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The Cosmogony of Translation: Translating Yaxkin Melchy's Los Planetas

Alice Rose Whitmore[1], School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University



Yaxkin Melchy is a young self-published Mexican poet and founding member of the Red de los poetas salvajes [Savage poets' network], an online community of emerging poets and artists based in Mexico City. This article reflects on the process of translating Melchy's most recent book of poetry Los Planetas [The Planets], published in 2012. It concludes with a sample of four translated poems.

Melchy's work is remarkable for many reasons. Its online context allows for the inclusion of large-scale visual artwork alongside the poetry, as well as active links to videos and other media, and provides unique opportunities for reader interactivity. The poetry also possesses a significant degree of wordplay and intertextuality, combining innovative and novel language use with smatterings of scientific jargon, hypnagogic space fantasies, and a metaliterary penchant for self-reflection. The result is a bizarre and scathing critique of hypermodern society; a truly unique cosmos populated by aliens, angels, dinosaurs, poets and dictators.

Keywords: Translation studies, poetry translation, Mexico, alienation, surrealism, cyberspace.


They say back then our universe was an empty sea
Until a silver fox and her cunning mate
Began to sing a song that became the world we know
(Bjork, 'Cosmogony')

Creation = decomposition
Perhaps there was no Big Bang
(Yaxkin Melchy, 'Los Planetas')

Figure 1: El Nuevo Mundo III

Figure 1: El Nuevo Mundo III (Source: Los Planetas)


This article discusses the translation of a book of poetry entitled Los Planetas [The Planets] (2012), authored by young Mexican poet Yaxkin Melchy Ramos. It is divided conceptually into four parts: an introduction to the poet and his work; a methodological discussion of the translation process, focusing on the challenges imposed by musicality, wordplay and style; a theoretical overview of the foreignising ethic applied throughout my translation of Los Planetas; and, finally, a selection of four poems taken from the translation itself.

Yaxkin Melchy is an active member of the Mexican poetry scene, publishing his vast body of work online in collaboration with nascent publishing company Proyecto Literal. He represents a promising new generation of Mexican poets; a group of talented, prolific young writers and artists who are breathing new life into the Spanish-speaking avant-garde community. With its illuminating glimpses of dystopian, twenty-first century urbanism, Los Planetas is an excellent representation of the kind of progressive poetry being produced in Mexico today. My hope is that, through translation, the emerging voices of Mexican poetry will resonate with a new and wider readership.

In translating Melchy's work into English, I have been guided by several objectives. First, I have aimed to transfer not only the semantic meaning of the poems but also their aesthetic meaning. As the semantic readings of poetry are multiple and subjective, the competent poetry translator must cultivate an elaborate understanding of the poems' underlying complexity and intertextuality. In the case of Los Planetas, this has entailed a detailed analysis of the context within which Melchy and his poems operate, and a scrupulous investigation of the references - both apparent and abstruse - that riddle his text. On certain occasions, this has meant seeking the explanations and guidance of the author himself, with whom I have been in contact throughout the translation process. Capturing the poetry's unique aesthetic quality has proven considerably more difficult. A poem's physical and aural form - its structure, rhythms, rhymes and cadences - is just as vital as the semantic meaning of its constituent words. In seeking the best possible aesthetic translation of Melchy's poetry, I have found guidance among a diverse range of methodological and theoretical frameworks, from the testimonies of acclaimed literary translators to the theories of philosophers, poets and translation studies scholars.

Secondly, I have sought to create a collection of poems which are not only adequate representations of their source texts but which also possess a literary quality comparable to that of the originals. My research into the practical and theoretical art of poetry translation has brought me into contact with multiple converging streams of thought, most of which agree that the translator's task involves an active (re)writing of the source text. I subscribe to the view that translation is much more than a mere act of passive recoding; rather, it is a transformative act, an act of creation, resulting in an entirely new - yet not incongruous - literary cosmos. While I do not intend to mask the fact that my poems are indeed translations, I do hope that they will make for engaging reading on their own merits.

A third key objective of this translation project has been the pursuit of a foreignising translation ethic (see Venuti, 1998; 2008). I have endeavoured, within the limits of readability and comprehension, to retain a certain sense of Otherness that I consider fundamental to Melchy's poetry. The foreignness of Los Planetas is twofold: first, this is a collection of poems written in and about Mexico, by a resolutely Mexican poet; second, it is a book that plunges the reader into a surreal, alien universe of the author's own creation, bound to estrange even the most erudite Hispanophile. A genuine appreciation of Los Planetas in its original form requiresan intimate familiarity with the foreign context of Melchy's work, including Mexico's rich cultural patrimony and distinct sociopolitical climate. Many of the poetry's references to people, products and places will be unfamiliar to the majority of Anglophone readers. One of my tasks as a translator has been to make that implicit knowledge accessible without compromising the text's essential and multifaceted foreignness. I have therefore avoided the implementation of domesticating translation strategies, aiming instead to retain an element of alienation and strangeness in my translations.

The four poems that conclude this article constitute a brief but exemplary taste of Melchy's work, revealing the central themes and poetic devices that make Los Planetas such a stylistically unique text. This is the first English translation of Melchy's poetry to be completed to date, and as Melchy is a little-known writer it is targeted not at a scholarly audience but at a general Anglophone readership. While I have avoided tailoring cultural references and language use to any one Anglophone culture, I have given preference to British orthographic norms throughout.

The Poet

Figure 2: Yaxkin Melchy

Figure 2: Yaxkin Melchy (Source: Los Planetas)

Born in Mexico City in 1985, Melchy studied Industrial Design before embarking on his current studies in Letras Hispánicas at the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). In 2009 he won the Premio Nacional de Poesía Joven Elías Nandino [Elías Nandino Prize for Young Poetry] with his book Los poemas que vi por un telescopio [The poems I saw through a telescope]. His other books of poetry include Ciudades electrodomésticas [Electrodomestic cities], Las pequeñas galaxias [The small galaxies], Cometas, nómadas del espacio [Comets, space nomads], El Nuevo Mundo [The New World], El Sol Verde [The Green Sun] and Los Planetas. These last three books form a trilogy, of which Los Planetas is, in Melchy's own words, 'el tercer libro, o nave [the third book, or ship].'[2] Melchy is also a founding member of the Red de los poetas salvajes [Savage poets' network], a community of emerging poets and artists who publish and share their work online.[3] Deriving inspiration from the bohemian characters of Roberto Bolaño's semi-eponymous novel Los Detectives Salvajes [The Savage Detectives](1998), the Red began as a small-scale blog and eventually transmogrified into a vast online portal of poetry, books and emerging literary movements.

