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My Naked Brain
Selected Poems of Leopoldo María Panero —Translated by Arturo Mantecón
Read an excerpt: “Dedicatoria/Dedication”
Hear Arturo Mantecón read a Panero poem in Spanish and English:
Praise for My Naked Brain
What a revelation, what a discovery, what a gift to have these poems of Leopoldo Panero in such convincing English as Arturo Mantecón’s. This is life-and-death poetry, prodigious imagination, language flirting with madness yet controlled, expression pushed to its limits in pursuit of unspeakable truths. A moving, profound, extraordinary book.
— Stephen Kessler
Arturo Mantecón has given us an incredible gift: his beautiful translations of poems by this amazing poet. His Panero is true to the original Spanish in every way, with authentic speech and real feeling. Quite an accomplishment! Now, thanks to Mantecón, we have Panero to read and enjoy in English.
— Jonathan Cohen
A member of Spain’s Novísimos group, Leopoldo María Panero is perhaps the most “outsider” of the bunch. The work is both sensuous and stark, bordering on the macabre (“and it amazed me / that someone could still love this cadaver”), skillfully marrying discursive and less discursive language: “I have lived two years in the City of the Flies /and learned to nourish myself with what I discharge.” As in any solid translation, Arturo Mantecón renders Panero into a sound-rich English that can delight, startle, and repel with “too much sun that burns, / exposes, makes naked and harasses”—but in a good way, as any arresting work of art will do.
— Francisco Aragón
Leopoldo Panero integrates instinct and emotion, intellect, humanity, and dream, often in lyrically gritty images, seductive in their multiple states of being. Imagine Panero as some odd Virgil, a guide knocking at the gates of a rising hell and a falling heaven, setting out with “the amplitude of words” to pursue “the mystery of that which names itself.” Arturo Mantecón lends focused sensibility and depth to the challenge of reconstructing Panero’s “mad” revelations, in all their beauty, precision, and grace.
— William O'Daly
About Leopoldo María Panero
Leopoldo María Panero is little known in this country. In his native Spain, his work has been reviled for the old obvious reasons, i.e., he’s been a communist, he’s been a drug addict, he’s “crazy” and lives in an insane asylum on the Canary Islands. Yet in 2004 Panero, who had never crossed the Atlantic, went to Chile to attend a festival organized in his honor. He was stunned to encounter thousands upon thousands of fans who came to hear him read and who treated him like a rock star. Teens took to emulating his shabby, unkempt look and, in imitation of him, carried duffle-bags of books around with them.
— from the Introduction by Jack Hirschman
Contact Translator Arturo Mantecón: artMantecón@gmail.com