Hélène Cardona (France, Spain, USA)

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Hélène Cardona (France, Spain, USA)

Poet, actor, and literary translator Hélène Cardona was born in Paris and raised all over Europe before settling in the United States. She earned her MA in American literature from the Sorbonne, where she wrote her thesis on Henry James. Cardona is the author of the bilingual collections Life in Suspension (2016), called “a vivid self-portrait as scholar, seer and muse” by John Ashbery; Dreaming My Animal Selves (2013), and The Astonished Universe (2006). David Mason describes Cardona’s poetry as “liminal, mystical and other-worldly,” adding, “this is a poet who writes in a rare light.” The book was included in The London Magazine’s alternative poetry list for 2015, which hailed it as “simultaneously rapturous and lucid.” Cardona’s luminous poetry, hailed as visionary by Richard Wilbur, explores consciousness, the power of place, and ancestral roots. It is poetry of alchemy and healing, a gateway to the unconscious and the dream world. Stephen Yenser calls Life in Suspension “a terrific and singular achievement,” and Joanne Harris declares it deeply spiritual, “a tour de force of language and phonetics.” Exploring language and the psyche, Cardona discussed her poetry in a 2014 interview: “The poem is a gesture, an opening towards a greater truth or understanding. Art brings us to the edge of the incomprehensible. The poems, in their alchemy and geology, are fragments of dreams, enigmas, shafts of light, part myth, and part fable.” Cardona’s translations include Birnam Wood (by José Manuel Cardona, 2018), Beyond Elsewhere (by Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, 2016), recipient of a Hemingway Grant; Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, 2014); and, with Yves Lambrecht, Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb (2015). She has also translated Rimbaud, Baudelaire, René Depestre, Ernest Pépin, Aloysius Bertrand, Maram Al- Masri, Eric Sarner, Jean-Claude Renard, Nicolas Grenier, and Christiane Singer. Cardona’s work has been translated into 16 languages. Her work has been translated into 16 languages.

How God Thinks Is Surprising

My mother and I are two swans intertwined.
We show the world stage our connection, our closeness.
The bond never fades. God is director of the play.

We’re part of each other,
a continuation of movement, dance, beauty.
Together we form a whole, a heart, an angel.

Our core holds a plate to be filled with life.
We create and celebrate every reason,
the symmetry of our truth a vision, an offering.

We invented time.
The more we make it disappear,
the closer to God we grow.

I understand the nature of plants,
living off the land and rain.
I used to be a flower.

I like morphing into an animal,
devouring who I was.
The earth never fails me.
From Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016)


Musica Eterna

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

—Rumi

Are we always more fascinated by the legend?
       What if myth meets you en el camino, healer
in the heart of compassion, peacemaker

smiling its message on piano keys, dusting
       the bookcase of life, whistling
follow your pen, be a song?

I blow wishes into the universe, celestial
       cape, matrix to subdue
demons and possess truth.

Surprised by my lunar earth nature,         
         inhabited by ancient forests,
I molt into flying serpents,

pelicans touching wings,
         magnets of expanded vistas,
a crest crowned by doves,

in its center the caduceus
entwined identity, magician’s score,
     water weeping out of hands.

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