Greatest Women in Translation: Robin Myers


Created by Érick Tonin

Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

This month, I talk to Robin Myers, US-born, Mexico City-based literary translator and poet, nominated by Charlotte Whittle.

Robin Myers

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1. Could you start by telling us about your beginning in translation?

I first became fascinated with translation in my late teens. At the time, it felt like the natural amalgam of several other interests: poetry, the Spanish language, and Mexico. I was born and raised in the US, but part of my father’s family came from Mexico; I visited a couple times as a child and always wanted to spend more time here. So I studied Spanish as the means to this very specific end. I lived in the city of Oaxaca for a few months after high school, then again halfway through college. It was during those early experiences of real immersion—in the language, in a place I loved, in my first Spanish-speaking friendships, in my first forays into reading contemporary Mexican literature—that I started experimenting with translation. There was something very simple and earnest about those initial explorations: I just wanted to share what I was reading (whether in English or Spanish) with people I cared about. As innocent as this may sound to me now—or at least as far removed as it can feel from certain parts of the day-to-day grind—I still believe that the desire to translate springs from the desire to connect, period. Of course we want that! Of course we want to bring disparate words, disparate worlds together.

In any case, it wasn’t too long before my translatorly hopes and expectations came into contact with more technical realities. In college, I spent a semester studying in Buenos Aires and took a workshop with Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, a remarkable Argentine poet and translator. Ezequiel’s approach emphasized the metrical building blocks of the Spanish-language poetic tradition, and at first I railed against this focus on syllable-counting and form. But I came around, and I started to genuinely enjoy the search for poetic “solutions” within a set of formal parameters. Ezequiel’s mentorship was very important to me as I started translating in a more professional way, and we’ve both gone on to translate each other’s work over the years, which has been a great gift.

2. Besides being a translator you are also a poet. Does being a poet help as translator and vice-versa? If so, how?

It absolutely helps. Both poetry and translation (and by this I mean the translation of anything, not just poetry) are practices rooted in the materiality of language. If you write poetry or translate anything, you are in the business of dealing with words as stuff, as resources, as concrete elements you shape and combine to form certain structures and spark particular effects in the reader. Of course, in translation, you’re using language in response to—in relation to—language that already exists in the world. You’re writing (because translating is also writing) in the service of and in complicity with that language. In this sense, too, translation demands both that you saturate yourself with the original text and that you distance yourself from it. That doubleness has helped me write my own poetry, I think, at least in the sense that it’s made the experience of writing poetry much more interesting. For one thing, it’s made me more conscious of the artifice of whatever I’m doing (and I mean “artifice” not as an insult but as a fact). For the same reason, it’s also made me feel freer to experiment: to think with more curiosity and more gratitude about language as “tools” and how I might try them out. I do feel that writing poetry affects my translations as well, or my approach to translating. For example, I care a great deal about sound when I write poetry, about what happens to words when we string them together and speak them aloud, and I feel a similar need to “hear” what language does in translating both poetry and prose. That said, I don’t mean to talk about this obsession with sound as if it were strictly the domain of poetry, much less of poets, because that’s not the case at all! I’m just musing about what it feels like for me in going about things as I go about them.

3. Could you please kindly share one of your (short) poems with us?

Here’s an untitled poem (they’re all untitled) from a collection called Having, which was translated into Spanish by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg and published as Tener in Argentina, Mexico, and (soon) Spain:

You can have it.

You can have the mad dash
and the mist,
the burned tongue
and honey-slick,
the cup

The night rage, the gray dawn
forgiving you.

The train,
the track.

The soft hairs
at the nape of the neck,
the thrilled plunge
and the cast.

You can have the rest of it.

You can rest.

It will drive you mad.

You will scald your way through
the days, trying
to have all of it,

having it.

4. In this interview you gave for the Los Angeles Review of Books, you said “translation is a weird, lovely, mysterious, largely invisible relationship, both for the translator and for the translated.” Why is that?

I mean, it’s so intimate! Even if the author and translator never meet, even if the author can’t read the language she’s been translated into, even if the author’s been dead for hundreds of years. No matter what, the translator gets to—has to—inhabit the text, figure out what makes it run, spend an unholy amount of time studying how the author thinks and what she cares about.

The translator invariably has to make tradeoffs, has to figure out what can or should or under no circumstances ought to be sacrificed. It feels like a serious responsibility!

The translator is entrusted with something. With any luck, if she and the author exist on the same mortal plane and can talk to each other and choose to do so, they’ll both view the translation process as something that links them together. And they’ll both register this as an honor: the translator, honored at the invitation to engage with the text, attend to it, and deliver it somewhere new; the translated, honored to have her work—which she, too, once produced in a solitary act of faith—engaged with, attended to, and delivered in this way. But even if the translator and the author walk the earth at different moments in history, or are never in personal contact, or don’t even personally like each other very much, this relationship still exists. The devotion, the attention, the responsibility, the anxiety, the fact that the translator ultimately creates a second work of art that is both inseparable from and necessarily independent of the first: it’s all there, all the time. I find it so strange! Thrillingly strange, though.