Melchy takes a decidedly self-reflective approach to his relationship with the internet. Indeed, technology and the incorporation of modern communication media into the realm of art and poetry is one of the major recurring themes in his work. Melchy in fact dedicates several poems to the topic, in a section of Los Planetas entitled Electrónico-Poética [Electronic-Poetics]. The online medium, he suggests, brings with it a new element of immediacy and innovation, mingling 'los viejos misterios de la palabra [the old mysteries of the word]' with 'nuevas maneras de percibirlos [new ways of perceiving them]' (Melchy, 2012: 100). For him, online publication is more than a means of minimising costs and circumventing the restrictions of the commercial publishing industry. Rather, as he notes in Electrónico-Poética, it offers a way to break away from 'la monotonía literaria [literary monotony]', permitting access to 'una forma de crear más propia de este movimiento [a form of creation that belongs more fully to this movement]' (Melchy, 2012: 100). The dynamism and heterogeneity of the internet make it the perfect vehicle for the sort of eclectic, innovative artwork that Melchy and his fellow 'poetas salvajes' create.

Aside from the focus on technology and online writing, Melchy's poetry displays a significant degree of intertextuality and complexity of language. As the title suggests, Los Planetas contains strong recurring themes of astronomy, space-fiction and metaphysics. There are several references to theoretical physicists and philosophers, and scientific or mathematical terminology is often woven into the fabric of the poetry. In one of his emails, Melchy describes himself as 'un espíritu científico, un niño maravillado [a scientific spirit, a wonder-struck child]', and his poetry is indeed a remarkable collage of juvenile fantasies and sophisticated scientific jargon. As a translator, I have had firstly to unravel and comprehend this language, identifying the concepts and people to which it alludes, before attempting to communicate it in English. Discovering the origins, concepts and images behind terminology such as Orgone, CH (methylidyne), helicoidal, fractal, bucles temporales [time loops], Dirac, and élan allowed me to deepen my intellectual grasp of Melchy's unfamiliar themes and stylistic idiosyncrasies, and consequently render them more accurately in my own tongue. That said, I have generally not attempted to demystify Melchy's complicated vocabulary, leaving his references more or less as opaque as they are in the original. Melchy also dedicates many of his poems to friends and contemporaries, and his writing frequently verges on the metaliterary with its self-reflective themes and explicit references to other poets and artists. Among the well-known figures populating his work we find Herman Hesse, Adolf Hitler, Edith Piaf, Mercedes Sosa, Ravi Shankar and Cleopatra, as well as a host of great poets including Bolaño, Neruda, Héctor Hernández and Juan Luis Martínez.

Another crucial element of Melchy's poetry is its undercurrent of social criticism. The Mexico of Los Planetas is a kind of cybergenetic dystopia, ravaged by modernity and capitalist debauchery. Indeed, Mexico's recent history is a chaotic mélange of unbridled consumerism, astonishing violence and deeply entrenched political corruption (Sosa Elízaga, 2002). Melchy articulates the disenchantment of a generation born and raised in that confusing social climate. 'La ciudad de México / es mi Tokio del Tercer mundo [Mexico City / is my Third World Tokyo]', he writes (Melchy, 2012: 85), a place where poverty and frivolity co-exist, where hypermodernity is inextricable from waste and decay. This said, his poetry is far from defeatist. The cosmos that Melchy has created is one in which poets rewrite entire constellations, where universes decompose and are rebuilt by human consciousness, where books are as big as houses - indeed, as big as planets - and time is distorted to the point of losing all meaning.

To an extent, then, Los Planetas is a form of surrealist escapism, a hallucinatory journey into outer (cyber)space. It is also much more than this, however. Poetry, Melchy explains in his emails, has become unnecessary in modern times, a peripheral art form disregarded by many as convoluted and bizarre. Art and literature now tend to spring from inessential creative desires, rather than from necessity. 'El deseo hace escritores, poetas, premios nobel,' he remarks, 'pero la necesidad es lo que hace que un niño escriba en su cuaderno en la escuela [Desire creates writers, poets, Nobel laureates, but necessity is what compels a child to write stories in his schoolbooks]' (Personal email, 17 November 2012). Melchy's own writing is an attempt to capture that childlike urgency, to recognise 'lo otro maravilloso, y misterioso que nos rodea [the marvellous, mysterious Other that surrounds us]' and to invade everyday language 'de animales, plantas o robots [with animals, plants, robots]' (17 November 2012). In this sense, poetry is also a form of resistance in a society where ignorance and apathy reign: 'Escribir poesía,' Melchy writes in Los Planetas, 'es como salir a las calles a marchar, pero las calles están dentro de nosotros en nuestra mente y en el corazón [Writing poetry is like taking to the streets in protest, but the streets are inside us and in our heads and in our hearts]' (Melchy, 2012: 102). For Melchy, poetry holds the key to comprehending, expressing and remedying our social discontent. It is a mechanism of innovation and renewal, both artistic and political; 'una constelación de papalotes aterrizados por las urbes / aterrizaje forzoso de este país en tiempo de crisis / contra las balaceras y las masacres / un arma de destrucción de lo viejo y caduco / de regeneración [a constellation of kites landing on the metropolis / this country's forced landing in times of crisis / against the shootings and massacres / a weapon of destruction against the old and outdated / of regeneration]' (Melchy, 2012: 88). Los Planetas reminds us that poetry, in all its forms, is what keeps us from the brink of self-destruction or utter de-humanisation. For Melchy, the creative flame within us all is what constitutes our humanity and our indefatigable freedom. While it burns, all is not lost.

The Translation Process

If translation is - as I believe - another manifestation of this creative 'weapon of regeneration', then the poetry translator must strive for two simultaneous objectives: she must create both a loyal translation and a quality work of poetry. She must take into account not only the semantic meaning of the poems entrusted to her but also their aesthetic meaning. As mentioned earlier, this duality has been central to my methodological and ethical approaches to Los Planetas. It is also a concept hinted at by Paul Valéry in his 1953 essay 'Variations sur Les Bucoliques' [Variations on the Eclogues]. Poetry reduced to 'simple meaning,' Valéry wrote, becomes 'literally nonexistent', for it is no longer recognisable as poetry (Valéry, 1992: 116). In other words, rendering a poem's semantic meaning at the expense of its aesthetic meaning implies the loss of something fundamental; not necessarily some mystical and ineffable poetic essence, but some aesthetic quality that undeniably affects the reader's experience of that poem.

