The Science of Departures

BY Adalber Salas Hernández


ISBN: 9781734317664 (2021)

Translated from the Spanish by Robin Myers.

The Science of Departures is a book of goodbyes. Each poem in Adalber Salas Hernández’s collection speaks to a different kind of farewell: death, estrangement, illness, dispossession, decomposition, banishment, stories forgetfully or oppressively re-written over time, the painful discrepancy between language and experience. Some address historical figures or speak in their voices. Others explore the body (living, dead, and in transit): where it goes, the borders it traverses, what it’s forced to leave behind. Informed both by classical literature and contemporary Venezuelan politics, by twentieth-century history and high school biology class, by Twitter and the Old Testament, by the cynicism of bureaucracy and the wonder of parenthood, these poems register loss, condemn subjugation, and marvel at the music humans can make when we try to speak of it all.

ADALBER SALAS HERNÁNDEZ—poet, essayist, and translator—was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, the most recent of which is La ciencia de las despedidas (Pre-Textos). He has published five collections of essays, as well as numerous translations from Portuguese, English, and French; these include works by Marguerite Duras, Antonin Artaud, Charles Wright, Mário de Andrade, Hart Crane, Pascal Quignard, Mark Strand, Lorna Goodison, Louise Glück, Yusef Komunyakaa, Anne Boyer, Frankétienne, and Patrick Chamoiseau. He has been a member of the editorial board for Revista POESÍA and Buenos Aires Poetry. He coordinates the collection Diablos Danzantes published by Amargord Ediciones and is pursuing a Ph.D. at New York University.

ROBIN MYERS is a poet and translator based in Mexico City. Recent translations include Another Life by Daniel Lipara (Eulalia Books), Cars on Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos (Open Letter Books), The Restless Dead by Cristina Rivera Garza (Vanderbilt University Press), and Animals at the End of the World by Gloria Susana Esquivel (University of Texas Press). She was among the winners of the 2019 Poems in Translation Contest (Words Without Borders / Academy of American Poets). Selected translations have appeared in the Kenyon Review, The Baffler, The Common, Harvard Review, Two Lines, Waxwing, Asymptote, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She writes a monthly column for Palette Poetry.