The following poem is a selection from Keelan’s translations in this issue of APR, which will be collected in Truth of My Songs: Poems of the Trobairitz, forthcoming from Omnidawn Press in 2015.
The poets who wrote our Book
Are dead and our fiction is their fault.
For they were those who taught
That women are slave and master,
To audiences predisposed to hear;
Our status early met disaster,
And what was posed haunt us to this year.
And because I have more than one mouth to tell,
I tell it well, and as our sister said:
“I do it so it feels like hell.”
The fable goes that good poets
Are always the best lovers,
But the old poems serve to show it—
Love breeds misogyny under covers .
A girl is not a nation,
But the worst would have it so;
The canon a spy’s oblation,
And poets’ lies, culture’s code.
See how the more he strives for love,
Things for Our girl are worse to go.
If you think that girls cause love to go wrong,
Hear the warning in my anti-love song;
A group of men is indeed a club—
Perhaps its time they close their meeting.
Their poems play like opinion polls,
Where different faiths and women alike
Take the blame for what is worst
On earth, assigning the greatest crime
To our mothers, simply for our births.
I’ll say what’s been said before,
By the truth that hides in history—
That each should defend her brothers
And her sisters—it’s no mystery,
Since together we are woman and man,
And with each other have made the race.
But this is my poem where girls come first;
Standing together we make our case,
And as for me, I could have done worse.