Brief note to a selection of poems in translation from the Argentine Magazine XUL

At the beginning of the eighties and in the middle of the military dictatorship that started in 1976 and finished in 1983, a small poetry magazine, XUL, published its first issue. The name of the magazine alludes to Xul Solar, the experimental artist and poet who was such an influence in Jorge Luis Borges' work. In a general sense XUL was motivated, as were others' publications then, toward (what in retrospective we call) cultural resistance.

At the time this resistance was less a heroic attitude than a way of survival. It was a resistance against censorship and the holocaust of thousands of people as well as a discussion about the impossibility of representation in a seamless web that avoided the split between politics and formal experimentation. The magazine also brought into question some of the concerns (a revision of the discussions between colloquialism and experimentalism, between social realism and formalism, among others) that the 70's have seen appropriated by the novel, while questioning the material and form in which it was presented.

The magazine went against the general trend of expressing sympathy toward the political agenda of the victims: thousands of which became "missing" or ended up in concentration camps located in the outskirts of major cities. XUL's refusal to align itself with the political platform of the victims, in many cases a combination in different dosages of nationalism and marxism, made room within the magazine for the inclusion of different theoretical approaches, none of which could claim to be representative of the publication as a whole.

XUL also resisted the, then, strong tendency to polarization, and developed as a response, a form of commentary that was specific to poetry and linguistics and that didn't rely on sociological analysis to think and write about Argentine culture. Its editor, Jorge Santiago Perednik, said in the editorial for issue #4, August 1982: "XUL's engagement with reality is contained in its engagement with language; one of the ways of realizing that engagement is in trying to make legible the use of language in the service of coercion and concealment."

The translation of some of these poems included, and invited, an open interpretation, in some cases, with comments from the author, that original figure of speech. In other cases the English edition in itself produces further interpretations of the same texts. For example, Jorge Lepore's Argentine edition of his "I feel of no forceps" was done with cutups of the text that were typed on white paper with black ink and glued on black fine cardboard, suggesting the neon signs of a political and affective unconscious. This English edition does not reproduce that layout, therefore creating different readings of a somewhat different text. The poems selected for this issue of RIFT are all part of the "XUL Reader: An Anthology of Argentine Experimental Poetry" that will be published as the collaborative effort of seven translators this coming Fall by ROOF Books.

Ernesto Livon Grosman