Hélène Cardona

Helene Cardona (Poetry, Translation) | Los Angeles, CA

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Hélène Cardona is a poet, literary translator and actor, the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Hemingway Grant and the USA Best Book Award. Her books include three poetry collections, most recently Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry), and Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry); and three translations: Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press), Ce que nous portons (by Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for Iowa International Writing Program’s WhitmanWeb. She is co-International editor of Plume, co-edits Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics, contributes essays to The London Magazine, and is co-producer of the documentary Pablo Neruda: The Poet’s Calling.

She holds a Master’s in American Literature from the Sorbonne, taught at Hamilton College & Loyola Marymount University, and received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut & Universidad Internacional de Andalucía. Publications include Washington Square, Poetry International, Irish Literary Times, The Warwick Review, World Literature Today, The Los Angeles Review & elsewhere.


Life in Suspension (Salmon Poetry, 2016). Bilingual. English/French. Poetry.
Beyond Elsewhere (White Pine Press, 2016). Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac. Poetry Translation.
Ce que nous portons (Editions du Cygne, 2014). Dorianne Laux. French. Poetry Translation.

Dreaming My Animal Selves (Salmon Poetry, 2013). Bilingual. English/French. Poetry.
The Astonished Universe (Red Hen Press, 2006). Poetry.

Press & Reviews

Dappled with transparent imagery, like the Mediterranean sunlight shegrew up with, Hélène Cardona’s poems offer a vivid self-portrait as scholar, seer and muse.
— John Ashbery

Hélène Cardona keenly understands poetry’s insistence that we slow down, downshifting into a more measured and conscious pace. Her powerful poems are written line by certain line, which is how her readers gratefully experience them.
— Billy Collins

“In this bilingual edition of her poems Hélène Cardona is our contemporary ecstatic, time-traveler, and shape-shifter. Behind the dreamlike atmosphere of her poems lies a fierce will to discover beauty, to resurrect ancient enchantments, and to defend enigmas of the spirit. ‘I like transforming into an animal, / devouring who I was,’ she writes. Her luminous poems celebrate the imagination’s power to dignify and exalt our highest yearnings.”
— Lee Upton

Hélène Cardona tells us that the poems of Life in Suspension were first conceived in English, then rendered into French. Yet for such a many-languaged mind as hers, the translations must have been there from the beginning. It seems, in any case, that each poem fully exists in two tongues at once, and this adds to the book’s great charm and visionary quality.
— Richard Wilbur

“The poems are wonderful and in so many ways continue the vision and conversation of my favorite poet, the DH Lawrence of Birds, Beasts & Flowers.
— Donald Revell

“These spare, open-hearted poems reveal Hélène Cardona’s astonished universe and give us a ‘glimpse into a world full of light’.”
— Dorianne Laux

Hélène Cardona is a woman of many languages. You will hear the tones of an elegy, a prayer, and most of all, the fairy-tale. I was moved by these pieces. As Hélène shows us, together with Hafiz, “this place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”
— Ilya Kaminsky

This is the language of transcendence, of mythological and Jungian dream analysis that allows us to perceive parts of the self that are both lost and found in symbolic language. Anyone who has grieved the loss of childhood experience, of treasured places far away, or of a loved one close to home can appreciate the sensitivity with which the poet conveys her longing to recapture these losses in art.
— Erna Cooper, World Literature Today

I admire Cardona’s skillful use of form to literally enact the content of the poem. Just as the speaker exists in a constant state of becoming, so too does the poem, particularly as it is ferried from language to language, made to inhabit vastly different syntaxes and adhere to their underlying logic. In many ways, Cardona suggests a parallel between the poem and the individual self, particularly as the speaker is constructed and then reconstructed by language…By placing the same speaker within multiple literary, cultural, and sonic landscapes, she gestures at the possibility of an identity that exists apart from and beyond a specific culture, language, or politics, a thought-provoking claim that is made as much through form as it is through content. In short, this is a stunning collection, and Cardona is a poet to watch.
— Kristina Marie Darling, The Iowa Review

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