THE LAST BOOKS OF HÉCTOR VIEL TEMPERLEY
Translated by Stuart Krimko
December 10, 2011
In his final two books, Héctor Viel Temperley sought to create a complete world, a surreal realm of profound spirituality that would be attained through intensely physical experience. In “Crawl,” the first of two book-length poems included here, a swimmer pulls his body alongside an urban coast, pounded by thunderstorms. His determined strokes establish the rhythm for an ecstatic meditation upon spirit and flesh, a tireless quest for secrets located “between the eye that trembles / and the eye of the abyss.” Viel Temperley’s pursuit would take on even greater urgency in “Hospital Británico,” written as the poet recovered from brain surgery, and named for the facility in which he was treated. This final, kaleidoscopic opus is a radical and literal recreation of his life’s work, a “version” of his present embedded by “splinters” from his past—boxers, pimps, sailors, sharks, and swimmers—that crests toward the future with the inexorable power of prayer.
With an introduction by translator Stuart Krimko, and Viel Temperley’s sole published interview (with filmmaker and author Sergio Bizzio), this bilingual edition introduces the English-speaking public to one of Argentina’s most original and elusive poets.
HÉCTOR VIEL TEMPERLEY was born in Buenos Aires in 1933 and died there in 1987. He was the author of nine collections of poetry, including The Swimmer, Nautical Chart, and Foreign Legion. Though he did not give readings and his books were often published in limited editions, Viel Temperley has become recognized in the Argentine literary community as one of the singular poets of his generation. He is perhaps best known for the spiritual intensity and unusual formal structures that characterize his final two books, Crawl and Hospital Británico.
Translator STUART KRIMKO is the author of three collections of poetry, including The Sweetness of Herbert (Sand Paper Press, 2009) and Hymns and Essays (Mal-O-Mar, 2012).
“Stuart Krimko’s translation into English beautifully reproduces [Viel Temperley's] rhythmic reverberations … and maintains, with an awe-inspiring precision, the lyric potency of the Spanish originals.”
“It’s rare to read anything that so totally perceives the book and body as recipes for each other, the connection between the serial and the infinite as so intimate.”
“With the original Spanish poems and their English versions facing each other on each page, the book works on the reader like a shocking, non-symmetrical butterfly would on the eyes—two wings suggesting symmetry, but still evading it, evoking the beauty as well as the impossibility of translation’s task.”
—International Poetry Library of San Francisco