sing Sing
Edicións Barbantesa, (2017)
Translation first appeared in Close Approximations, Asymptote, 2017
Keith Payne


In the cold afternoon,
from every direction,
they cross the occupied land.
We will never be free
while anyone suffers,
say the outlines of their flight.

Beating against the air, the black brilliance
of all our defeats.

But what do they mean, for whom
do they not bode well,

how do they determine where to alight,
why do they know the city inside out,
but nothing of its historical process.

The questions yield little.
The crows set a new course
as far as the towers that guard the territory.

Daniel Salgado
from Os paxaros e outros poemas
Xerais, (2021)
Translation first appeared in A Different Eden: Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia
Dedalus Press, (2021)
Keith Payne


I walk the grounds around the house and I mistake a piece
of wet wood for a dead bird.
Sometimes the story I want to tell is different from what
I actually feel.
I watch my mother from a distance as she walks our dog.
I think of the animal’s moist paws, how she finds paths
by following signs we do not see. The changing of the
Sometimes in the afternoon she disappears into the high grass
or escapes into some hole and my mother stands outside calling for her.
Shouting out her name, incapable of moving.
I know the dog hears her, but she doesn’t come back.
I hear her but I don’t go to her.
Being alone is learning to be aware.

Ismael Ramos
from Lixeiro
Xerais (2021)
Neil Anderson

For Teresa Alvajar

We were in Leonor’s shop.
Without her realising,
The customer with the hoarse voice,
Black blouse,
And the arms of a woman
Widowed by a living man,
Had dropped a coin on the ground.
I covered it with my foot.
When she went to pay
It couldn’t be found.
Round and round she went,
Searching all around me,
Round and round again
Till I felt the pulse
Of a straitened planet,
Round and round,
And the coin was feeling it too,
I could sense its palpitations beneath my foot,
But I stood there, rigid,
Eyes fixed
On the tip of the arrow
Of the Ohio Scales.

Manuel Rivas
from A boca da terra
Xerais (2015)
Translation first appeared in The Mouth of the Earth
Shearsman Books (2019)
Lorna Shaughnessy


Across the street the man saws, he hammers.
Every few weeks he starts a new project; we don’t know if he finished the last.
No one in the neighborhood pays any mind. Except for me, this morning.
I sit at the desk and try to tell the story of my nerves.
I set a date and time and then I saw, I hammer. I scare off the birds.
My nerves are men coming and going.
I write a parable about the betrayal of the world by the world.
A sole man who enters and leaves. Once.
I get up early. I don’t take any visitors.
In the house across the street, the neighbor gets to work before me.
Neither of us knows about the other’s work: the progress, the time it will take.
The job is a mystery. I set a date and time to start. I carry on.
A love poem outlives its love.
Nearby, a grown man cries in the shower for two, three minutes.
Then he reads something that comforts him.

Ismael Ramos
from Lixeiro
Xerais (2021)
Neil Anderson

My mother works in a canning factory.
One day she said to me:
‘love is a can of sardines’. Do you know
how they prep the sardines
for the cans?
One day my mother said to me: love is a work of art
in a can.
do you know where you come from?
You’re from the cannery in a mussel farm
from in behind the factory, where the shells
and the fish crates stink.
An awful smell, a hopeless
blue. That’s where you’re from.
Ah! I said, so I’m a daughter of the sea.
You’re a daughter of the day off.
Oh, I said,
I’m the daughter of the lunch break.
Yes, from in behind the wall with all the dross.

Luisa Castro
from Baleas e Baleas
Ferrol: Sociedad de Cultura Valle-Inclán, 1988
Re-edited Galaxia (2018)
Keith Payne



Fish know of water, love, seeping through unconsciously
like we know of tides that burst dikes
of diverse and round love that won’t be silenced
of words scented with spring and desire
like us
under a grayish or light blue sky
knowing ourselves through mouthfuls, plains, urgencies
I know well that brooms explode when they blaze
like me with your words that burn me whole
even if I tirelessly look for the toxo flower growing from your womb
and only find peonies and bamboo
(after so much chrysanthemum)
now I wear the scent of mugwort
and ginseng roots on my skin
and we are left only with
the time of the flowering brooms
and a day later I’ll be arriving, me
in the process of blooming
pollinating myself
under the protection of your flow, love,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxof our flowering

