Still Life with Defeats: Selected Poems of Tatiana Oroño is the first English-language collection of Oroño’s poetry. Her poems draw on motherhood, the loses in the Uruguayan dictatorship of the 1980s and, most of all, the natural world. She is a feminist and her poems show a consciousness of her own body, of being a woman in the pain and wonder of the everyday. But most of all, Oroño has a special awareness of language as a body of its own.
In “Elegy for the Road,” Tatiana Orono writes, “Poetry is the place where the things go that have no solution.” Her book, Still Life with Defeats, provides the solution I didn’t know I needed. What gratitude I feel to Jesse Lee Kercheval for this inspired translation. Without it, we’d be bereft of Orono’s taut, compelling poems, rich with sly surprise and haunting imagery. —Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, W. W. Norton
Tatiana Oroño’s place amid the motherlines of Uruguayan and Latin American poetry is beyond dispute; in Kercheval’s English translations, Oroño’s svelte lyrics are revealed to be in conversation with a litany of English-language poets writing before and alongside her, from Emily Dickinson to Barbara Guest, Fanny Howe to Cathy Wagner. This is the poetry of cosmic concentration, in which any object, any syllable, no matter how domestic or mundane, becomes a doorway on the Infinite by being so resolutely itself. —Joyelle McSweeney, author of Percussion Grenade
Tatiana Oroño's Still Life With Defeats is, like all good poetry, an attempted response to those questions that seem unanswerable. A search for unity underpins these poems, a quest for ultimate meaning, but, as in a still life painting of varied objects, there remains a gulf that cannot be bridged, a chasm that is simultaneously horrifying and beautiful. These poems represent an ongoing movement toward finding the connection and wholeness shared by all living things. Translator Jesse Lee Kercheval has joyfully accompanied the author on this journey; uniting passion with precision, she preserves the dazzling complexity of the original while continuing to ask the questions that have no easy answers. —Jeannine Pitas, translator of I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio