Featured poet: Omar Chauvié

Omar Chauvié (Jacinto Aráuz, La Pampa, Argentina, 1964) is an Assistant Professor of Argentine Literature at the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Bahía Blanca. He was one of the “poetas mateístas” in the ’80s along with Sergio Raimondi, Marcelo Díaz and the visual artist Silvia Gattari, a group that painted its own poems along with those of others as murals in the city of Bahía Blanca. Chauvié has published Escuela Pública [Public school] (2012), Ernesto Guevara quiere ser Papá Noel y otros papeles [Ernesto Guevara wants to be Santa Claus and other papers] (2010), El ABC de Pastrana [The ABC of Pastrana] (2003) and Hinchada de metegol [Foosball fans] (1998). His poems have been included in many anthologies and magazines.

events that took place between 17 and 22 August 1972

like the voices of a game of truco that do not
always have the same intensity
between opening gambit and reveal
from shout to whisper
the teacher lists the difficulties
of the military advance in the cordillera
she speaks almost until the frontier of the break
about how war
is also sometimes
a spoken game of gestures,
allusions, deceptions;
about ways to deter the realist forces
of manuel rodríguez,
a chilean guerrilla fighter
who smoothed the way for san martín.
and she tells this because it’s august
and worth doing this in a commemorative august
at the argentine schools

how many days is it from the 17th?
the dates corner her
in that second grade classroom
with doors that touch the ceiling
where there echo the hopes of one who knows
the land
the ambushes
the subversive activity
of the guerra de zapa
with those chairs cracked by years
of inexperienced pressure on the pencil
and scrapes of stones
that mimic the sound of cannons

the windows that don’t close all the way
let the wind filter in
along with the occasional pounding
of a neighbor’s tools
split up into a rhythm
very close to the music
of a film by hitchcock

the teacher who during that holiday
is followed from the base in the south
to huge microphones
spells out yesterday’s old game of subversion
along with the one that on the 22nd
just killed those
who were also trying
to cross to chile

to teach, explain and feel
the day passes at my school
without my knowing how many years
it will take for me
to understand that tale again

i don’t know this young lady thelma
maybe with more help
from the circumstances
than from planning
andes mingled with andes
subversions and guerrilla
tactics and heroes
but this young lady who teaches
the necessary explanation
of a moment
teaches it in white and pale blue
every time she proposes
to explain and to feel

while i go about unlearning the links
between letters
so i can better return there
to that chacabuco
that prison in rawson
that classroom

the voices of the game of truco
in the corner
the tools that sound
like a suspense film.

— translated by Jessica Sequeira