The transposition of poetry's intrinsic musicality has always posed a challenge to translation. Indeed, the gravity of these challenges has contributed substantially to the long tradition of pessimistic discourse surrounding poetry translation. Dante, for example, once declared that 'nothing harmonised by a musical bond can be transmuted from its own speech without losing all its sweetness and harmony' (Alighieri, 2005: 10). I disagree. While I admit that a poem's 'sweetness and harmony' can never hope to be rendered identically, I cannot accept that a poem's beauty is utterly destroyed by the act of translation. If careful attention is given to comprehending the aesthetic qualities of the original, then there is no reason why comparable qualities cannot be achieved in translation.

This has certainly been my aim in translating Los Planetas. As well as capturing meaning, I have sought to recreate a certain aesthetic experience that I feel is unique to Melchy's writing. The phonetic aspect of his poetry has been a chief concern in this regard. Melchy, like Valéry, draws clear parallels between music and poetry: 'Estoy componiendo barro,' he writes in the opening line of Los Planetas, 'y la orquestra sinfónica del prólogo [I am composing mud / and the symphony orchestra of the prelude]' (Melchy, 2012: 23). Although Melchy's poems conform neither to rhyme nor to any strict poetic metre, they nevertheless possess a distinct musicality and resonate powerfully when spoken aloud.[4] The eclectic style and structure of his work - at times rambling, repetitive streams of consciousness, at times reminiscent of children's word games - certainly lend themselves to the aural medium. Spoken aloud, Melchy's intricate, alliteration-rich language takes on a discordant, staccato quality that emphasises the poems' frenetic and heterogeneous content. Melchy's carefully chaotic, often unexpected word pairings also lend the poems a subtle structural coherence, which I have attempted to preserve in my translation.

Certain difficulties naturally arise when translating a language like Spanish - so readily adaptable to rhythm and rhyme - into English. That said, during the initial translation process I often stumbled upon fortuitous musical coincidences. For example, the following lines translated rather pleasantly:

de trombones de tripitas de tacos
(Melchy, 2012: 38)

mi oración mi ración
(Melchy, 2012: 30)

like trombones like tripe tacos

my prayer my share

Where Spanish and English words shared a common ancestor, translation was also made much easier. An example is the line:

político prolífico pontificio
(Melchy, 2010: 25; see Appendices A and B, part I, line 55)
political prolifical pontifical

Much more difficult passages emerged upon revision of the original gloss translation. While the initial translation process focused on capturing some kind of sense to the poems, attention to the musicality and rhythm of specific lines revealed the need for significant changes. One striking example appears in the book's opening poem. The stanza reads

entreverados por la primavera
varados en el verso
versados en lo que primeramente nace como un signo de interrogación que crece con la lluvia
(Melchy, 2012: 26-27; see Appendices A and B, part I, lines 94-98)
interspersed by spring
deserted in the verse
versed in what is first born as a question mark that grows with the rain

Difficult elements in this passage include the invented word arreversado, the repetition of the letter v and the sound -a dos, the emphatic sense of the word primeramente (akin to using first of all instead of first), and the relationship between the words verso and versados. The replacement of one neologism with another was simple enough, as was preserving the relationship between verse and versed. The real challenge lay in reproducing the rhythmic alliteration of the original. Despite preferring streaked with spring to interspersed by spring, and stranded in the verse to deserted in the verse, I eventually opted to prioritise the sound of the whole stanza over my partiality for individual words.

Reading the stanza aloud several times, and paying close attention to the intrinsic patterns, rhythms and aural motifs formed by Melchy's language, prompted this decision. Many acclaimed poetry translators admit to employing similar methods in the translation and revision of their work. Edith Grossman, who has written extensively on the subject, describes her (re)creative process as one of aural repetition, focusing on the poem's spoken cadences rather than its formal structure. 'I begin,' she writes, by 'reading the lines aloud, over and over again, until the Spanish patterns have been internalised and I can start to hear in my mind's ear the rhythms of a preliminary English version' (Grossman, 2010: 99). Margaret Sayers Peden, translator of Isabel Allende and Juan Rulfo, describes her method in equally musical terms, claiming to listen to 'the way the poem is sung' (Sayers Peden, 1987: 9). For Valéry, the aesthetic quality of spoken verse is paramount: a poem, he writes, 'is both a succession of syllables and a combination of words; and just as the latter ought to form a probable meaning, so the succession of syllables ought to form for the ear a kind of audible shape which, with a special and as it were peculiar compulsion, should impress itself simultaneously on both voice and memory' (Valéry, 1992: 113). Certainly, listening to a poem's living, audible pulse reveals latent rhythms and 'deep-rooted tempos' within even the most prosaic verse (Grossman, 2010: 99). By listening to that pulse, I have aimed to compose in my own tongue something akin to Melchy's strange and discordant symphony.

Translating Strangeness

Translation is not a purely aesthetic process, however. As well as an act of cultural and artistic significance, translation is an inherently ethical act. In bringing the foreign cosmos of Los Planetas to a new readership, I have given deep consideration to the significance - both ethical and aesthetic - of the text's unique and bold brand of strangeness. The role of the translator, as Grossman notes, is to unite the disparate worlds of the reader and the Other; to serve 'as a living bridge between two realms of discourse, two realms of experience, and two sets of readers' (Grossman 2010: 75). Bridging worlds, however, does not equate to converging worlds, just as making difference accessible does not equate to effacing difference. With this in mind, I have approached the translation of Melchy's work from a deliberately foreignising perspective. As will become clear with the examples that follow, I have avoided familiarising certain linguistic, cultural and stylistic elements of the text in order to retain something of its alien quality.

The key dichotomy behind the concepts I refer to as 'foreignisation' and 'domestication'[5] was signalled by Schleiermacher in his iconic 1813 treatise 'Methoden des Übersetzens' [On the Different Methods of Translating]. Schleiermacher declared that there were only two possible methods of translation: 'Either the translator leaves the writer alone as much as possible and moves the reader toward the writer, or he leaves the reader alone as much as possible and moves the writer toward the reader' (Schleiermacher, 1992: 42). The former method (Verfremdung), advocated by Schleiermacher himself, involves retaining a certain sense of foreignness in the translated text. Rather than naturalising the inherent strangeness of the original, foreignisation implies 'sending the reader abroad' (Venuti, 2008: 15), thus transforming the reading experience into one of alienation.