Andrea Nunes Brións
from Diáspora De Amor Balea
Caldeirón (2018)
Laura Cesarco Eglin


and then
when you know
and I know
that it all began
long before we were born
with the first bewildered comet
or with the first crashing galaxies
or with the first whale
of all the first whales
of the hundreds of firsts
which existed first
before the whales

when you know
and I know
and the world knows then
that life comes first then

life comes first

Estevo Creus
from balea2
Positivas, (2011)
Translation first appeared in A Different Eden: Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia
Dedalus Press, (2021)
Keith Payne

From the eagle
from one of its wings

the bone
for the flute
of the shepherd

the beak plunged into flesh
devours it

no word for astonishment
five fingers held over the mouth

from one wing
a bone

for music

Chus Pato
from The Face of the Quartzes
Veliz Books, (2021)
Erín Moure

SUBJECT 01000010

On the freshly-cut grass,
a checked tablecloth
of greens and whites.
The little girl arranges her food
like a catalogue of precious stones.
It could be you, curly hair,
the same floral dress.

Between the trees the beats still reverberate
from the band
it’s summer in the legs of mothers
and vermú the name that is given
to the pretext for this get-together.

There is a yellow happiness in the air.
You yearn to pocket that light,
to save it.

Without thinking,
you shoot.

Fade to white.
And a shadow that leaves.

You look up
and the little girl is dead.
The set reveals its core
of papier mâché.

The reflection
will never give back the feeling
of that which moves
on the other side of the mirror.

Celia Parra
from Pantallas
Editorial Galaxia, (2018)
Pat Loughnane

September sun,
in the eternal ritornello of youth
(brand-new world
on an old planet),

Light beneath November’s eyelashes,
Ophelia asleep on the river’s bank.

Crystal lake framed by the Advent sky

Silent light
jumping from roots to birds,
Inventing verdure,
nurturing March
deep in the body of time.

Pure summer light:
the land of childhood.

Pilar Pallarés
Kathleen March


We swim upstream and dye ourselves in the oxide of the river’s sources,
in the bits of algae that split off the larger stems and plug the rapids,
in the mucky embrace of the trees which were once trees but are now river too.

She offers a glimpse of her breasts to the hermits.
He stops every so often and gestures with his arms, like a river-dwelling mermaid awaking.
Me, I give in.

Upstream to the place where hundreds of dragonflies mate with their eyes on the sun,
atop aquatic plants, so near to the solstice
that it’s never night time in this stretch of river when June begins
and the chlorophyll and insects explode into life within it.
If you spelled out the daisies,
they would always tell you yes.

The dragonflies double over with pleasure
and that pleasure must be intense for them to perform such impossible contortions.
The frogs croak from one bank to the other,
calling out to each other in the cadential name of their species.

The butterflies flutter in the air
and let themselves fall.
There are crickets, water striders sewing the current, and flies that we can’t see but can hear from afar, like a drum machine.
There are birds nested in the alder trees pecking at the heavens.
Two snakes brush past us as we swim
and he sings.
She shivers.

I plunge into the water
and lick them alternatively from feet to mouth.
I’m not sure if the spit belongs to me, her, the water, or him, in his sweatiness.
Nor am I sure whose tongue it is entering my mouth,
nor who it is asking whether this is love,
nor which of the three of us responds:
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx“it’s the river.”

Antón Lopo
from Talk to Me
Colección Esquío, (2003)
Jacob Rogers


Daribo quedarei derivarei,
por ti lesbidarei,
paranibo paribo dabidó.

Feliz falar palabras:
leixar xaler xileife xefiló.

Louco se cando digo decandé
ou digo os labios teus paradibé,
os teus ollos daribo dabiré.

Pepe Cáccamo
from serendos obsolimos
Bourel, Ribeira, (2022)



Neil Anderson is a teacher and translator living in Savannah, Georgia (USA).

 Laura Cesarco Eglin is a poet and translator and author of six collections, including the chapbook Life, One Not Attached to Conditionals (Thirty West Publishing House, 2020). She is cofounding editor and publisher of Veliz Books and teaches creative writing at the University of Houston-Downtown.

