Awarded first place in the CNCA’s Roberto Bolaño Prize for Young Literary Creation in the Poetry category, twenty-seven-year-old Francisco Ide Wolleter stands out from the latest generation of Chilean litterateurs. His “Poems for Michael Jordan” are miracles of observation, imbuing quotidian life with existential drama. You won’t ever watch basketball the same way again after this.
the ball’s porous plane
makes me think of human skin
a tactile nostalgia
though contact is always illusory
the facts are thus: we’re structured on emptiness
built of atoms,
atoms whose nature is to repel
and be repelled.
that’s why we don’t mix with things
that’s why when we touch
we haven’t really touched anything at all
the arc, precise distance, the power
ball in hand and control of the instant
as if nothing else existed
not hunger nor destitution nor blame
this is how one must approach it all
love is a discipline identical to that of basketball
and a game maintains the structure of life
you have to go mad with love while there’s still time
as if you’ve done away with everything else
I always played that way
and when my teammates understood this
they hewed tunnels through the air
for me and my master’s move to pass through
the ball in the air, fruit-like:
an orange suddenly bobs upon the waves
an eye seen through fogged glass
the phenomenon of the ball
passing through empty space to arrive
at your empty hands
Translated from the Spanish by Tim Benjamin
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Francisco Ide Wolleter (b. 1989, Santiago) has published Observatory (Corriente Alterna Editions, 2011), Yakuza (Cinosargo Editions 2014) and Poems for Michael Jordan (Luma Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland; Ajiaco Editions, Santiago; 2014). He was awarded a scholarship by the Fundación Pablo Neruda in 2010. His texts were included in the anthologies Tea Party, Tri-national anthology of poetry: Peru, Bolivia, Chile (Cinosargo / La Liga Editions, 2012) and New poets from America: Young poetry from Chile to Nicaragua (Fundación Neruda, 2013). In 2013 he was awarded second place in the Lamas Médula International Poetry Contest (Buenos Aires, Argentina). In 2014 he was awarded first place in the CNCA’s Roberto Bolaño Prize for Young Literary Creation in the Poetry category, and honorary mention in the Novel category; he also won the Toribio Larraín City Prize.
Tim Benjamin writes and translates from a new home base in Philly, publishing reviews and commentaries from time to time on both U.S. and South American culture and politics. He recently returned from just under half a decade living and working in Santiago, Chile.