Over the past five decades, Schleiermacher's dichotomy has been redefined, reformulated and renamed by a host of different translation theorists. It is not my intention to explore all of their related theories in depth. Rather, I aim to describe foreignisation in the most uncontroversial terms possible, in order to trace the concept's relationship with other aesthetic and theoretical frameworks. In any case, whether we refer to the foreignising (verfremdend) approach as 'overt' (House, 1997: 66-69), 'documentary' (Nord, 1997: 45-52), 'anti-illusory' (Levý, 1969: 32), or 'resistant' translation (Venuti, 2008), the underlying notion is essentially the same. A foreignising translation, simply put, is one that is marked as a translation. It typically involves the adoption of a non-fluent, alienating or heterogeneous translation style in order to make the translator visible. Domestication, in contrast, involves translating in a transparent, fluent style in order to minimise the foreignness of the target text. (Munday, 2012: 218-19).

Significantly, foreignising translations do not attempt to conceal the foreign identity of the source text. This idea has been defended by a diverse range of thinkers throughout history. Heidegger, who studied and translated the pre-Socratic philosophers, pursued a 'poetising' strategy riddled with archaisms, thus doing 'violence' to everyday language and thwarting the expectations of his readers (Heidegger, 1975: 19). Nabokov, for his part, reviled the 'evil' of domesticated, paraphrastic translations that 'conform to the notions and prejudices of a given public' (Nabokov, 1941: 160). Like Schleiermacher, both Heidegger and Nabokov believed in leaving the author in peace as much as possible, thereby forcing the reader to forge their own approach to the text, to strive for understanding, and to grapple with the text' s intrinsic foreignness. Both felt that the aim of translation should not be to disguise its product as an original text crafted in the target language, but rather to make visible its relationship with foreign source text.

In his 1971 essay 'Traduccion: Literatura y Literalidad' [Translation: Literature and Letters] Octavio Paz commented that, with the coming of colonialism and the 'modern age', there came a decisive realisation of the 'inexorable foreignness' of the Other. This was reflected, he thought, by a shift in the focus and objective of translation:

La traducción [...] ya no es una operación tendiente a mostrar la identidad última de los hombres, sino que es el vehículo de sus singularidades. Su función había consistido en mostrar las semejanzas por encima de las diferencias; de ahora en adelante manifiesta que estas diferencias son infranqueables, trátese de la extrañeza del salvaje o de la de nuestro vecino.

[Translation [...] was no longer an effort to illustrate the ultimate sameness of men; it became a vehicle to expose their individualities. Translation had once served to reveal the preponderance of similarities over differences; from this time forward translation would serve to illustrate the irreconcilability of differences, whether these stem from the foreignness of the savage or of our neighbour]
(Paz, 1971: 153).

The savage, alien universe of Los Planetas is marked by a distinct surrealistic strangeness, which Melchy conjures through his eccentric use of imagery, neologism, intertextuality and heterogeneous language. The poetry's setting, too, is a fundamental aspect of its foreignness; for the modern Western reader, Melchy's Mexico is the domain of the Other, a place at once feared and exoticised, both desired and dominated by the neocolonialist forces of capitalism. In bringing that foreign place to the Anglophone reader, I sought to retain, rather than efface, its Otherness. In the words of Venuti, foreignisation involves 'locating the alien in a cultural other' (Venuti, 2008:286), and Melchy's writing is alien in more than one sense: it is at once foreign (for the non-Mexican reader) and otherworldly, allowing us to view life on Earth from a strange and cosmic perspective.

In essence, foreignisation involves a conscious act of estrangement. Surrealism, which owes many of its theoretical foundations to Shklovsky's theory of defamiliarisation (Shklovsky, 1965), adheres to a similar precept. The aim of surrealist poetics, according to Anna Balakian, is to 'destroy the language stereotype, to emancipate the Word' (Balakian, 1986: 2) by employing language in a non-typical manner and 'creating strangeness in the commonplace' (Balakian, 1986: 9). As mentioned earlier, the poetry of Yaxkin Melchy possesses distinctly surrealistic qualities, although it derives inspiration from a range of avant-garde movements.[6] The cosmogony of Los Planetas - defined by its bizarre imagery, its unexpected and difficult language, and its meticulous distortion of science, space fantasy and language - involves the creation of a new universe and a new (sur)reality. Indeed, the cosmological themes within Melchy's poetry recall the immortal words of 'El Divino' Salvador Dalí, from a 1971 television interview with Mexican journalist Jacobo Zabludovsky: 'mi genio,' affirmed Dalí, '[se realiza] ni en la pintura, ni en el grabado, ni el la acuarela, ni el las joyas ni en las litografías, [sino] ¡en la cosmogonía! [my genius lies not in my paintings, nor in my films, my watercolours, my jewellery or my lithographs, but in my cosmogony!].' This notion of artistic 'cosmogony', Dalí elaborated, comprises 'una concepción del cosmos completamente original [a completely original conception of the cosmos]' (Dalí, 1971), an 'infinite expansion of reality' (Balakian, 1986: 14). Cosmogony thus constitutes a key objective of surrealism:

Acknowledging the human need for metaphysical release, the surrealists believed that through the exploration of the psyche [...] through the diverting of objects from their familiar functions or surroundings, through a more cosmic perspective of life on this earth, and finally through the alchemy of language that would learn to express this more dynamic reality, man might be able to satisfy his thirst for the absolute [emphasis added]
(Balakian, 1986: 14).

Poetry, the clearest example of the 'alchemy of language,' has always been central to surrealism. The enormity and immediacy of Melchy's work, along with its comprehensive distortion and redefinition of language, distances us from the tired truisms of the world we live in and expands our realm of consciousness to include unknown constellations and alien galaxies. For Melchy, language itself is an estranging force that allows us - indeed, forces us - to perceive the world differently.

