An Interview with Laura Cesarco Eglin by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Laura Cesarco Eglin is the author of Llamar al agua por su nombre (Mouthfeel Press, 2010), Sastrería (Yaugurú, 2011), Los brazos del saguaro (Yaugurú, 2015), Tailor Shop: Threads (Finishing Line Press, 2013) co-translated with Teresa Williams, and Occasions to Call Miracles Appropriate (Lunamopolis, 2015). Cesarco Eglin has translated works of Colombian, Mexican, Uruguayan, and Brazilian authors into English. She is a co-founding editor of Veliz Books.
JLK: Is there anything you would like to tell readers about your poetry or the poems in this book?

LCE: These two poems are part of my second poetry collection, Sastrería, Tailor Shop. When writing Sastrería I was exploring how memory works, the practices of memory, its poetics. In this collection, memory works just as both tailors and poets do, using fragments and snippets as a starting point, signifying and resignifying the past in order to weave a present. These negotiations are never exact copies of the original experience: cancer, carried in the body from generation to generation; being the descendant of Holocaust survivors; language as it changes through migration. Tailor Shop speaks of memory that is vibrant, revitalizing the past, sewing the present.

JLK: Is there anything you would like to tell readers outside Uruguay about Uruguayan poetry, especially the poetry written by other women poets? Are there any Uruguayan women poets who have influenced your work or you particularly admire?

LCE: Uruguay has always had very strong women poets—from María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira, Delimra Agustini, Amanda Berenguer, Susana Soca, Idea Vilariño, Marosa di Giorgio, to name merely just a few. This fact in and of itself is influential because it is a very special experience to have been born in a country with such an incredible tradition and, I must say, present practice. I’m thinking of Mariela Nigro, Circe Maia, Virginia Lucas, Laura Chalar—again, I’m naming just very few examples of all the Uruguayan women poets writing nowadays.

To give three examples of these poets’ influence on my work I will say that I have been greatly influenced by Idea Vilariño’s seemingly simply poems and Marosa di Giorgio’s flow. Also, I have recently been influenced by Ida Vitale’s poetry because I studied her work for my PhD dissertation. 
Jesse Lee Kercheval is a 2016 NEA in Translation Fellow and is the author of fourteen books including the poetry collection Cinema Muto, winner of a Crab Orchard Open Selection Award; The Alice Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Fiction Book Prize; the memoir Space, winner of the Alex Award from the American Library Association. She is also a translator, specializing in Uruguayan poetry. Her translations include The Invisible Bridge: Selected Poems of Circe Maia and Fable of an Inconsolable Man by Javier Etchevarren. She is also the editor of the anthology América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets. She is currently the Zona Gale Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she directs the Program in Creative Writing.