Ugly Duckling Presse

Letters So That Happiness
Letters So That Happiness

Arnaldo Calveyra

translated by Elizabeth Zuba

Poetry | $14 $10
Spring 2018
Pre-Order"A language of a sustained and unvarying tone that allows us to access volatile capacities."
Argentine poet Arnaldo Calveyra’s first book of poetry, Cartas para que la alegría, tells the story of the author’s one-way journey as a young man from his home in the northern pampas to Buenos Aires in 1950. It was the first leg of a journey that would end in exile. In this gentle, diffuse text in which time and place radiate and recede and spring up many and green, Cartas strikingly anticipates the collusive forces that would shape the rest of his life — dissolution and preservation. The author of over 25 books of literature and theater, Calveyra went on to become a national treasure in his adopted country of France, winning the prestigious award of Commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters in 1999, and eventually, after the fall of the military dictatorship in 1983, equally in his native Argentina. Letters So That Happiness is the first of his works to be translated and published in English.
Excerpt ˇ


Suddenly, how wonderful! I came looking through loose autumn and slowed to a thistle beside the slide piled high with dead leaves. Wild! recently bloomed and gone into the raw milk. I went out running from its side in a trance, from its silent drunkenness I went off with the dogs; "it’s here, it’s here" ... and us and the woken sugar and the breads shared in the celebration.

And now it’s already curded, so white, so much a flourish of pure white, the blue.

I went calmly into the wild thistle, Mama.
Close ˆ

About the Author

Arnaldo Calveyra
Photo credit: Grete Stern, 1952
Argentine poet, novelist and playwright, Arnaldo Calveyra attracted critical attention with his first book of poetry, Cartas para que la alegria; Julio Cortázar, Carlos Mastronardi and Victoria Ocampo were early champions of his work. In 1961, Calveyra accepted a research fellowship in Paris where he would meet his wife Monique Tur and remain for the rest of his life — an exile that was both sweet and bitter in accordance with Argentina’s political landscape. The author of over 25 works of literature and theater, Calveyra was the recipient of numerous honors in his lifetime including France’s highest award for contributions to the arts Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 1999.

About the Translator

Elizabeth Zuba
Elizabeth Zuba is a poet and translator. Her recent translations include Marcel Broodthaers’s Pense-Bête (Granary Books), 10,000 Francs Reward (Printed Matter), While reading the Lorelei (for exhibition MoMA 2016) and Marcel Broodthaers: My Ogre Book Shadow Theater Midnight (Siglio Press) with Maria Gilissen; Nicolás Paris’s Leaves a Trace for The Valise (Library Council of the MoMA); Anouck Durand’s Eternal Friendship (Siglio Press, 2017 French Voices Award); Arnaldo Calveyra’s Letters So That Happiness (Ugly Duckling Presse); and the writings of Erik Satie, Francis Picabia and other contributors to Dada magazine The Blind Man (Ugly Duckling Presse).

Advance Praise

Letters that seems to be written as if by a tree, so much does it breathe quiet and green and up to the clouds ... and sings to us and whistles in our ears for so long following.—Julio Cortázar
The pages of Cartas exhume remote happenings and hazy states of the spirit, a language of a sustained and unvarying tone that allows us to access volatile capacities. It’s easy to feel how Calveyra negotiates expressive dilated forms, with incidental clauses that frequently capsize poetic essence. Attentive to the pure and docile nature he gives to the voices that come from its urgent intimacy, Calveyra dispenses with the heavy appoggiaturas and connectors that are themselves the strictness of logical language.—Carlos Mastronardi, Sur