South Pole / Polo Sur

ISBN 978-0-9859-4680-7  

by Maria Teresa Ogliastri                                                                                                                           Translated by Yvete Neisser Moreno and Patricia Bejarano Fisher

Maria Teresa Ogliastri

Maria Teresa Ogliastri

Settlement House is proud to announce publication of María Teresa Ogliastri’s South Pole/Polo Sur, a bilingual edition of a collection of poems that in its original Spanish has been celebrated as a triumph of the imagination. Publication of South Pole/Polo Sur presents this accomplished Venezuelan poet to English-speaking readers for the first time. Ogliastri brings her own brand of magic realism to her subject; in doing so, she has created a mythic journey imbued with ancient mythology, twentieth century cultural icons, and the immediate perspective born of her native Venezuela--and beyond. South Pole/Polo Sur is the accomplishment of an unflinching vision, the story of “an average man who treasured a dream of grandeur.” It is that rare achievement, a tribute to the passion of life as it is meant to be lived in its fullest.

María Teresa Ogliastri was born in Los Teques, Venezuela, and lives in Caracas. She is the author of five collections of poems: Del diario de la Señora Mao (From the Diary of Madame Mao, 2011), Polo Sur (2008), Brotes de Alfalfa (Alfalfa Sprouts, 2007), Nosotros los Inmortales (We, the Immortals, 1997), and Cola de Plata (Silver Tail, 1994). She has been featured at poetry festivals throughout Latin America, and her work has appeared in several anthologies of Venezuelan poetry. Ogliastri has worked as publications coordinator of the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art, the cultural foundation Fundarte, and other institutions.

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About the Translators

YVETTE NEISSER MORENO is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her translations of Argentinean Luis Alberto Ambroggio’s poetry inDifficult Beauty (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009) were nominated for the National Translation Award and for a Pushcart Prize.

PATRICIA BEJARANO FISHER has worked as a Spanish instructor, translator and language-learning materials developer in both government and academia. She has taught college-level English in her native Colombia and Spanish at the University of Maryland. South Pole/Polo Sur is her first book-length translation.

Excerpts from  South Pole / Polo Sur

Excerpts from South Pole / Polo Sur

Legacy of Anopheles

Drinking whisky
while telling stories of the jungle
I dreamed of a journey by bongo
from the Amazon to the South Pole

the iguanas inspired me
their saurian bodies draped on branches
eccentric like pop stars
persisting through time

I learned to sail with Indians
who traded me for a cartload of wood
for my skill in the water and the psyche

I lived with the anopheles
its proboscis
the malaria and the visions

and saw my life from afar
always searching for her, my brief mother

in that lost world
showing sorrow was forbidden



Sometimes I think I should take my rancor to the cold
exorcise it in the ice
then pass it through the still

break it down

dilute it drop by drop
distill the essence
an extract

the fragrance of forgiveness


Bridges of Light

I yearned to see the stars
the ones no one has seen
in the blue firmament

they are distant
so deceptively near
that in me they are bridges
bridges of light

so helpless
hanging there in the dark
no one knows what they hope for
or what goodness governs them

might forgiveness be in that light
or in the desperate need for a voice?


No More Blood No More Rivers

Too late
I learned the value of fire

I must content myself with hallucinating dawns
and white sparks

drop by drop the veins are hydrated

a river opens a channel and navigates us
drop by drop the voyage

and forgiveness?
fossilized ice

and if I speak?
and if I slide truth down the slope?
could I stop the avalanche?

there is no more blood
there are no more rivers

this entire journey
just to lose balance and memory

too late



She displayed her treasures

precious stones
insects in amber
trilobites on the wall

everything for the house

then came the eclipse
and we had to veil our eyes

guilt arrived along with the penguins

after the flood
the house was covered in algae and debris

love’s jagged edge saved us