If strangeness is fundamental to Los Planetas, then it must also be fundamental to its translation. Nevertheless, like all texts, Melchy's work is embedded in a specific cultural and social context, and certain concepts simply cannot be rendered into English without some degree of explanation or distortion. Supplementary techniques such as compensation, generalisation and explicitation often facilitate the translation of such concepts (Vinay and Darbelnet, 1995). For instance, while it is impossible to preserve all of a text's semantic and aesthetic nuances in translation, these inevitable 'losses' can sometimes be redeemed at other points in the text. When compensation is not possible, culture-specific concepts in the source text must occasionally be smuggled into translation under the blanket of a more general target-language term. Moreover, implicit cultural information in the source text often needs to be rendered explicit in the target text in order to achieve the translation's communicative objective. Poetry translation, however, requires a special degree of caution in this regard. Melchy's poetry is rife with ambiguity, and quite deliberately so. Indeed, as Umberto Eco has observed, ambiguity serves an important literary function, urging the reader to an interpretive effort and inciting her 'toward the discovery of an unexpected flexibility in [...] language' (Eco, 1979: 263). Doing away with ambiguity would replace that continuous 'flexibility' with a discrete, implacable meaning. As Melchy's translator, I do not consider it my task to set forth my own concrete interpretation of his work. I have therefore refrained from footnoting the more cryptic references that appear throughout the text of Los Planetas, and have been careful not to 'overtranslate' (Newmark, 1988: 284). Doing so would not only interrupt Melchy's rambling, chaotic style but also shed undue light upon the tenebrous textual labyrinth he has constructed. I have chosen only to demystify Melchy's language in instances where I felt that the terminology had an obvious and important cultural implication (in the contemporary Mexican context) that would almost certainly be ignored by Anglophone readers. One such example is the translation of the following passage:

desenterramos los huesitos junto a latas de refresco
pepsi perros
y perros sabritas
los dinosaurios del futuro
(Melchy, 2012: 51; see Appendices A and B, part IV, lines 9-13)
we unearth the little bones buried among soda cans
pepsi dogs
and sabritas dogs
will be
the dinosaurs of the future

There are several significant elements in this passage, the most salient being the term perros sabritas [sabritas dogs]. Sabritas, as every Mexican knows, is a popular brand of potato chips owned by US company Lays. In the context of Melchy's poem, the reference signals an awareness of the moral and environmental degeneracy implicit in modern consumer culture, which in Mexico's case is imported almost exclusively from the north. For Australian and British readers, however, the cultural reference is lost in the unfamiliar brand name. I therefore chose to render the phrase perros sabritas not as sabritas dogs butas doritos dogs. The well-known brand Doritos carries similar cultural connotations to Sabritas, and is recognised by both Anglophone and Mexican readers. Conveniently, both Doritos and Sabritas are owned by Lays, meaning that the loss of cultural significance is minimal. The translation of the term latas de refresco [soft drink cans] caused similar doubts. The term soft drink was a very localised option, likely to sound odd to anyone but an Australian reader. The natural Anglophone alternatives varied from country to country, and were equally unsatisfactory: sodapop sounded too American; Coke was too specific; and the British fizzy drink had always struck me as a tad puerile. I therefore decided to remain on neutral territory, translating the term simply as soda cans. Within the context of the stanza (and accompanied by the word pepsi), the meaning of the term seemed reasonably self-evident. More important than the reader's comprehension, in this instance, was my determination not to lapse into domesticating translation strategies by default.


The poems that follow are the result of much thinking and theorising, much research and much debate. They are firmly housed within the theoretical framework laid out above, and I have kept my methodological and ethical objectives in mind throughout the course of the translation process. That said, what matters above all is the practical outcome: whether or not those objectives, thoughts and theories are evident in the translations I have produced. As the saying goes: del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho: saying and doing are two different things. Given that translation is, in my view, a subjective act of (re)writing, it stands to reason that each and every (hypothetical) future translation of Melchy's work will diverge considerably from my own. This version - my version - is what it is by virtue of the key objectives that have oriented me in its construction. I have aimed not to render Melchy's poetry word by word, nor to domesticate and commodify it, but rather to capture and share its beautiful strangeness with the world, remaining - I hope - true to Melchy's spirit of online collaboration and constant artistic reinvigoration. In a sense, my rewriting of Melchy's cosmos has constituted an attempt to expand, rather than merely map, the universe he has created; it is an attempt to coalesce the primordial elements of Melchy's Big Bang into new stars and galaxies, into new planets, where new life may perhaps flourish.


All images and videos reproduced by kind permission of Yaxkin Melchy.

List of illustrations

Figure 1 El Nuevo Mundo III

Figure 2 Yaxkin Melchy


Appendix A: The Poems

Prelude to K-Pax

  1. I am composing mud
  2. and the symphony orchestra of the prelude

  3. I am going to write here inside myself because outside there lives a monster
  4. and this is my soul made of colours a paper and sulphur comet

  5. here at the bottom of the ocean
  6. ten thousand metres high in time
  7. where the tides toss and turn and it is past and future

  8. here where words are seated on thrones of black coral
  9. and the dark light divides itself and casts stripes and the light takes root

  10. where the luminous leaves unfurl and brand new texts are harvested
  11. and the angels
  12. and the jaguars stealth like star-universes that are also here
  13. concentrated in the galaxies
  14. in the creation of the mutant reversion
  15. an iron lever the heart encoded in blue violets

  16. and I paint reels of rainbow until I fall sleep in the rainbow
  17. I am composing mud and I am mud
  18. and the music is scattered through the pelagic depths
  19. like a cave of glow worms
  20. lilliput lilliput lilliput
  21. ha ha ha
  22. god is on the moon taking out his enormous planet's trash
  23. and I fish and I fish with my ears
  24. for loops of interminable time

  25. and I run and I run repeating discovering changing colour the
  26. televisions
  27. snails and wasps
  28. lemon trees and dragonflies

  29. I run and I run
  30. and the olympic games transform into olympic rings
  31. the hoops are in my nose and in my tongue
  32. I feel all continent all ocean all sky
  33. all republic of nylon flags

  34. hahaha
  35. pink socks
  36. words written backwards have a different colour flavour and breaking point

  37. tropical tropical heart
  38. boiling coffee in the circles under my eyes

  39. consumed poetry
  40. burning like infinity
  41. the infinite armchair of a dead man

  42. I run although I am an undergraduate and disloyal
  43. although my father is waiting for me drunk in the woods
  44. although my mother lives in a matchbox because outside
  45. everybody is burning

  46. although my sister is made of points outside her body
  47. because she is a drawing that has not joined nor been snatched from nor stitched to the fabrics of existence
  48. so
  49. because I am disloyal
  50. I know that the same poem can be rewritten eighteen times
  51. and the stars are stars eighteen times per minute
  52. naah it all falls under the same poem everything is flowing from the same
  53. poetic subject
  54. political prolifical pontifical

  55. the shinigamis bear crosses on their backs
  56. and video games are the dreams of the unborn
  57. those who were born recorded ufos or extraterrestrials
  58. they left a few silly crazy wonderful poems
  59. they died waiting
  60. for the sun to stick out its tongue
  61. for the clouds to burn and the sky to become a
  62. glass dictionary
  63. and the earth a blender of words

