At 2 PM in the Afternoon (Excerpts)

Sarah Riggs, translated from the French written by Etel Adnan

copyright ©2019

the sun came out at night
to go for a stroll and the divine crossed
the room. the windows
opened

writing comes from a dialogue
with time: it’s made
of a mirror in which thought
is stripped and no longer knows
itself

in Palermo men are as
strictly trained as horses; or
else they have the shining violence of
flowers

*

it’s more bearable to think of
death than of love

Greek thought explored
all things the way it
explored the islands

when men no longer have
power over women, over whom
will they have it?

*
all Sicily is painted
by the planting
of vines

the shards of grief that a teapot
transforms into inexpressible joy

the Barbary figs ripen
on brilliant mornings, with firm flesh,
with certain steps

Notes on the Poem

We begin the week with “2 PM in the Afternoon” from the award-winning collection Time (Nightboat Books) by Sarah Riggs, translated from the French written by Etel Adnan. For the next few months, our Poem of the Week will highlight poetry in translation, featuring excerpts from our shortlisted and winning collections. The Griffin Poetry Prize is one of the very few international prizes that accepts works in translation (under the condition that the work be translated to English), and by featuring poems in translation, we wish to highlight creative affinities between our shortlisted poets, as well as translation as an act of artistic collaboration. “I fell in love with Etel and her work simultaneously, and the exuberance and clarity and engagement you find in her work you find her art and in her person—it’s all one. These poems spoke to me in their brevity, geographical and historical reach, and intensity, and I wanted to hear how they sounded in English,” says Sarah Riggs in a brief interview on translation published on Nightboat’s website. Listen to Sarah Riggs read from the poem "Return from London" in this beautifully illustrated Griffin Poetry Prize video.

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