Honor the Ass
translated from the Spanish by Kirk Nesset
Honor the ass for the star
of stupidity by which it illuminates.
For its slow petrified solitude,
so docile and useful.
Honor the ass that carries the poet
along through the world,
pricking his long ears
before each of his lines,
whatever the music.
Honor the ass, honor his box of butterflies,
where he stores the blows of God and men
and never complains.
Eugenio Montejo is regarded as Venezuela’s foremost living poet and is a crucial voice in South American literature. He is the author of twelve books of poetry, two books of essays, and a heteronymic volume of pieces titled El Cuaderno de Blas Coll. Montejo was awarded Venezuela’s National Prize for Literature in 1998 and received the prestigious Octavio Paz International Prize for poetry in 2005. He has also served as Venezuela’s ambassador to Portugal at various times. (1/2006)
Kirk Nesset is the author of two books of short stories, Paradise Road (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007) and Mr. Agreeable (Mammoth Press, 2009), as well as a nonfiction study, The Stories of Raymond Carver (Ohio University Press, 1995). Books of poems and translations are forthcoming: St. X (Lewis Clark Press) and Alphabet of the World (University of Oklahoma Press). He was awarded the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in 2007 and has received a Pushcart Prize and numerous grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His stories, poems, and translations have appeared in The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, AGNI, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and literature at Allegheny College. (updated 8/2009)