  64. I will not teach you anything
  65. nothing stemming from language to the militarisation of language
  66. learn with me in the pedagogy of letters that
  67. we send to the god of a thousand faces
  68. sometimes we must fill our hearts with fireflies
  69. and think like a river which is another way of being a firefly
  70. and feel like the volcano which is also a way of being a
  71. firefly

  72. tufts of broom
  73. clothes full of skin and skeletons
  74. gloves stuck together with wheat paste

  75. open lung and sock heart
  76. all filled with black seeds

  77. snot earth vomit and vinegar
  78. magic carpets horns and lunatic precision

  79. tide body thread vocation
  80. entangle the cities with immense lines of paint
  81. until a map is traced upon the map
  82. a textile map upon the concrete map

  83. ripple to the city like a flag upon the valley
  84. the constellation flag
  85. the Mars flag
  86. the foreskin flag
  87. the drum flag
  88. the breast flag
  89. chapped lip
  90. paralytic angels with a flower for a body
  91. epileptic angels with a flower for a head
  92. sanguine angels with blood instead of flowers instead of thoughts

  93. rereversed
  94. interspersed by spring
  95. deserted in verse
  96. versed in what is first born as a question
  97. mark that grows with the rain

  98. around white fish eaten by blue bats
  99. green foxes
  100. sporadically transparent boys

  101. antarctic appeals but appeals to the sun
  102. girls who fall from the sky to spray the
  103. equinox with their urine

  104. and make us believe the same thing make us believe that some day this
  105. stairway will lead us to hell
  106. ha ha ha
  107. nothing will bite us
  108. not modernity nor its tail
  109. not regret nor doubt
  110. the crosses of christ are wooden swords
  111. and we shatter the piñatas
  112. full of stars

  113. and I am composing my prosthumous mud
  114. out of the pristine tombs of dictionaries

  115. but I am replenishing cosmopolitism, strange extraterrestrial and stra-
  116. tospheric
  117. angelic and dragonic:
  118. deoxyribonucleic acid
  119. this is how a plant is born
  120. this is how a history gene is born
  121. from a seed where sleeps the flower inside
  122. my bones
  123. the grass that grows out of my eyes
  124. the green make of my sun
  125. the dead fabric of my fallen leaves

  126. that
  127. book
  128. that
  129. came
  130. from
  131. outer
  132. space
  133. asking
  134. me

  135. if...

  136. ha
  137. ha
  138. ha!

Willni, Kreit, Arthur and Augusto
although I am older than all of you
I feel like your little brother

  1. Drink all the love you can
  2. this poem is written between the mountains
  3. so small it can't be seen
  4. drink the Sun
  5. kick
  6. break
  7. every door
  8. (writing a poem in the wrong place
  9. is like closing your eyes
  10. and watching it gleam upon the paper)
  11. write with dreams
  12. everything that is above law and language
  13. for example
  14. CH
  15. does not exist
  16. except in other languages
  17. And this I know
  18. did not come from the stars
  19. but from the trees
  20. while I was walking through a desert
  21. and trees sprouted like fountains
  22. each tree anchored a beam of light
  23. which I know is a lightning bolt
  24. in the treeroot sky
  25. I am happy
  26. music or trembling
  27. of my hand upon my hand
  28. everything that I saw as stars
  29. were flying seeds
  30. and I am not yet a poet
  31. the desert erases time and time again
  32. mirages
  33. I reflect:
  34. to reflect is to touch one's toes
  35. and
  36. every one of my friends
  37. seated
  38. turned into a stone
  39. an orgone grenade:

  40. Dirac sea
  41. of my arms
  42. gorges sprout
  43. canyons
  44. or laughing rivers
  45. every friend
  46. is a broad back
  47. or a whirlpool of hair
  48. which we call friends
  49. which sink and sprout
  50. like tears of mud
  51. and what secret do they keep
  52. almost made of drizzle
  53. little fistfuls of dust
  54. and the broken gorge of a dream
  55. to dream
  56. to paddle
  57. to dream

  58. across the Milky Way
  59. which will gleam in the Earth's future:

  60. Galaxy of snow
  61. Galaxy of snow
  62. Crown our party

for Gerardo Grande

  1. Ravi Shankar went before Carlos Monsiváis
  2. and Roberto Bolaño before Julio Inverso

  3. the Third World War was before Enrique the star of the
  4. Fifth
  5. Neruda went before María Calas
  6. Cleopatra went, in both senses of the word, before and after Herman Hesse
  7. only a madman would board a ufo in order to understand earthlings
  8. the clouds buzz! but it's because hearts have wings and fill
  9. the sky with beehives
  10. this is a slogan the slogan is a verse and that's why they've crowned the
  11. Nobel Laureates in Literature
  12. jam promotion
  13. orange and dragonfly jam
  14. but all of that happens in an alternate universe

  15. I am all the music
  16. I am all the music without everything

  17. poet assassins
  18. our principle is the human comedy
  19. and it will end with the history of fishes

  20. my mama used to say that thirty days of straight conversation would yield
  21. one hundred and eleven cups of coffee and three emotionless books named
  22. the new world

  23. fiesta gravity
  24. my drunken Ship crashed against the wall
  25. the Amazon river went before the Mekong river

  26. fiesta gravity
  27. the balloons look like tropical dinosaur testicles
  28. move over I can't fit inside my reason at
  29. point blank range

  30. the ninjas descend! in their nearly shattered poems
  31. they fought all night
  32. and we began to fall sleep on top of the world

  33. it was obvious that the lottery numbers disappeared
  34. fiesta gravity parabolic karma
  35. the mind alone keeps dancing with the madwomen

  36. and Adolf returned when the speakers were bellowing
  37. when the metal flowers were crying in their rooms

  38. Hitler returned
  39. and the last one to leave was Hitler
  40. writing, for example:
  41. the night is starred with swastikas
  1. the notebook dogs died
  2. they disappeared from imagination

  3. ahead and outside my window there are hundreds of stray dogs
  4. that cannot find the entrances to the underworld
  5. streets filled with dogs
  6. cemeteries of marine dogs
  7. flying dogs
  8. and luminous dogs

  9. we unearth the little bones buried among soda cans
  10. pepsi dogs
  11. and doritos dogs
  12. will be
  13. the dinosaurs of the future

