Translation Tuesday: “Constantinople” by Flavia Teoc

More fragrant are the grapes slowly growing sour on a vendor stall in Yerebatan

We are thrilled to feature Flavia Teoc’s poetry for the first time on Translation Tuesday. Teoc’s lines visit Yerebatan—the magical site in Istanbul where the Basilica Cistern hides a special sighting of Medusa. Under the dim lights of Yerebatan, Teoc’s fragrant lines shine brighter. 


More fragrant than the righteous ones perfect in all of their ways
Are the grapes slowly growing sour on a vendor stall in Yerebatan.
Under their cracked skin a sweet potion of sounds is distilled,
Memories from back when they were early sour berries or less,
An equal proportion mixture of screams from a woman flogged
Up against their vine, the bell of a leper who took shelter in the split leaves’
Shadow one late afternoon, and a stray dog’s quick nap nearby.
I’m telling you—
More fragrant are the grapes slowly growing sour on a vendor stall in Yerebatan,
For those perfect in all their ways will never touch them.

Translated from the Romanian by MARGENTO

Flavia Teoc is a Philosophy-graduate poet, essayist, and journalist, who has published several anthologies of verse and prose. She has been published in many journals in Romania, such as Atheneum, Steaua, Poesis, Transylvanian Review, and Observator cultural. She is the author of several volumes of poetry: Înzeire (Albatros, 1997), Din casa lui Faust (Clusium, 1998), Braţul pierdut (with a foreword by Ştefan Borbely) (Albatros, 2001); and fiction, Kyrie Lex (Cartea Românească, 2009). Her work was translated into English—The Dice (Criterion, Norcross, SUA), and French—De mur en mur (Petits Bonheurs, Nantes), while selections of her work have been published in various literary magazines in Hungary, Italy, and Israel. As a scholar at Aarhus University she recently authored a very well received book on the language of skaldic poetry.

MARGENTO (Chris Tănăsescu) is a poet, performer, academic, and translator who has lectured, launched books, and performed in the US, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Europe. He deploys networks-of-networks and natural-language-processing algorithms in his collaborative poetry, and continues his work on the graph poem project together with Diana Inkpen at the University of Ottawa where he serves as Digital Humanities Coordinator. His recent computationally assembled poetry anthology “US” Poets Foreign Poets will be presented at ELO 2018 and has been described by Christopher Funkhouser as a work of “unprecedented propulsiveness.”


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