Erín Moure & Elisa Sampedrin

LIVING PROOF: Six Poems from the Translations of Elisa Sampedrín

Living Proof

Leaving the Batallion

Grief (A Dor)


No Evening

To my Breath’s Psyche

photo of Erín Moure

Erín Moure is a Montreal poet and translator. Her eleventh book of her own poetry, Little Theatres (Anansi, 2005), was co-authored with Elisa Sampedrín. A new work, O Cadoiro, appeared from Anansi in 2007, as did the Galician translation of Little Theatres, Teatriños (Vigo: Galaxia), her translation of Chus Pato’s Charenton from Galician (Exeter: Shearsman and Ottawa: BuschekBooks) and her and Robert Majzels’ translation from the French of Nicole Brossard’s Notebook of Roses and Civilization (Toronto: CHB). She is now just finished a new book, O Resplandor, and is working on collaborations in translation and poetry with Montreal poet Oana Avasilichioaei and with Elisa Sampedrín, and on a translation into English of Chus Pato’s upcoming (2008) Hordas de Escritura.

Elisa Sampedrín currently lives in Bucharest, Romania, where she finds occasional work as a television cameraperson. Raised in Betanzos, Galicia, she first trained as a mathematician. Her work in theatre in Spain and Quebec started in the mid 70s during the period of confusion and freedom that followed the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain with the help of the Catholic Church and the oligarchies for 40 years. Since 2000, her work mixes translation, text and performance in what she calls “textual interference,” which she sees as a theatre. Having interfered with Nichita Stănescu in O Resplandor, she is currently interfering with Erín Moure and Oana Avasilichioaei.

She first stumbled upon the poems of Nichita Stănescu in a bilingual edition translated from the original Romanian by Oana Avasilichioaei. Insisting that she penetrate the originals herself, Elisa Sampedrín located other Stănescu works. Wanting badly to read the poems, and unable to, she translated them herself into the “idioma de ninguén” as she calls English, “the language of no one.”

When others asked how she could translate from a language she didn’t know, Sampedrín said: “Well I read Galician, I read French. Romanian is a romance language. Besides, not knowing the language, I can’t make mistakes.”

Curiously, one of the defenders of the proximity of Elisa’s poems to Stănescu’s is the poet Oana Avasilichioaei, who claims that something of the force of the Romanian originals emerges though the meanings are Elisa’s alone.

In a strong sense, any reading is already a translation. Elisa writes hers down for us. She is pragmatic, ethical: prepared to face what she does not know, and let it enter her, without trying to domesticate it.


Avasilichioaei, Oana. “Autora Multiplicada” in Translating Translating Montreal, forthcoming. Calgary: Dandelion Magazine, 2008 and Montreal: Pressdust: 2008.

Moure, Erín, with Sampedrín, Elisa. Little Theatres, or Teatriños. Toronto: Anansi, 2005; Vigo: Galaxia, 2007.

Moure, Erín, with Sampedrín, Elisa. O Resplandor. Forthcoming House of Anansi, Toronto, in 2010.

Stănescu, Nichita. Îngerul cu o carte în mâini. Bucharest: Editura Maşina de scris, 1999.

Stănescu, Nichita. Occupational Sickness. tr. Oana Avasilichioaei. Ottawa: BuschekBooks, 2006.