  14. I close my eyes
  15. the eyelids are hard like metallic leaves
  16. and the bilz pap pop music can't sleep

  17. I turn on my personal reality show:
  18. I am dancing with the dogs that went to heaven
  19. and the fat sun overhead
  20. melting us like a lump of butter

  21. the dogs have currants in their ears
  22. like santa claus earrings
  23. and they pull a sleigh of milk
  24. atop the buildings

  25. where will they go?
  26. from one side of the equator to the other
  27. which is a very broad street
  28. with no cardinal points
  29. and no future

Appendix B: source text


Prólogo a K-Pax

  1. estoy componiendo barro
  2. y la orquesta sinfónica del prólogo

  3. aquí dentro de mí voy a escribir porque afuera vive un monstruo
  4. y esta es mi alma hecha de colores un cometa de papel y azufre

  5. aquí en el fondo del océano
  6. a diez mil metros de altura en los tiempos
  7. donde se revuelven las mareas y es pasado y futuro

  8. aquí donde la palabra está sentada en un trono de corales negros
  9. y la luz oscura se parcela y hace rayas y se planta la luz

  10. donde las hojas luminosas se abren y se cosechan los textos inauditos
  11. y los ángeles
  12. y los jaguares sigilan como astros-universos que también están aquí
  13. concentrados en las galaxias
  14. en la creación de la reversión mutante
  15. una palanca de hierro el corazón cifrado en violetas azules

  16. y pinto rollos de arcoiris hasta que duermo en el arcoiris
  17. estoy componiendo barro y soy de barro
  18. y la música está desperdigada por toda la profundidad pelágica
  19. como una caverna de gusanos luminosos

  20. liliput liliput liliput
  21. ja ja ja
  22. dios está en la luna tirando la basura de su enorme planeta
  23. y yo pesco y yo pesco con los oídos
  24. los bucles del tiempo interminable

  25. y corro y corro repitiendo descubriendo cambiando de color las
  26. televisiones
  27. caracoles y avispas
  28. limoneros y libélulas

  29. corro y corro
  30. y los juegos olímpicos se trasforman en cadenas olímpicas
  31. los aros están en mi nariz y en mi lengua
  32. me siento todo continente todo océano todo cielo
  33. todo república de banderas de nylon
  34. jajaja
  35. calcetines rosas
  36. toda palabra al revés tiene otro color sabor y punto de quiebre

  37. corazón tropical tropicalísimo
  38. hirviendo café en las ojeras de mi rostro

  39. poesía consumida
  40. quemándote como el sinfín
  41. el sinfín sillón de un muerto

  42. corro aunque soy universitario y desleal
  43. aunque mi padre está en el bosque esperándome borracho
  44. y aunque mi madre vive en una caja de cerillos porque afuera
  45. todos se queman

  46. aunque mi hermana es de puntos alrededor de su cuerpo
  47. porque es un dibujo que no se ha unido ni arrebatado ni cosido a las
  48. telas de la existencia
  49. así
  50. porque soy desleal
  51. sé que se puede reescribir dieciocho veces el mismo poema
  52. y las estrellas son dieciocho veces estrellas por minuto
  53. naa está bajo el mismo poema todo está chorreando del mismo
  54. sujeto poético
  55. político prolífico pontificio

  56. los shinigamis llevan cruces a la espalda
  57. y los videos virtuales son los sueños de los que aún no nacen
  58. los que ya nacieron grabaron ovnis o extraterrestres
  59. dejaron algunos poemas tontos locos alucinantes
  60. se han muerto esperando
  61. a ver que el sol saque la lengua
  62. que las nubes se quemen y el cielo se convierta en un diccionario
  63. de cristal
  64. y la tierra en una licuadora de palabras

  65. no les daré ninguna clase a ustedes
  66. nada que provenga del lenguaje a la militarización del lenguaje

  67. instrúyanse conmigo en la pedagogía de las cartas que
  68. mandamos al dios de mil rostros
  69. a veces hay que llenar el corazón de luciérnagas
  70. y pensar como un río que es otra forma de ser luciérnaga
  71. y sentir como el volcán que también es una forma de ser
  72. luciérnaga

  73. penachos de escoba
  74. ropa llena de piel y esqueletos
  75. guantes pegados con engrudo

  76. pulmón abierto y corazón calcetín
  77. todo relleno con semillas negras

  78. moco tierra vómito y vinagre
  79. alfombras mágicas cuernos y precisión lunática

  80. marea cuerpo vocación de hilo
  81. enredar las ciudades con inmensas líneas de pintura
  82. hasta trazar un mapa sobre el mapa
  83. un mapa textil sobre el mapa de lo concreto

  84. ondear la ciudad como bandera sobre el valle
  85. la bandera constelación
  86. la bandera Marte
  87. la bandera prepucio
  88. la banderola tambor
  89. la bandera seno
  90. labio partido

  91. ángeles paralíticos con una flor en vez de cuerpo
  92. ángeles epilépticos con una flor en vez de cabeza
  93. ángeles sanguíneos con sangre en vez de flores en vez de pensamientos

  94. arreversados
  95. entreverados por la primavera
  96. varados en el verso
  97. versados en lo que primeramente nace como un signo de
  98. interrogación que crece con la lluvia

  99. alrededor de peces blancos comidos por murciélagos azules
  100. zorros verdes
  101. muchachos esporádicamente transparentes

  102. llamados antárticos pero llamados al sol
  103. muchachas que caen del cielo para rociar con sus orines el
  104. equinoccio
  105. y hacernos creer lo mismo que hacernos crecer que algún día esta
  106. escalera llegará al infierno
  107. ja ja ja
  108. nada podrá mordernos
  109. ni la modernidad ni su cola
  110. ni los remordimientos ni la culpa
  111. las cruces del cristo son espadas de madera
  112. y rompemos las piñatas
  113. repletas de estrellas

  114. y estoy componiendo mi próstumo de barro
  115. el prístino sepulcro de los diccionarios

  116. pero estoy reponiendo cosmopolitismo extraño extraterrestre y estra-
  117. tosférico
  118. angelical y dragónico:
  119. ácido desoxirribonucleico
  120. así nace una planta
  121. así se crea un gen de la historia
  122. de una semilla donde está dormida la flor que soy por adentro de
  123. los huesos
  124. la yerba que soy por los ojos hacia fuera
  125. la hechura verde de mi sol
  126. la tela muerta de mi hojarasca

  127. ese
  128. libro
  129. que
  130. vino
  131. del
  132. espacio
  133. exterior
  134. preguntando
  135. me

  136. si…

  137. ja
  138. ja
  139. já!

