while i listen by Alex Simões – translated by Carolyne Wright

while I listen to Cohen, that is Leonard
the night is fresh between sultry days
I watch the cloud that passes by and Gillard
does a shuffle in the lower earphone
it’s apt now to cite Kierkegaard
to pretend I already read a lot of tomes
to steal, perhaps to plagiarize, always to deny
(to rhyme is the lesser evil of the lower blows)
I listen to whatever I want, having wi-fi
but usually I want the same things
sonnets and ballads and haikai
rondeaux songs quatrains and sestinas
I disconnect the mp3 and an old polka
starts up in my heart, which is out of tune.
Alex Simões (28 June 1973- ) is an LGBTQ, Afro-Brazilian poet and performer from Salvador, Bahia, who creates urban interventions with spoken and sung poetry and visual poems. To date, he has published four poetry collections: Contrassonetos catados & Via Vândala (Itabuna, Bahia: Editora Mondrongo, 2015); (hai)céufies (Esquizo, 2014); Quarenta e Uns Sonetos Catados (Salvador da Bahia: Domínio Público, 2013); and his most recent book, trans formas são (Salvador da Bahia: Organismo Editora, 2018), from which these poems are translated. The complete volume of trans formas são (trans forms action) in English translation by Carolyne Wright will be the first complete volume of Alex’s work available in English. Alex’s poetry has been anthologized in Brazil and the U.S., and he serves on the Board of Directors of the Sacatar Foundation / Instituto Sacatar in Bahia.
Carolyne Wright is a poet, writer, and translator from Seattle, Washington, who has studied and translated in Chile, Brazil, and South Asia (West Bengal and Bangladesh) on Fulbright and other fellowships. In mid-2018, she held a residency fellowship at the Instituto Sacatar on the island of Itaparica in Bahia, where she met Alex Simões and soon thereafter began translating his work. She is the author of five books and four chapbooks of poetry, five volumes of poetry in translation from Spanish and Bengali, a collection of essays, and a ground-breaking anthology of women poets about work, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse Press, 2015). She has received Fulbright and NEA Grants, an American Book Award, and the National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators’ Association. Her most recent book is This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse, 2017), whose title poem received a Pushcart Prize and was also included in The Best American Poetry 2009. Her web site is carolynewright.wordpress.com.