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Joaquín Gavilano

Translator’s Note: Blanca Wiethüchter

What can I say about the fantastic Blanca Wiethüchter? She was the first Bolivian poet whose work I fell in love with. I wish I had been able to meet her and experience her poetry while she was still in this realm. Much of her work is about nature, love, the mysterious, and the ineffable— I hope to do her justice with these translated poems.


Although her work is a pleasure to read, my biggest struggle working with her words was the overwhelming lack of punctuation. Blanca doesn’t like commas and periods—and I’ve come to accept it. Her words and phrases can be interpreted in many ways, giving me—the ghost voice behind the translation—a lot of room to play around with, but also a lot of room to potentially fail. Her voice was such an important one in Bolivian literature during the end of the 20th century, an era of dictatorships and a great deal of political tension. How can one not be intimidated to work with her words—to work with her creation?


Although she passed away back in 2004 at the young age of 57, Blanca continues to impress and influence young, contemporary authors and poets in Bolivia. My hope is that by translating her, I can help push her immortalization. Blanca has been recognized in many Latin American countries already, as well as Germany, but not a lot of her work has been translated into English. Blanca’s poems have inspired a lot in me. The least I could do for her is push her work to an even larger audience.

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