Patrick Loughnane is from Galway, Ireland. His translations have appeared in numerous publications, and at festivals across Europe.

Kathleen March (Rochester, NY) Professor Emerita, University of Maine. Literary critic and translator of numerous Galician writers. The Hole in the Ocean, short stories, to appear 2023.

Erín Moure is a poet in English and English/Galician, translator of poetry—especially the syntactically strange or “difficult”— from Galician, French, Spanish, Portuñol, and Portuguese, plus (with Roman Ivashkiv) from Ukrainian to English. She lives in Montreal, works everywhere.

Keith Payne is the editor of this supplement and his details woill be found above.

Jacob Rogers is a translator of Galician and Spanish and a winner of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the PEN/Heim Translation Fund. His translation of The Last Days of Terranova, by Manuel Rivas, was published by Archipelago Books in November 2022.

 Lorna Shaughnessy has published four poetry collections with Salmon Poetry, most recently Lark Water (2021). She lectures in The University of Galway in the Dept. of Hispanic Studies and is Director of ‘Crosswinds: Irish and Galician Poetry and Translation’.


Pepe Cáccamo (Xosé María Álvarez Cáccamo), is an award-winning poet, novelist, children’s author, essayist and sculptor. The poem above is from his most recent collection, serendos obsolimos, a sequence of poems –with accompanying images– written in a language of Cáccamo’s creation.

Luisa Castro is an award-winning author of numerous volumes of poetry, novels, and short fiction in both Spanish and Galician. Her first full collection in Galician, Baleas e baleas, first published in 1988, was recently republished in recognition of the ground breaking role it, and she, has had in the world of Galician poetry. She is currently Director at Instituto Cervantes in Dublin.

Estevo Creus has published over 9 collections of poetry and has performed widely throughout Europe. He was included in the anthology Six Galician Poets: New Voices from Europe and Beyond (Arc Publications, 2016).

Antón Lopo is a poet, novelist, performer, and journalist, as well as the author of nine poetry collections and four novels, many of which have won the most prestigious awards in Galicia. He is also the director of the independent poetry publishing house Chan da Pólvora.

Andrea Nunes Brións is a Galician poet and a transfeminist political activist. She has published three collections Corrente do esquecemento (2007), Todas as mulleres que fun, (Corsarias 2011), and Diáspora do amor balea (2018), co-authored with María Rosendo, which won the 2017 Erotic Poetry Prize of Illas Sisargas.

Pilar Pallarés was awarded the National Poetry Award in 2019 for Tempo fósil (Fossil Time). Publications include Entre lusco e fusco (1979), Sétima soidade (1983), Livro das devoracións (1996), Poemas (2000), Leopardo son (2011).

Celia Parra (Ourense, 1990) is a poet and film producer. Her work has been translated into several languages and screened at numerous festivals across the word.

 Chus Pato is among Europe’s greatest contemporary poets. Her pentalogy Decrúa (Delve) is available in English, with all five books translated by Erín Moure: m-Talá, Charenton, Hordes of Writing, Secession, and Flesh of Leviathan.

 Ismael Ramos is the author of three poetry collections, and one co-written collection, two of which have been translated into Spanish for the renowned publisher La Bella Varsovia. He won the 2022 Miguel Hernández National Poetry Award for his book, Lixeiro (Light).

 Miriam Reyes is a poet and visual artist. Writing primarily in Spanish, Sardiña (Sardine) was her first book to be published in Galician, and went on to form part of a broader anthology of her work published in 2021.

Elvira Ribeiro (Pontevedra, Galicia) is an award-winning poet and author of children’s literature. She has published more than six collections. Her book for children pAlAbrAs brAncAs, (wHiTe woRDs) was awarded the Xosé Neira Vilas Children’s Literature Prize in 2008.

Manuel Rivas, Monte Alto, A Coruña, is a multi-award winning poet, novelist and             journalist.

Daniel Salgado has published ten collections to date, the most recent, Os paxaros e outros poemas (Birds and Other Poems) (Xerais), was published in 2021. He has translated the works of Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti into Galician and co-authored journalistic political essays.

Jesús Castro Yáñez is an award-winning poet and performer. His translation of Anne Carson’s ‘The Anthropology of Water’ is forthcoming.

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