HTML Backgorund Color

  About   /  Archive   /   Seasons   /  Print   /  Tenement   /  Shop


    Joan BROSSA


    SIX poems

       Translated by Cameron GRIFFITHS

          ORDER THE BOOK

Vampir (Vampire), 1989
© 2021 Joan Brossa /
Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York / VEGAP, Spain

To mark the publication of the first release from Tenement PressHotel’s second wing—see below for five poems from Joan BROSSA’s EL SALTAMARTÍ / THE TUMBLER; the first English language translation of a full collection of Brossa’s verse, translated from the Catalan by Cameron GRIFFITHS.  

Written in 1963 (and first published in Catalan in 1969)—BROSSA’s EL SALTAMARTÍ / THE TUMBLER presents a convergence of BROSSA’s critical and cultural concerns. With his growing sense of social commitment and support of Catalan independence, freedom stands as both Brossa’s primary subject and conceptual framework in this collection. THE TUMBLER is an anti-clerical and anti-authoritarian work that brings together verse vignettes and visual poems to revivify the proverbial, often with comic and subversive effect.


These lines, like
sheet music, are no more
than a collection of signs to
decipher. The reader of the poem
is a performer.

today, I leave
my spirit in 
its natural state. I
don’t want it agitated by thoughts
or ideas.


Aquests versos, com
una partitura, no són més
que un conjunt de signes per a
desxifrar. El loctor del poema
és un executant.

avui, deixo estar
el meu esperit en el
seu estat natural. No
vull que l’agitin pensaments
ni idees.


Here the
title of the book rises
like a curtain.


Aquí el
titol del llibre s’aixeca
com un telo.


Peret followed the gaze
of the girl. The girl pressed
firmly on the arms of the pram
as if she would gather momentum
and start rolling.

The title is formed by the initial
letter of the first three lines.


En Peret seguia la mirada
de la nena. La nena estrenyia
amb força els braços del coxte
com si anés a prendre impuls
per arrencar a córrer.

El títol és format amb la lletra
inicial dels tres primers versos.


This line is the present.

The line you have just read is already the past
—it remained behind after being read.
The rest of the poem is the future,
existing outside your

The words
are here, whether you read them
or not. And nothing on earth
can change that.


Aquest vers és el present.

El vers que heu llegit ja és el passat
—ja ha quedat enrera després de la lectura.
La resta del poema és el futur,
que existeix fora de la vostra

Els mots
són aquí, tant si els llegiu
com no. I cap poder terrestre
no ho pot modificar.


If I take a walk
I look forward to returning
to my room. When I enter,
I look forward to leaving again.

The Palace
is the Palace
and the Grand Hotel
is not the Majestic.


Si em passejo
tinc ganes de tornar
a l’habitació. Quan entro
tinc ganes de sortir altre cop.

El Palace
és el Palace
i el Gran Hotel
no és el Majèstic.


The mist has covered the sun.

I give you this
poem. You
are its free and necessary 


La boira ha tapat el sol.

Us proposo aquest
poema. Vós mateix
en sou el lliure i necessari

Joan BROSSA (1919–1998) was born in Barcelona into a family of artisans. He began writing when he was mobilised in the Spanish Civil War and, following an introduction to surrealism by way of the friendship and influence of Joan MIRÓ and Joan PRATS, would fuse political engagement and aesthetic experiment through sonnets, odes, theatre, sculpture and screenplay within a neo-surrealist framework. Brossa founded the magazine Dau al Set in 1948 and, during the fifties and sixties, his poetry was increasingly informed by collectivist concerns. His collection El saltamartí (1963) presented a synthesis of themes both political and social, and the subsequent publication of Poesia Rasa (1970), Poemes de seny i cabell (1977), Rua de llibres (1980)—and the six volumes of Poesia escénica (published between 1973 and 1983)—saw Brossa stake his place as a central figure in contemporary Catalan literature.

Cameron GRIFFITHS studied History and English Literature at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. His poetry has appeared in journals in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. He lives with his family in Spain.


Submissions     ︎      ︎

Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

Mailing List