With Houston being so diverse of a city and the Heights especially so, it’s no surprise that Heights native Bianca Broman would be inspired to seek out more of other rich cultures. This intrigue brought her to Argentina and gave her the opportunity to translate a book of poetry by Inés Zanini from Castilian Spanish into English.
“I grew up in a time when living in inner city Houston meant living with a lot of diversity. My friends spoke Spanish, their parents spoke Spanish, so I was always surrounded by it,” Broman said, “It’s that diversity in Houston that has inspired me to learn different languages. It had a positive effect on me to have an open heart and mind and to see things from different angles.”
Originally a bilingual education major, Broman switched to geology with a minor in modern languages (Spanish emphasis with some Portuguese, French, and Latin). Though she is now continuing her Master’s degree in the sciences, the Spanish language and culture are still an important part of her life.
While doing her Bachelor’s, Broman got the opportunity to study abroad and that brought her to the city of Buenos Aires. She was looking forward to the language, food, culture, and more specifically, the tango.
But that was just her first taste of the Argentinean life. She’d choose to return to the country two years later for a work-study internship program where she would teach English to all ages in various parts of La Provincia de Buenos Aires. She lived with different host families as she moved around different areas teaching as a guest at various English institutes.
It was in El Triunfo, a small country town within the Province of Buenos Aires, while teaching an adult class, Broman met Inés Zanini.
“[Zanini] was a vivacious student. As a professor of Castilian Spanish and Literature at the local university, she was passionate about the power of words. She was interested in learning English, although her previous exposure to the language was minimal. She always brought a wonderful energy to the classes. One day, she arrived with a stack of books. She handed out a few, then gave me three,” Broman said.
Broman thought at first that they were for her to just look through, so she flipped through them and tried to return them, but when she tried to give the books back, Zanini made it clear that they were a gift for her.
“I couldn’t read them right away, so I put them in my backpack,” Broman said, “then later on my travels across the country, somewhere in the Andes, I revisited the books. They turned out to be her personal books of poetry. The first in the saga: Agitando Suenos (Rustling Dreams), is where I began. I began to read and immediately realized how much culture, emotion and intellect were in the poems. I could see the influence of Borges in her writing, and her descriptive imagery was absolutely enthralling. All I could think was, how can I help her share her work with people from my world?”
A lot of Zanini’s poetry is about her Castilian background, while Argentinean culture abounds within the lines of verse. After spending so much time immersed in the atmosphere of Argentina, the poems held a special place in Broman’s heart.
Zanini was in favor of Broman translating her book of poetry, which in Castilian Spanish is Agitando Sueños and Broman translated to Rustling Dreams.
There are a few differences between Spanish and Castilian Spanish. Argentineans don’t use the Spanish word “Tu,” but rather “Vos” to refer to second person singular. Furthermore, certain well-known stem changing verbs, such as “querer” do not change stems in the Argentine Spanish. Instead of “Tu quieres” they would say “Vos querés.” The language is heavily influenced by Italian, and therefore has a certain accent when spoken as well as regional dialects and colloquialisms.
“Translating is pretty direct, but colloquialisms particular to Argentina were the real challenge – not impossible, certainly, but definitely challenging. Think of Borges, and how rich his words are even in the English translation. With a writing style influenced heavily by Borges, Horacio, Cortazar, and Lorca, her words are certainly worth a read,” Broman said.
After conferring with Zanini on the translation they decided to seek publishing in the U.S. and were successful. It can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as Rustling Dreams. Later this year the poetry book in its original language will be made available in the states as well. The book will also be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. “We are currently working on a deal where if you buy one you can get the second half off, so that the reader is encouraged to have both the original and the translated copy.”
Broman was also excited to talk about how Zanini is looking to come to the States to offer classes and share her Argentinean culture and language with interested students and poetry fans. These classes would be open to anyone interested in expanding their horizons through culture and language.