English 619:003 / Spring 2005 / Susan Tichy / George Mason University



from Palabrarmás / Wurdwappinschaw

is a collaboration between the Chilean poet Cécilia Vicuña & the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan. Published April 1994 as two 5-inch square pamphlets from Morning Star Folios, edited by Alec Finlay. One pamphlet contains the poems, bare of comment or introduction. One set of poems is printed in color in a double-sized fold-out at center. The second pamphlet contains excerpts from Cécilia Vicuña's letters to Finlay, plus a glossary.

These notes are derived from poems + the correspondence.

Palabrarmás / Wurdwappinschaw

palabra = word        wurd = word
labrar = to work       wappinschaw = weapon show = muster
armas = arms           
más = more     

The frontspiece to the second pamphlet reads in Spanish:
Las palabras desean hablar
y escucharlas es la primera labor!
and in a phonetic transcription of spoken Scots:
Wurds wahnt tae spik! 
Lisn! thon’s yer furst work!
Vicuña wrote in a letter to Finlay:
In the Mayan letters [Charles] Olson speaks of ‘their leavings’, (what the Maya left), but in Spanish ‘sus dejos’ would be ‘their way of speaking’, the delicate manner in which a mother speaks to her child when no one is listening, a form of being in sound…

And it is the double aspect of this ‘leaving’ that interests me, the fact that it is practical (utilitarian) and transcendent (full of other possibilities) at the same time.

This is how I see our own words. Perhaps because I see Spanish from the point of view of Quechua, and vice-versa, a word for me in any language is multidimensional, ans is charged with ‘hidden meanings’ as we can see…
Vicuña reports that she began seeing words as riddles containing other words ("a question and answer at once") in 1966. The words published here were made in London in 1974, where she was living in exile after the military coup in Chile. In these poems, words break to reveal lies and truth.

ver dad
dad ver

dad ver = to give sight   

Of Edwin Morgan’s translations she writes:
Edwin Morgan’s translations (so close to cons te llation,
latir is the beating of the heart)
is more than a trans
it is an installation in the language of poetry
Here are two of their collaborations.



corazón = heart
con razón = with reason
co = a nod to collaboration w/ Morgan

Pascal: The heart has its reasons

hert = heart
richt = right
ich = “I” in German

her t = a nod back to Vicuña

el dón


= permit me to give
perdón = pardon

gie = give
forgie = forgive