To read the original Spanish by Susana Thénon


Renata Treitel is also the much-praised translator of Rosita Copioli. For a selection of new translations by Rosita Copioli.


For a selection of Renata's poetry


To order Treitel’s much-praised translations of Copioli’s The Blazing Lights of the Sun

To order Treitel’s translation of Susana Thénon’s distancias/distances (Sun & Moon Press, 1994) distancias/distances


Poetry by Renata is also online at Archipelago Vol.4, III


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Susana Thénon Susana Thénon

Renata Treitel Translated by Renata Treitel

Introduction to OVA COMPLETA

Susana Thénon's last book, is an irreverent book full of puns and full of truths. One could say it is a book of transgressions at many levels: linguistic, historical, formal. The first transgression is to be found in the title where the word ova (Latin: eggs) actually stand for obra as in Obra Completa (The Complete Works). This situates Susana Thénon outside the literary establishment, her stand against elitism. Indeed, this book belongs to the satirical tradition that goes back to Aristophanes exposing the hypocrisies and foibles of a whole society as well as the political and economic dysfunction of the Argentine society traumatized by years of the lawless rule of military regimes. The registers of language in OVA COMPLETA are astounding, and they tax the ability of a translator to try to transpose them into English. The language of this book is a mixture of high diction derived from the classics in the Spanish language and low diction represented by the lunfardo, the street slang of Buenos Aires, plus a good sprinkling of Latin, Greek, Italian, French English and other languages. Many of the poems in OVA COMPLETA are 'double-talk' in that within one poem the same subject is given in contradictory and opposite styles to bring out new meanings and new interpretations of certain events. Susana Thénon draws her subject matter from history in order to debunk old historical truths, and she draws from the scientific world to cast light on recent developments in science and their implications for the individual. She uses the rhythms of the tango in conjunction with the atmosphere of terror caused by the breaking down of the rule of law in her country, deepening the effect of the "horror." The world she portryas is socially inclusive, drawing characters from all walks of life and backgrounds. Above all, Susana Thénon is an intelligent, superbly gifted and educated writer, who died too young to reach the full array of her potential. Shortly before her death, she read OVA COMPLETA to a packed audience in Buenos Aires. The hall came down roaring.


mephitic hark ye!
if I say “mephitic” I have no
alternative than to add
“hark ye ”
it's the art of finesse
it's tastefulness, hark ye?
I cannot say to you
“stinking skunk hark ye”
nor “bag of rot hark ye”
and even less “sickening pot of stink hark ye?”
just as it would be a mistake to exclaim
“stuff the roses in the beaker!”
it's called awareness of language
the ground
that makes the Monument slide
profile for life in the funerary stele
maybe separate frontal lobotomy
it doesn't matter when some day
it doesn't matter how
(how) I eat iron (how) I eat chewing-gum (how) I eat a screw nut
one has to be there
hark ye? there
it's so easy
graybeard hark ye
to take a risk with “prick” or “princeton”*
a passport to marginalization
do you want to be the butt of batty anthologists?
to have a wart in your curriculum?
Erato to strike you?
what horse dung do you want?
rules precepts laws
rules precepts laws you want
rules precepts laws you want you have
and decorum pecunia safety
hark ye?
while they smell of shit
you grow mephitic
while they die dodo
you perish venerable
you evolve you perish mephitic venerable
mephitic venerable
you perish

*The Spanish reads: arriesgarse con “choto” o “chacabuco.” The poet plays with the sound “ch” disregarding meaning. However, because choto is slang for 'prick' and [C]hacabuco is the name of a famous Argentine victory during the Argentine war of independence from Spain, this translator takes advantage of the fact that the initial 'pr' of 'prick is also the beginning of 'Princeton,' an American victory during the Revolutionary Wars. To increase the parodic element, Susana Thénon uses lower case for proper names and capitalizes the word 'monument..' ( T.N.)


if you slept in Ramos Mejía
my sweet dear
what an uproar we would hear

how I would throw myself to your feet
how I would wait for streetcars
how to arrive at midnight
I would board at noontime

what an uproar we would hear

with your grandmother nearly insane
with your sister and her madness
with your cousins captains
running with us in harness

what an uproar we would hear

with your mother at the window
with your mother days and nights
with your mother making her bed
for us black with May flies

what an uproar we would hear

without your holes in my holes
without your shadows in mine
without fingers to beat
the drum of the agony

if you slept in Ramos Mejía
my sweet dear
what an uproar we would hear

what an uproar we would hear

my sweet

my sweet dear


the strooss
one of the great ailments
that affect (wo)mankind
it used to be called stress
and before that strass
or Strauss
it's like a waltz the shadowless woman
set out of step
there's no drama
she's drunk
drunk the sow

the strooss


you've thought of killing
and feel lousy

you've thought of killing
and feel lousy


you've thought
you think
of killing

you keep mulling thinking re-thinking re-mulling over-thinking
to get rid of a solid who what's more emits carbon anhydride
from his nares
a solid who in your opinion
is in the way
bars breathing
and pollutes
a pocket nuclear reactor
brevitatis causa relative
bad friend
civil servant
second-rate novelist
mother of mine
tennis champion
unknown green fragrant phantom
good friend
your own body

the high-rise

you've thought of killing
the dead

how nice to kill the dead

for easter I'll raise hell
with cotillion service
surprise under the vault!
magic clown chewing gum globe digital hourglass fireworks
for easter
perhaps for twelfth night

a few carry a rosary in their hands
others a book
and others a bunch of chard
I a Colt out of a John Wayne movie

you've thought of killing a solid more or less structured
your mistake is in the reckoning
you start from only one dead
and thousands follow
there's no end to this round

I warm the Colt
it's good for a stove
I write or not
I feel lousy or not
I dream grudgingly
ever since I was teething

you've thought of killing
I have thought of killing
let us warm the Colt
the Smith & Wesson
the grenade in the sewer of Monte Grande

are there more bullets than solids?
more solids than bullets?

come get some tea
or don't come

I think of killing
I do my homework for tomorrow

I'm off
and they are back


PRESTIGE: station prior
to the great terminal STYX LAGOON

it's possible to get off
but you run the risk of becoming a schizoid frog
forever: a being that jumpily
survives the changes of rails

in PRESTIGE there are sandwiches as well
should hunger block your future

eat as much as you feel like

don't look at the filling

the grand alchemy is only in its beginnings


“the electric prod
still hangs by the door
no one in it hurts another nor
makes its volts bob”


* This poem is a take off on the lyrics of a well-known Argentine tango as well as a macabre remark on the military repression in Argentina.