Pitzer Professor Brent Armendinger’s Book Named Poetry Award Finalist

Claremont, Calif. (July 10, 2020) — Street Gloss by Brent Armendinger, professor of English and world literature at Pitzer College, is among five finalists for the 2019 California Book Award in Poetry. Critics are calling Street Gloss “a glory and a wonder.” The awards, given since 1931 by the California Commonwealth Club, recognize the state’s best writers and illuminate the wealth and diversity of literature written in California. 

Professor Brent Armendinger

Of his nomination, Armendinger said, “I’m incredibly honored to be a finalist alongside writers whose work I deeply admire. More important than any award is for a writer’s work to be read with depth and care. I hope this leads more readers to all of the finalists’ books.”

In his innovative book, Armendinger follows the work of five contemporary Argentinian poets into the streets of Buenos Aires, attempting to map the ways a word might be an echo of the city itself. 

Interested in the surface areas of language and the generative potential of failure in translation, Armendinger gathers impressions, associations and language through unpredictable encounters with the place and its inhabitants. Notes from these encounters appear interlaced between the original poems in Spanish and their translations. Featured poems are by Alejadro Méndez, Mercedes Roffé, Fabián Casas, Diana Bellessi and Néstor Perlongher, with artwork by Alpe Romero. 

Reviews from fellow writers praise Armendinger’s style and inventiveness:

“Have you ever wondered what the translator was thinking while they were busy wondering what the poet they translated was thinking?, asks C.A. Conrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death. “I have, and these extraordinary uncompromisingly queer poems by Brent Armendinger are the answer. This brilliant somatic meta-form is my new favorite way to read translations.”

Sesshu Foster, author of City of the Future, writes, “Armendinger unfolds translation itself into a somatic map of the city, he refracts his transect into a radiant witness, he delivers, from the city of Borges and Cortazar a city they’d recognize, a city that awakens within.” 

Carmen Giménez Smith, author Be Recorder and Cruel Futures, notes: “In his second collection, Brent Armendinger refracts his translations of Argentinian poets through the lens of Buenos Aires residents who guide him into and around language in an exploded view of a collaborative translation, a polyphonic archive. In this formally inventive collection, the translations are masterful, and the definitions that accompany them conjure a deeply felt current of connection.”

Street Gloss is published by The Operating System, 2019.

Armendinger was born in Warsaw, NY, and studied at Bard College and the University of Michigan, where he received an Avery Hopwood Award in Poetry. He is the author of “The Ghost in Us Was Multiplying” (Noemi Press, 2015), and two chapbooks, Undetectable (New Michigan Press, 2009) and Archipelago (Noemi Press, 2009). His poems and translations have appeared in many journals, including Anomaly, Asymptote, Aufgabe, Bloom, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Ghost Proposal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, LIT, Puerto del Sol, Volt and Web Conjunctions. He is a recipient of residencies, including Blue Mountain Center and Headlands Center for the Arts. He has taught creative writing at Pitzer College since 2008. 

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