5. Your poems are translated into other languages, including Portuguese, right? How is it like being in both sides, as translator and translated author?

It’s been very joyful and moving. Yes, poems of mine have been translated mostly into Spanish, with shorter selections into Galician, Arabic, and Portuguese. Many of these translations have emerged from long-term dialogues and friendships; several of the translators are themselves poets I’ve translated from Spanish into English. So it’s hard to be objective about it; it’s all felt like a series of long, warm conversations, marked by a sense both of deep connection and of distance. Distance in the sense that I always hope a translator will feel that the poems also belong to her, you know? In all her particularities, all her personal styles and tastes and approaches.

If I write a poem and someone else translates it—or the other way around—it’s ours.

Part of what I still find uniquely powerful about the experience of being translated into Spanish, though, is that my books have only been published in Spanish translation. Not in English, and not in my own country of origin. And since I’m based in Mexico, when I take part in poetry readings, for example, I mostly read in Spanish. Which means I’m directly and constantly identifying myself with someone else’s work as my primary form of participation. Which means I’m inhabiting and sharing theirs as much as my own.

6. Are you currently translating any books? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?

I currently have three prose projects in the works: by Mónica Ramón Ríos (Chile), there’s Cars on Fire, a wild, free-wheeling, darkly funny collection of short stories set between Chile and New York, forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2020; Animals at the End of the World, a novel by Gloria Susana Esquivel (Colombia) about a young girl growing up in her grandparents’ house in Bogotá, forthcoming from the University of Texas Press in 2020; and The Restless Dead, a book of critical essays by Cristina Rivera Garza (Mexico) about disappropriation, “necropolitics,” and contemporary literature. I’m also working on various poetry projects in hopes of eventually finding homes for them in English. These include work by Javier Peñalosa, Maricela Guerrero, and Isabel Zapata (three Mexican poets whose recent books take beautifully and radically different approaches to the natural world and its relationship with contemporary humans); Daniel Lipara, Claudia Masin, and Alejandro Crotto (all from Argentina); and Adalber Salas Hernández (from Venezuela).

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’d like to nominate Juana Adcock, a Mexican-born, Scotland-based poet and translator. Juana translates between Spanish and English in both directions (a superpower that never ceases to amaze me!). Into English, she is the translator of Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener (with Lucy Greaves) and An Orphan World by Giuseppe Caputo (with Sophie Hughes). I met Juana in person only recently, although we’d been in touch for months before that, because I had the privilege of translating her poetry collection Manca into English. By the end of the process—which involved great openness, engagement, and creativity on her part—I really felt that Juana and I had become co-translators. I feel lucky to know her and learn from her in both languages!

Guest post: Tradução do português para o espanhol

Sejam bem-vindos de volta a mais uma publicação de convidado!

Hoje, recebo a Sonia Rodríguez Mella, do blog Traducir Portugués e tradutora de espanhol e português.

10 erros comuns de tradução do português para o espanhol

Antes de mais nada, muito obrigada por ter me convidado para participar do seu blog. Para mim, é realmente uma honra.

Como você sabe, sou uma apaixonada pela língua “brasileira”.

Na Argentina, trabalho muito como tradutora e revisora dos pares espanhol <> português e gostaria de compartilhar com você e seus seguidores minha experiência, o que eu aprendi como revisora de espanhol.

Ninguém deseja enganar na hora de fazer uma tradução, mas o tradutor é um ser humano, portanto, não é perfeito. Sempre pode haver algum errinho em seu trabalho e, por isso, as traduções devem ser revisadas, sempre.

Os erros que eu vejo com frequência quando reviso traduções do português para o espanhol são de diferentes tipos. Realizei aqui, em decorrência disso, uma pequena seleção:


O uso de preposições é difícil tanto em espanhol quanto em português. Sempre é bom ter por perto uma boa gramática e ler muitos textos de bons autores para consolidar de forma consistente o conhecimento.

O mundo das preposições, por si só, levaria à escrita de, pelo menos, um artigo, ou inclusive um livro dedicado ao tema. É por isso que aqui vou dar apenas alguns exemplos:

Encontrei Alicia na porta do cinema.
Incorreto: Encontré Alicia en la puerta del shopping.
Correto: Encontré a Alicia en la puerta del shopping.

Vou estudar português.
Incorreto: Voy estudiar portugués.
Correto: Voy a estudiar portugués.

Ela tem um filho doente.
Incorreto: Ella tiene un hijo enfermo.
Correto: Ella tiene a un hijo enfermo. (Doenças são consideradas passageiras.)

Ela tem um filho cego.
Incorreto: Ella tiene a un hijo ciego.
Correto: Ella tiene un hijo ciego. (A cegueira é permanente.)


Estes são erros que os nativos também cometem.

No primeiro caso, na verdade, o gerúndio não está bem usado e, portanto, a escrita certa exige o uso do pronome relativo que. No segundo caso, trata-se da conjunção que.

Neste caso, o uso do gerúndio não é correto:

Ele devolveu uma carteira contendo todos os documentos.
Incorreto: Él devolvió una billetera conteniendo todos los documentos.
Correto: Él devolvió una billetera que contenía todos los documentos.

