Antonio Porchia

(1885-1968)




A

ntonio Porchia was born in Conflenti, Italy, in 1885. After emigrating to Argentina in 1906, he worked variously as a basket-weaver, stevedore and printing-press operator in Buenos Aires. His first collection of fragments, or "voices" as he called them, was self-published in 1943. Further editions followed in the '50s and '60s, garnering praise from Jorge Luis Borges, Raymond Queneau and Henry Miller among others.

Voces reunidas, which gathers all of Porchia's work, was published in Spanish in 2006. Today the total number of extant voices is 1,184.


Voices
Essays


Antonio Porchia, Voces (1943)
Jorge Luis Borges, "The Singular Mystery of Antonio Porchia"

Roberto Juarroz, "Antonio Porchia or Depth Regained"

Roberto Juarroz, "Towards the Ultimate Creation"

Alejandra Pizarnik, "The Visionary Antonio Porchia"

León Benarós, "What Are the Voices?"



Translating the VoicesAntonio Porchia, Voces (1948)


Translator's Note (more technical than the Introduction)

Voices vs. Aphorisms

On W.S. Merwin's Mistranslation of Antonio Porchia's Voices


Interviews


Readers of the three interviews translated below will immediately be struck by Porchia's uncommon use of language. As Daniel González Dueñas writes in the Introduction:

Porchia not only wrote voices but expressed himself througEtching by Libero Badii from Antonio Porchia, Voces (1964)h them—even in day-to-day conversation: what was unnatural to his way of speaking was having to break the mold of his thoughts.

As such, journalists interviewing Porchia had two options: they could either try to make him give concrete answers to standard questions and record the result in challenging direct speech (Confirmado), or they could abandon the interview format altogether and write a more or less lyrical (and equally challenging) piece on Porchia’s personality and ways of thought (Malinow, Barros).

In both cases, these interviews offer a rare, valuable glimpse into how Porchia thought, spoke and behaved beyond the written page.

Introduction to the Extant Interviews with Antonio Porchia by Daniel González Dueñas
  1. "Antonio Porchia: 'I Don't Trust in Any Certainty'," in Confirmado Magazine
  2. "'I Don't Search for Poetry: It Comes to Me,' Says Antonio Porchia," by Inés Malinow
  3. "Being with Antonio Porchia," by Daniel Barros

Letters & Reminiscences 


Alejandra Pizarnik, Two Letters to Antonio Porchia  (196? - 1963)

Porchia remembered (articles, statements and anecdotes from close friends, relatives and other sources - in progress)


Audio


In the autumn of 1967, Porchia was recorded reading a selection of Voces at a municipal radio station in Buenos Aires. The readings were released as a vinyl record by AMB Discográfica with the title Antonio Porchia por él mismo. Voces (Documentos 333-3), and were included as a CD in Voces reunidas (Valencia: Pre-Textos, 2006).

Palabra Virtual has further audio files of Porchia's voices on offer (one voice per file).


Links


Web site of the Estate of Antonio Porchia
(currently under maintenance)

In Spanish:

AhiRa (Historical Archive of Argentine Magazines) has made available a very yellowed, but still very readable copy of issue 37 of the magazine Crisis (May 1976), with some wonderful photographs, manuscript voices and articles on Porchia (pages 10-15 in the 18MB PDF).


Notes


Portrait in Bronze of Antonio Porchia by Libero Badii This translation of Antonio Porchia's Voices was carried out in collaboration with the Porchia Estate, Ángel Rós and Daniel González Dueñas, editor of Voces reunidas.

Grateful thanks are due both to Porchia's heirs, for permission to translate and publish the material, and to Ángel and Daniel, for their years of collaboration and support.

A NOTE ON COPYRIGHT AND REPRODUCTION:

The Spanish-language voces that appear on this site are posted with permission, and require the authorization of the Porchia Estate to be reproduced in print or online.

It you would like to share the voices in translation, please link to this page or, if cutting and pasting a small sample onto your own (which I'm happy for readers to do), please remember to include the name of the translator along with the text. (At the moment, sites like Wikiquote offer a mishmash of "anonymous" Porchia translations from undocumented sources, often inaccurately reproduced, which is very troubling for any translator to see.) Thank you.