Poet & Translator
‘Poetry is the other voice’, wrote Octavio Paz, referring to what is re-created in silence, beyond history, and to what governs man’s conversations and etymological thrusts. Michael Lee Rattigan also has been seeking to pinpoint that ‘other’ voice, as each of his poems seems to exist only to advance silence, or at least our unmediated access to it—for this poet does not shape a merely verbal language, but establishes an impalpable syntax of listening. In this collection, he succeeds in crossing what the poet Philippe Jaccottet described as ‘the unique uncrossable space’, a no-place of conflicting truths, a living territory of the soul and of the poetic mind, on which the imagination can be projected anew.
For the first time in English, readers can now evaluate the extraordinary breadth of César Vallejo’s diverse oeuvre that, in addition to poetry, includes magazine and newspaper articles, chronicles, political reports, fictions, plays, letters, and notebooks. Edited by the translator Joseph Mulligan, Selected Writings follows Vallejo down his many winding roads, from Santiago de Chuco in highland Peru, to the coastal cities of Trujillo and Lima, on to Paris, Madrid, Moscow, and Leningrad. This repeated border-crossing also plays out on the textual level, as Vallejo wrote prolifically across genres and, in many cases, created poetic space in extra-literary modes.
The poems in Liminal surge in "a cacophony of tongues," the "mutter and pattern" of thoughts conscious and subconscious heightened, ephemeral, "unlost" and "unparched." This is a landscape that transcends, paradoxically disperses and holds the "infinite self." A celebration.
Rufus Books, 2012
Unearthed from the legendary trunk containing Fernando Pessoa's literary oeuvre, the poems of one of his most celebrated heteronyms, Alberto Caerio, are now available for the first time in their entirety in a bilingual Portuguese-English edition.
"To exist is enough to be complete."
At the core of Caeiro's philosophy is the "shocking reality" that everything in nature is individual and distinct—valuable in and of itself without need for embellishment or comparison—be it a flower, a river, or the setting sun.
Maintained in Michael Lee Rattigan's careful and alert translations, Caeiro's distinct philosophy is faithfully rendered and subtly re-worked so that the balance between anticipation and lived reality in the moment is expressed with the greatest tenderness and clarity.
Thomas Crosse, a lesser-known English heteronym of Pessoa's, was entrusted the task of gathering the poems of Caeiro into one for the English-speaking public. Capturing Caeiro's unique voice with an immediacy that is true to the original, Rattigan's sensitive translations have at last succeeded in carrying out Crosse's task.
Rufus Books, 2007
Michael Lee Rattigan
Michael Lee Rattigan was born in Croydon, Surrey of Irish and Anglo-Indian parentage. He took a degree in English and American literature at The University of Kent. He went on to complete postgraduate studies at Trinity College Dublin where he published his first poems and later at the University of London. Between years of study and work he lived and taught in Cancun, Mexico and Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where he began to translate the poems of Fernando Pessoa's heteronym, Alberto Caeiro. During his early years as a teacher, he continued translating the poems of Alberto Caeiro, helped along by the advice of the American-Portuguese writer and translator Richard Zenith. Zenith was later able to add a poem of the heteronym Caeiro, which was discovered pencilled on the flyleaf of a book in Pessoa's personal library in Lisbon. This poem was appended to Rattigan's complete translation of Pessoa's Caeiro poems, which was published by Rufus Books in 2007.
During his time in Mexico, Rattigan was strongly drawn to the work of Octavio Paz, Jaime Sabines, Juan Rulfo, and Rosario Castellanos, as well as to the work of other writers such as Pablo Neruda and Luis Cernuda. The discovery of César Vallejo's works quickened his interest in translating Vallejo's unpublished prose and poetry. This later came to fruition in his collaboration with the scholar Joseph Mulligan and the translation of several articles and letters that went into Selected Works of César Vallejo published by Wesleyan University Press in 2015. He has since been working on the collection Trilce and aims to complete a fresh translation with the poet and translator Mario Domínguez Parra in the near future.
His first collection, a chapbook of poems, Nature Notes: Fragments for an Elegy, was published in 2006 while living in Godstone, Surrey. A full-length collection, Liminal, was later published in 2012, again through Rufus Books. The influence of poets of crucial importance to Rattigan can be identified in subtle and more overt ways throughout this collection: Gerard Manley Hopkins in "Minion;" Arthur Rimbaud in "O Clear Night;" and the tutelary influence of both D.H. Lawrence and Ted Hughes can be felt in "Tryst or Tarantula" and "Nocturne," both of which were written in Mexico in 2000, forming the earliest poems in the collection. Octavio Paz's poem "Solo for two voices" vitally impinges on "Unshadowed," and a translation of the poem "Thanatos" by the Guatemalan poet Alan Mills, quickens another poem of the same name. The following lines from the poem "Autre" were composed by Rattigan in a bookshop in Budapest, a direct response to the poetry of János Pilinszky: "Brilliance / of undiscerning sun— / verbal crater and gaping / presence, while shadowed / bodies drift beyond the page." Various paintings and sayings of his then three-year-old niece, Meadow Carr, also engendered a clutch of poems in the collection.
Rattigan read from Liminal at the Poetry Café in November 2012 and also at Senate House, The University of London in May of the following year.