Ela tinha certeza de que não passaria na prova.
Incorreto: Ella estaba segura que no aprobaría el examen.
Correto: Ella estaba segura de que no aprobaría el examen.


Em espanhol, a palavra “muito(a)” pode ser traduzida como muy ou como mucho(a), dependendo da construção da frase.

Muy: antes de adjetivos e advérbios.
Mucho(a): antes de substantivo singular e depois de verbo.

Atenção! Há exceções…

Mucho é usado:

  • antes dos advérbios: antes, después, más e menos.
  • antes dos adjetivos: mejor, peor, menor e mayor.


Ella es muy linda.
Él llegó muy tarde.
La traductora sabe mucho.
El traductor llegó mucho antes.
Este diccionario es mucho mejor que el anterior.


Em português, o hífen é muito usado, mas, no espanhol, as regras de uso do hífen são muito diferentes.

América Latina para os latino-americanos.
Incorreto: América Latina para los latino-americanos.
Correto: América Latina para los latinoamericanos.

Conclusão de uma metanálise publicada em janeiro.
Incorreto: Conclusión de un meta-análisis publicado en enero.
Correto: Conclusión de un metaanálisis/metanálisis publicado en enero.

Nesse último caso, por exemplo, trata-se de uma palavra que o DRAE não registra. Porém, o dicionário de Fernando Navarro inclui apenas “metanálise”, mas a Fundéu aceita as duas formas.


Em português, os monossílabos tônicos são sempre acentuados, mas, no espanhol, de modo   geral, os tônicos e os átonos não são acentuados, exceto nos casos de acento diferencial:

Termo Classificação Termo Classificação
De Preposição (de) Verbo (dê)
El Artigo (o) Él Pronome (ele)
Mas Conjunção (mas) Más Advérbio, adjetivo ou pronome; conjunção (mais)
Mi Adjetivo possessivo (meu) Pronome pessoal (mim)
Se Pronome (se) Verbo (sei)
Si Conjunção (se) Advérbio (sim)
Te Pronome (te, lhe) Substantivo (chá)
Tu Possessivo (teu, seu) Pronome pessoal (tu)

Também são acentuados os monossílabos posicionados entre sinais de interrogação e admiração.


¿Qué hora es?
¿Cuál quiere?
¿Cuán grande era?
¿Quién era?


Em português, o sinal de porcentagem vem depois do número, sem espaço. Em espanhol, entre o número e o sinal de porcentagem deve ter um espaço: 20 %. Só não tem espaço se for o caso do espanhol dos EUA.


Em português, usa-se muito a voz passiva, mas, em espanhol, ela deve ser evitada.

Nessa loja, são vendidos os bolos mais gostosos de SP.
Incorreto: En esa tienda son vendidas las tortas más ricas de São Paulo.
Correto: En esa tienda se venden las tortas más ricas de São Paulo.


Em espanhol, as horas são escritas de diferente forma, dependendo do local.

Espanhol da América Latina (LA), da Espanha, internacional (XL) e da Argentina:

10:00 h – 22:00 h

Espanhol do México (MX) e dos EUA:

10 a. m. – 10 p. m. (com espaço)


Em espanhol, os números são escritos de diferente forma, dependendo do local.

Espanhol da América Latina (LA), da Espanha, internacional (XL) e da Argentina:

  • Quatro dígitos: sem vírgula, por exemplo, 1000
  • Mais de quatro dígitos: com espaço, por exemplo, 10 000
  • Uso de decimais: com vírgula, por exemplo, 0,75

Espanhol do México (MX) e dos EUA:

  • Quatro dígitos: sem vírgula, por exemplo, 1,000
  • Mais de quatro dígitos: com espaço, por exemplo, 10,000
  • Uso de decimais: com vírgula, por exemplo, 0.75


Em português, é habitual o uso do artigo antes do nome de uma empresa. Isso não ocorre em espanhol.

A Odebrecht foi responsável pela construção do edifício.
Incorreto: La Odebrecht fue responsable de la construcción del edificio.
Correto: Odebrecht fue responsable de la construcción del edificio.

Tudo tem um limite; por isso, registrei apenas dez tipos de erros, mas a lista é muito maior.

Espero que você tenha gostado e que seja útil para os tradutores que seguem você nas redes.

Mais uma vez, muito obrigada por ter me dado esta oportunidade.

Sobre a autora
foto soniaSonia Rodríguez Mella é contadora, tradutora de português e autora do Diccionario ACME Español-Portugués/Portugués-Español, publicado pela Editorial Acme Agency, da Argentina, e supervisionado pela Editora Nova Fronteira, do Brasil. Trabalha de forma autônoma desde 1993. Antes dividia seu tempo entre as duas profissões, mas, em 2005, decidiu dedicar todos os seus esforços à área de tradução. Em 2010, criou o blog e mantém uma página no Facebook, Traducciones de Portugués, que está atingindo os 9.000 seguidores. No blog e nas redes, ela transmite regularmente suas experiências relacionadas com os idiomas espanhol e português. Em 2017 e 2018, participou do Congresso Internacional da Abrates, associação da qual é membro.