Winner, Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation (UK)
The Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, magisterially translated into English by Randall Couch, is not only hair-raising, she took the top of my head off. The voices of her Madwomen, her Locas mujeres, in their austerity and eerily controlled emotion, now made available in English, strike me as something both new and permanent. An instant classic. --Stephen Romer, Popescu Prize announcement
Runner-up, PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
Randall Couch has performed a remarkable task of editorial spadework, gathering a coherent set of Gabriela Mistral's last poems from various sources and creating an informed context that enables an appreciative reading. He has thus renewed the afterlife of a modern Chilean poet who, despite her status as a Nobel Laureate, remains on the fringes of the canon of Spanish poetries in English. It is Couch's sensitive translations, however, that play the most decisive role in this renewal: he has transformed the challenging Spanish texts into English poems characterized by resonant diction and forceful rhythms, effectively recreating Mistral's impassioned imagery and complex metrics. --Lawrence Venuti, PEN award citation
A schoolteacher whose poetry catapulted her to early fame in her native Chile and an international diplomat whose boundary-defying sexuality still challenges scholars, Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) is one of the most important and enigmatic figures in Latin American literature of the last century. The Locas mujeres poems collected here are among Mistral's most complex and compelling, exploring facets of the self in extremis--poems marked by the wound of blazing catastrophe and its aftermath of mourning.
From disquieting humor to ballad-like lyricism to folkloric wisdom, these pieces enact a tragic sense of life, depicting "madwomen" who are anything but mad. Strong and intensely human, Mistral's poetic women confront impossible situations to which no sane response exists. This groundbreaking collection presents poems from Mistral's final published volume as well as new editions of posthumous work, featuring the first English-language appearance of many essential poems. Madwomen promises to reveal a profound poet to a new generation of Anglophone readers while reacquainting Spanish readers with a stranger, more complicated "madwoman" than most have ever known.