The Soul Conveys Itself in Shadow: A Book Celebration

— a panel discussion about poetry, translation & art —

Stenen Press is proud to present The Soul Conveys Itself in Shadow / El alma se mueve en la sombra—a book that rethinks language itself, and embraces the power, innovation, and diversity of poetic voices from around the globe.

Join us for a conversation with some of the most dynamic and insightful poets of our time. All event attendees will receive an exclusive discount code valid towards a purchase of The Soul Conveys Itself in Shadow / El alma se mueve en la sombra.


Cecilia Vicuña & Rosa Alcalá

Kazim Ali & Ananda Devi

Polina Barskova & Valzhyna Mort

Etel Adnan & Sarah Riggs

Yu Xiuhua & Amanda Lee Koe

Kit Warren


Kythe Maryam Heller & Carolina Gómez-Montoya

“This book is close to the perfect incarnation of what a nomadic poetry & poetics needs to & can be: multiple voices, multiple languages, de concert (in & out of concert/unison), exploring paths or ‘mirrors’ that fork & fold, braid & dance. Which is the only way to experience (& then share as poem or art) the richly bewildering complex multiplicity of this, our world. And the only way to even approach its many-hued truths. All language is translation, and thus any/all language-constructs such as poems are always already translations. Read, reread & cross-read these ‘newly-spun thread(s),’ so as ‘to be perpetually reborn.’”

—Pierre Joris, author of A Nomad Poetics and Always the Many, Never the One

“In this perfect anthology, Kythe Heller and Carolina Gómez-Montoya invite you to hope along with them that the ‘reciprocity of care in approaching languages and each other’ will become a social practice. Here, the task of translation is to reveal not only an exchange of language as it morphs into renditions of meaning, but also to dissolves any artificial boundaries between one body being a poet, and the other being a translator. Here, there are no discreet beings; rather, each is an emerging and hierarchyless montage of thoughtful presences encountering each other within the field of the poem. The poet is the translator and the translator is the poet, and in this bodylessness, language as a ‘living presence’ unfolds with exquisite intensity within form, story, concept, history, trauma, eros, resistance, and everything else that is moving. The astonishing paintings of Kit Warren are woven within the pages, conveying the cellular and atomic field into which these morphings are ‘practices of errancy across language & consciousness.’ This book is a rare gift into which translation, as poettranslator AlcaláVicuña write, ‘perhaps the truest translation of the flower is yet to come.’”

—K (Kristin) Prevallet

“‘What is unsaid in a work, in a life, migrates from one language to another,’ note the editors of this exquisite and utterly singular anthology. It’s precisely this migration we witness as master poets alternate carrying each other across oceans and cultures into the habitats of new worlds and orthographies until this communion of voices from around the globe envelopes us in its fortifying mysteries. ‘To be born is to risk,’ writes Cecilia Vicuña. What these writers risk is nothing less than themselves, which is to say, everything.”

—Askold Melnyczuk

“The Soul Conveys Itself in Shadow reminds us that translation can be a tool for thinking, for remembering, for ‘consoling us’. Full of curiosity and ‘expansiveness’, the works collected in this anthology breathe the myriad ways we can commit to a poem, and make it ‘palpable’. Translation, here, is such a ‘breathable fabric’, is hooks, is curves, is dotted lines, a rug we curl up on, a kitchen table we gather around. These texts across languages, across memories, across borders, are ‘soaked’, ‘laden’ ‘leveled’, ‘slippery’, they mark what or who’s been silenced, drawing us in. Kit Warren’s drawings further translate the page, making it vibrate with attention, they hook us, circling around a pattern, a shape, in varying degrees of thickness or emphasis. I follow these lines. Like translation, like all making that traces another voice, another idea, another material, these lines sometimes cross over, sometimes they lift into the air, or constrict, draw borders, form edges. Sometimes shapes peek out from in between the fold of the page, are barely visible, and we sense that the real work lies inside the gap, the ‘gutter’, which we can’t grasp. Translation is this dot inside a little cube, a leaky brittle body, a fruit peel, with its layers, it adds flourishes and swirls. Ultimately, it’s in the ornamentations, the annotations, that we get to know the matter something’s made of, how it holds together. Little ‘scraps of weaving garbage’, I gather these works in my hands, to care for them.”

—Sophie Seita

“A kind of ceaseless motion moves through all these disparate texts and voices, a restlessness, an uneasy sense of displacement. Death, loss, love, sex, exile: all the inescapable themes of great literature are here, but in new and unexpected configurations, which are then reconfigured once more through brilliant yet unruly translations, re-creations that interrogate the nature and method of translation itself.”

—Kareem James Abu-Zeid

“A joyous, prismatic collection that playfully pushes at the boundaries of translation.”

—Jeremy Tiang

The Soul Conveys Itself in Shadow / El alma se mueve en la sombra offers its readers an innovative countermapping of poetry and translation. Here we are blown off-course, led astray, forced to wander, by some of today’s most relevant poetic voices in dialogue. Praise for this encounter with the liminal, for this imprecision of borders and boundaries, for this embracing of errancy.”

—Katherine M. Hedeen

“After reading this collection of translated poems, the word that emerged almost materially in my mind is buckle, a tool to fasten two ends together into one. A belt around the body, which is a body of a book and the bodies of all of these authors and translators. Some of the pairs translate one another in an exchange, some engage in conversations that elucidate their processes and their thinking about the crossings inherent in these translations. There is a coming together and a coming apart. A buckle is a temporary instrument, and it is designed to come undone.”

—JD Pluecker

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