Poems, in TWO Languages
by Sven Liu
Literature, which is considered the most significant representation of the mental universe for humankind, has been separated into numerous genres by writers. Writers are proficient in multiple different genres to express their way of thinking, especially those who have different life experiences and who speak various languages. Poetry is one of those literary genres, however it is difficult to both read and write in many newer writers’ opinions, especially when writing a poem in a different language. Therefore, we are very fortunate to obtain an opportunity to interview Luciana Erregue-Sacchi, a Canadian-Argentinian bilingual poet. Luciana obtained her Master’s degree in Art History from the University of Alberta in 2016, and she was one of the participants for Borderlines Writers Circle in 2017. Luciana created and published many poems in both English and Spanish on various topics. Her writing reminds me of my own experience of converting my literature from Mandarin to English, and she talks about her perspective on literature, bilingual writing, as well as the topics of her own poems in the interview provided below.
C L: Your biography mentioned that you are a poet. How do you like writing poetry? Why choose poems to express your points of view?
I write poetry so that I can make sense of the world around me, and how life events affect me. I choose poetry because it allows me to express myself in a very concise manner, with lots of room for the reader to interpret my words in new, unexpected ways.
S L: Do you speak Spanish as your first language? Did you find some difficulties with writing bilingual poems? How do you solve those problems?
Yes, I grew up in Argentina and Spanish is my first language. I actually find it more difficult to write academic papers and prose than poetry; to me poetry is more about playing with words, and to have two languages to draw from yields surprising coincidences and differences that can later be incorporated into a poem. Let’s say that I enjoy writing word games, you can also call it poetry…
S L: Could you briefly talk about the areas you are interested in? Why choose them to be topics of your poems?
I have always been interested in images, I have perfect recollection of the first time I saw La Gioconda, (on a label of a jam jar when I was a child) and every time after that. I have been unconsciously building this “rolodex of images,” as I like to call the items stored in my visual memory, and I like to make meaning out of them, to generate new questions, new insights and yes, of course, new writing, new poems… Studying Art History made me even more aware of how powerful images are, but also how much more powerful we are as spectators, to cull and select the images that speak to us and our lived experience.
In conclusion, it was a great conversion with Luciana Erregue-Sacchi. Many of her ideas inspired me as a similar bilingual writer. A specific example is something that Luciana mentions: speaking in two languages actually brings the advantage of larger vocabulary when writing poems. I would like to thank Luciana again. I hope you enjoy this blog and gain inspiration for your own writing.