Jaime Saenz (1921-1986) is Bolivia’s leading writer of the 20th century. Prolific as poet, novelist, and non-fiction writer, his baroque, propulsive syntax and dedication to themes of death, alcoholism, and otherness make his poetry among the most idiosyncratic in the Spanish-speaking world.
Translated by Kit Schluter.
Praise for The Cold:
Kit Schluter’s translation of Jaime Saenz’s The Cold gives Anglophone readers an extraordinarily luminous vision of one of Bolivia’s most essential—and elusive—writers, as well as a powerful and distinctive complement to Gander and Johnson’s Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jaime Saenz (2002). Part translation, part intimate address from translator to author,The Cold embodies what Schluter calls “the parallax inhabited” between the I and the you. Reflecting Saenz’s affinity with German Romanticism, Schluter’s afterword plunges us into the evanescent relationship between two forms of being which have been divided that they may yearn for their union. It is a work of desperate—perhaps impossible—lyricism, a work, as Charles Olson might have said, that is uncannily “equal…to the real itself.”
—Cole Heinowitz, co-translator of Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic, by Mario Santiago Papasquiaro (Wave Books, 2013)
The poetic environment of Jaime Saenz is the frigid cold, the rediscovered dynamism of language, and the beautiful abyss that always moves and swells in the shadows, phantom and mystical and blue and magnificent. How do I even articulate the feelings that surge through me when I read these poems? Reverie is hardly an adequate word. Kit Schluter’s translations of these poems have probably destroyed me more than once, given me hope more than once, and have often been my companion in the late night rain with a glass of whiskey, missing and sensing the entire world, reconciling the complicated and persistent nature of feelings, and learning to find beauty in the breath of a broken heart. Absolutely and necessarily devastating. Absolutely and irrevocably beautiful.
—Janice Lee, executive editor of Entropy and author of Damnation
This is typical Saenz; achingly, ravishingly bleak, and infinitely more thought-provoking alongside Schluter’s layered commentary.