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Gemma Gorga was born in Barcelona in 1968.  She has a PhD in Philology from the University of Barcelona, where she is Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Spanish Literature.  She has published seven collections of poetry in Catalan: Ocellania (1977), El desordre de les mans (2003), Instruments òptics (2005), Llibre dels minuts (2006) which won the 2006 Premi Miquel de Palol, Diafragma (2012), Mur (2015); and Viatge al centre (2020).  She is also the author of a prose journal of her time spent in India entitled Indi visible (2018).

Late to the House of Words

Saturnalia Books
2022 Shortlist
United States

Judges’ Citation

Opening with the search ‘for some living syllable—sister to bread / and poverty—to bring to our lips,’ Gemma Gorga’s Late to the House of Words divines its own miraculous sustenance between the vision and the visionary, the physical and the metaphysical.

Opening with the search ‘for some living syllable—sister to bread / and poverty—to bring to our lips,’ Gemma Gorga’s Late to the House of Words divines its own miraculous sustenance between the vision and the visionary, the physical and the metaphysical. Whether through gnawing on a pencil to find ‘the vagus nerve / of the word,’ or listening ‘to the rotation of sugar / in the cup, the rhythmic dissolution / of one body inside a darker one,’ these poems transform the objects and experiences of quotidian encounters into luminous moments of wonder. Sharon Dolin’s superb translation from Catalan reveals the power of this historically suppressed language, in the hands of a masterful poet, to offer new ways to understand the world where ‘home is the incorruptible verticality of the wind,’ or ‘the moisture every leaf imagines,’ or ‘the dignity of the body’.


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