Meet The Translator: Allison A. deFreese

Thu, Oct 15th 2020 at 6:00 PM PDT · By Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum
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Thu, Oct 15th 2020 at 6:00 PM PDT
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Thu, Oct 15th 2020 at 8:00 PM PDT
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In her succinct—yet richly imagistic—poetry, Verónica González Arredondo explores the arid desert ecosystems of Northern Mexico, as well as themes related to immigration, social justice, femicide, perilous border crossings, and the disappearances of countless girls and women from Central America in harsh landscapes near the U.S./Mexican border. Verónica González Arredondo writes about extinction and survival, disappearing landscapes, displaced peoples, and the inhospitable climates (geographically and metaphorically) that remain in their wake. Yet she does so without casting blame or venturing directly into political and didactic terrain.


Allison A. deFreese had been looking for a translation project that explored these themes for over three years. Verónica González Arredondo is a champion for human rights, indigenous rights, and especially women’s rights. Through her poetry, she speaks out against femicide and violence against women, and her work has also been at the forefront of wider poetic and social justice movements in Mexico. 


Dedicated to the poet’s mother, I Am Not That Body contains both fragmented free verse and prose poems. The book invites the reader to follow a mother and young daughter on their journey across thorny deserts that were once covered by ocean beds, but are now parched and perilous; to ride atop the “Death Train” from the Guatemalan border toward the U.S. (“don’t sleep,/they told me,/but no one ever said:/don’t dream”); to bear witnesses to executions (while remaining silent), or to be delivered to and resurrected from a subterranean world of mass graves. 


Verónica González Arredondo (Guanajuato, Mexico) holds a PhD in Arts from the Universidad de Guanajuato and a Master’s in Philosophy from the Universidad de Zacatecas. Author of five books, her work has received several prestigious Latin American literary awards, including Mexico’s National Ramón López Velarde Prize in Poetry/Premio Nacional de Poesía “Ramón López Velarde,” for her book of poems Ese cuerpo no soy/I Am Not That Body (Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, 2015) as well as the Dolores Castro Prize/Premio Dolores Castro, an annual prize awarded to a woman writing exceptional and socially conscious work in Spanish, for her book Verde Fuegos de Espíritus/Green Fires of the Spirits (Ayuntamiento de Aguascalientes, 2014). Voracidad, grito y belleza animal/Voraciousness, Screams and Animal Beauty, a book of essays, was also published by Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas in 2014. Her new book of prose poems Damas Errantes/Wandering Women was recently published in December, 2019 by the Instituto Zacatecano de Cultura “Ramón López Velarde.” From 2017-2018 Verónica González Arredondo held a FONCA Fellowship for Younger Artists through the Fondo Nacional para la Culturas y las Artes/National Fund for Arts and Culture. Her poetry has previously been translated into and published in both Portuguese and French.


Poet and literary translator Allison A. deFreese is based in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and coordinates multi-lingual literary translation workshops for the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters. She has previously lived in Mexico, Bolivia, and Japan. Her literary translations have appeared in Asymptote, Crazyhorse, and Waxwing.  Her translation of poems from Verónica González Arredondo's book I Am Not That Body won the 2020 Pub House Press (Montreal) International Chapbook Competition.




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