Willni, Kreit, Arthur y Augusto
aunque yo soy el mayor de los cuatro
me siento su hermano menor

  1. Beban todo el amor posible
  2. este poema está escrito entre las montañas
  3. tan pequeño que no lo ven
  4. beban del Sol
  5. pateen
  6. rompan
  7. cada puerta
  8. (escribir un poema en el lugar equivocado
  9. equivale a cerrar los ojos
  10. y verlo resplandecer sobre el papel)
  11. escriban con sueños
  12. todo lo que está fuera de la ley del lenguaje
  13. por ejemplo
  14. la CH
  15. no existe
  16. sino en otra lengua
  17. Y esto que sé
  18. no vino de las estrellas
  19. sino de los árboles
  20. mientras caminaba por un desierto
  21. y los árboles brotaban como fuentes
  22. cada árbol amarraba un rayo
  23. lo que sé es un relámpago
  24. en el cielo de raíces
  25. Estoy contento
  26. música o temblor
  27. de mi mano sobre mi mano
  28. todo lo que vi como estrellas
  29. eran semillas voladoras
  30. y yo no soy poeta aún
  31. el desierto borra una y otra vez
  32. los espejismos
  33. reflexiono:
  34. reflexionar es tocarse la punta de los pies
  35. y
  36. cada uno de mis amigos
  37. sentado
  38. se convirtió en una piedra
  39. una granada de orgonita:

  40. mar de Dirac
  41. de mis brazos
  42. brotan gargantas
  43. cañones
  44. o ríos riendo
  45. cada amigo
  46. es una espalda
  47. o un remolino de cabellos
  48. lo que se dice amigos
  49. que se hunden y brotan
  50. como lágrimas de lodo
  51. y qué secreto guardan
  52. casi hechos de garúa
  53. puñaditos de polvo
  54. y la garganta quebrada de un sueño
  55. soñar
  56. remar
  57. soñar

  58. por la Vía Láctea
  59. que resplandecerá en el futuro de la Tierra:

  60. Galaxia de nieve
  61. Galaxia de nieve
  62. Corona nuestra parranda

a Gerardo Grande

  1. se fue Ravi Shankar antes que Carlos Monsivais
  2. y Roberto Bolaño antes que Julio Inverso

  3. fue la Tercera Guerra Mundial antes que Enrique la estrella de la
  4. Quinta
  5. se fue Neruda antes que María Calas
  6. Se fue Cleopatra en ambos sentidos antes y después que Herman Hesse
  7. sólo los locos suben en ovnis para comprender a los terrestres
  8. zumban! las nubes pero es porque los corazones tienen alas y llenan
  9. de colmenas el cielo
  10. este es un slogan y el slogan es un verso y por ello han coronado a los
  11. Premios Nobel de Literatura
  12. promoción de mermelada
  13. mermelada de naranjas y libélulas
  14. pero aquello ocurre en un universo alternativo

  15. soy toda la música
  16. soy toda la música sin todo

  17. poetas asesinos
  18. nuestro principio es la comedia humana
  19. y terminará con la historia de los peces

  20. mi mamá decía que treinta días seguidos de conversación arrojarían
  21. ciento once tazas de café y tres libros sin sentimientos llamados nuevo
  22. mundo

  23. gravedad de fiesta
  24. mi Barco ebrio se estrelló en la pared
  25. se fue el río Amazonas antes que el río Mekong

  26. gravedad de fiesta
  27. los globos parecían testículos de dinosaurios tropicales
  28. hazte un poco para allá que ya no quepo en mi razón a
  29. quemarropa

  30. bajan! los ninjas en sus poemas casi deshechos
  31. batallaron toda la noche
  32. y comenzamos a dormirnos en el mundo

  33. era obvio que desaparecieron los números de la lotería
  34. gravedad de fiesta karma parabólico
  35. sólo las mentes seguían bailando con las locas

  36. y Adolfo regresó cuando berreaban las bocinas
  37. cuando las flores de metal lloraban en los cuartos

  38. Hitler regresó
  39. y el último en irse fue Hitler
  40. a escribir por ejemplo:
  41. la noche está estrellada de suásticas
  1. los perros de los cuadernos murieron
  2. desaparecieron de la imaginación

  3. adelante y afuera de mi ventana hay cientos de perros callejeros
  4. que no encuentran las entradas de lo infra
  5. calles llenas de perros
  6. cementerios de perros marinos
  7. perros voladores
  8. y perros luminosos

  9. desenterramos los huesitos junto a latas de refresco
  10. pepsi perros
  11. y perros sabritas
  12. serán
  13. los dinosaurios del futuro

  14. cierro los ojos
  15. los párpados son duros como hojas metálicas
  16. y la música pop bilz pap no puede dormir

  17. enciendo mi yo reality show:
  18. estoy bailando con los perros que se fueron al cielo
  19. y el sol gordo arriba
  20. deshaciéndose como una bola de mantequilla

  21. los perros tienen grosellas en las orejas
  22. como los pendientes de santa Claus
  23. y jalan un trineo de leche
  24. sobre los edificios

  25. ¿a dónde irán?
  26. de un lado a otro del ecuador
  27. que es una calle muy ancha
  28. sin puntos cardinales
  29. y sin porvenir


[1] Alice Rose Whitmore commenced her PhD in Translation Studies with Monash University in August 2013. Her current line of research involves translating the work of Mexican 'dirty realist' writer Guillermo Fadanelli.

[2] Unless otherwise indicated, all unreferenced citations pertaining to Yaxkin Melchy's work are sourced from the text of Los Planetas, or from personal emails authored by Melchy himself. All translations are my own.

[3] The website of the Red de los poetas salvajes can be found at this link: http://reddelospoetassalvajes.blogspotcom/. Yaxkin Melchy also edits the “” project ( and maintains several personal blogs featuring links to his poetry and videos:;

[4] Melchy and other members of the Red de los poetas salvajes frequently perform their poetry aloud. Examples can be found at the following links:

[5] After Venuti (1995): The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation.

[6] Among Melchy's greatest influences are the Hora Zero movement, which took root in Peru in the 1970s, and the Infrarrealismo movement, founded in 1974 by Chilean poet Roberto Bolaño and Mexican poet Mario Santiago Papasquiaro.


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To cite this paper please use the following details: Whitmore, A. (2013), 'The Cosmogony of Translation: Translating Yaxkin Melchy's Los Planetas', Reinvention: an International Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 6, Issue 2, Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at Reinventionjournal at warwick dot ac dot uk.