Rattigan has also supported at readings for The Black Herald press, reading with the poets Paul Stubbs and Heller Levinson to launch the fifth issue of The Black Herald Literary Magazine in 2015. With the release of Hiraeth toward the end of 2016, he was invited by Poets Live to read from the collection, once more at the Berkeley Bookstore in Paris (VIDEO). This collection is bi-lingual, translated into French by Blandine Longre.
Rattigan was the recipient of a grant from the Society of Authors in 2017.
"Michael Lee Rattigan's Hiraeth" by Nick Cooke in The High Window, Autumn 2017.
"Before the Inside: Michael Lee Rattigan's Liminal" by Andrew O’Donnell in The Fiend Journal, October 9, 2012. before The Inside: Michael Lee Rattigan’s ‘Liminal’ | The Fiend (wordpress.com)
"A Cacophony of Tongues: A review of Michael Lee Rattigan's Poetry" by Paul Stubbs, September 2012. https://poetpstubbs.wixsite.com/paulstubbs/a-cacophony-of-tongues-m-l-rattigan
"On Alberto Caeiro" by John Pilling in PN Review, no. 185, January–February 2009. https://www.pnreview.co.uk/cgi-bin/scribe?item_id=4261
Poems in Journals & Magazines
"Mindsight" in The Black Herald blog, December 6, 2020. https://www.blackheraldpress.com/post/mindsight-by-michael-lee-rattigan
"Sword," "Nameless" and "Scene"” in Problématique no. 1, November 7, 2019. https://dinkbooks.wordpress.com/2019/11/07/michael-lee-rattigan-three-poems-problematique-vol-one/
"Standing" and "Tailing" in Silver Pinion, August 2019. https://www.silverpinion.org/2019/08/two-poems-by-michael-lee-rattigan.html
"No Secret," "Clear and True," "Ways of Listening," "Transformed" and "To Sense" in Despatches from the Poetry Wars, April 2019. https://wayback.archive-it.org/12142/20201110152258/https://www.dispatchespoetrywars.com/poetry/5-poems-10/
"Overtaken" in Dodging the Rain, October 1, 2018. https://dodgingtherain.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/michael-lee-rattigan-overtaken/
"Place" in SAND Journal, July 2018.
"Ambrosial," "Enigma," "Vital Sign," "Beginning End" and "Pelucid" in The Black Herald Literary Magazine, no. 5, Spring 2015.
"Movement" and "Unfound" in The Sunday Times, December 1, 2013.
"Unshadowed" in The Black Herald Literary Magazine, no. 3, September 2012.
"Going Vertical," "Favourite Words" and "Chosen Routine" in gobbet online Magazine, February 18, 2012. https://gobbetmag.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/michael-lee-rattigan-3-poems/
"Rye," "April" and "Movement" in The Black Herald Literary Magazine, no. 2, September 2011.
"Thanatos" in Psychic Meatloaf Journal of Contemporary Poetry, no. 2, October 2010.
"Language Minus Zero" in Phati’tude Literary Magazine, vol. 2, no. 1, Spring 2010.
"Rounders," "Nocturne," "Bay Pond" and "With the Boys" in Sentinel Poetry Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 2, January 2009. http://www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/slq2.2/poems/michael_lee_rattigan.htm
Translations in Journals & Magazines
Trilce (I-III) by César Vallejo in Taroumbouroum, no. 4, Spring 2021.
"Selections from Trilce" by César Vallejo in Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, April 2020. https://wayback.archive-it.org/12142/20200822225158/https://www.dispatchespoetrywars.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Michael-Lee-Rattigan-Trilce-for-Despatches.pdf
"Poems" by Fernando Pessoa in Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, April 2019. https://wayback.archive-it.org/12142/20201110171621/https://www.dispatchespoetrywars.com/poetry/fernando-pesssoa-poems-tr-michael-lee-rattigan/
Trilce (XXXVI and XLIV) by César Vallejo in The Black Herald Literary Magazine, no. 5, Spring 2015.
"Detached poems" by Fernando Pessoa in The Black Herald Literary Magazine, no. 4, October 2013.
"A newly discovered poem of Caeiro" by Fernando Pessoa in The Fiend Journal, May 2013. https://thefiendjournal.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/newly-discovered-poem-of-pessoas-caeiro-translation-by-michael-lee-rattigan/
"The State of Spanish Literature" by César Vallejo in The Black Herald Literary Magazine, no. 3, September 2012.
"A Masterly Demonstration of Public Health" by César Vallejo in The Los Angeles Review, Spring 2012.
"It's forbidden to speak to the pilot" by César Vallejo in The Black Herald Literary Magazine, no. 2, September 2011.
"The Uncollected Poems of Alberto Caeiro" by Fernando Pessoa in Asymptote Journal, April 2011. https://www.asymptotejournal.com/poetry/fernando-pessoa-the-uncollected-poems-of-alberto-caeiro/
"Words to Europe" by Pablo Neruda in The Los Angeles Review, Spring 2011.
"New Poetry" by César Vallejo in The Fiend Journal, March 12, 2011. https://thefiendjournal.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/new-poetry-prose-fragment-by-cesar-vallejo/
"Making Strange, a note on translation" in The Fiend Journal, October 18, 2010.