Hélène Cardona ( France, Spain, USA)

Hélène Cardona ( France, France, Spain, USA)

Poet, actor, and literary translator Hélène Cardona was born in Paris and raised all over Europe before settling in the United States. She earned her MA in American literature from the Sorbonne, where she wrote her thesis on Henry James. Cardona is the author of the bilingual collections Life in Suspension (2016), called “a vivid self-portrait as scholar, seer and muse” by John Ashbery; Dreaming My Animal Selves (2013), and The Astonished Universe (2006). David Mason describes Cardona’s poetry as “liminal, mystical and other-worldly,” adding, “this is a poet who writes in a rare light.” The book was included in The London Magazine’s alternative poetry list for 2015, which hailed it as “simultaneously rapturous and lucid.”

Cardona’s luminous poetry, hailed as visionary by Richard Wilbur, explores consciousness, the power of place, and ancestral roots. It is poetry of alchemy and healing, a gateway to the unconscious and the dream world. Stephen Yenser calls Life in Suspension “a terrific and singular achievement,” and Joanne Harris declares it deeply spiritual, “a tour de force of language and phonetics.” Exploring language and the psyche, Cardona discussed her poetry in a 2014 interview: “The poem is a gesture, an opening towards a greater truth or understanding. Art brings us to the edge of the incomprehensible. The poems, in their alchemy and geology, are fragments of dreams, enigmas, shafts of light, part myth, and part fable.”

Cardona’s translations include Birnam Wood (by José Manuel Cardona, 2018), Beyond Elsewhere (by Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, 2016), recipient of a Hemingway Grant; Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, 2014); and, with Yves Lambrecht, Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb (2015). She has also translated Rimbaud, Baudelaire, René Depestre, Ernest Pépin, Aloysius Bertrand, Maram Al-Masri, Eric Sarner, Jean-Claude Renard, Nicolas Grenier, and Christiane Singer. Cardona’s work has been translated into 15 languages.

Peripatetic Gremlin

Some days a shadow through
The high window shares my Prison.

—Geoffrey Hill

My life is a slide show
projecting the same image
again and again,

a glimpse into a world full of light
from behind bars,

a world that escapes North and South
as I stare at the Angel,

blinded by whiteness of time.

From Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016)


A House Like a Ship

I live in a house like a ship

at times on land, at times on ocean.
I will myself into existence

surrender, invite grace in.
I heed the call of the siren.

On the phantom ship

I don’t know if I’m wave
or cloud, undine or seagull.

Lashed by winds, I cling tight to the mast.
Few return from the journey.

I now wear the memory of nothingness

a piece of white sail wrapped like second skin.

From Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016)


Twisting the Moon

Now is the time to know
that all you do is sacred.

We shared the coast of Maine in June,
hundreds of whales, lobster
sandwiches, buttermilk pancakes

and a room in Bar Harbor with antique tub.

They’re now a cloister of shadows loved,
goldsmith of the music of time.

She left when circumstances met.

I dream of offering her strawberries on sacred moons,
healed by the beauty of memories,

ready to start over as if knowing nothing.

From Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016)