Discussion Group: Poetry as Choreography: Translating Dance with Susana Thénon and Iris Scaccheri

Susana Thénon (Buenos Aires, 1935-1991) was a singular voice within Argentine literature. Most acclaimed for her poetry, which blended high culture and the classics with profanity and sharp political commentary, she was also a translator and photographer, two practices that transformed her creative life. In 1982, some years into a lengthy hiatus from publishing poetry—her last collection had been published in 1967—she met the modern dancer Iris Scaccheri (La Plata, 1949-Buenos Aires, 2014), sparking a fruitful artistic collaboration. In 1984 Thénon published distancias [distances], and dedicated it to three women: her friend, the critic Ana María Barrenechea; her translator, Renata Treitel; and Scaccheri, who was credited with providing ‘the definitive vision to revise and complete this work, the duration of which tended dangerously towards the interminable.’ Furthermore, in 1988, Thénon published a photobook, On Iris Scaccheri, with portraits of the dancer. This would be Thénon’s last publication before her death in 1991. In this talk, I will examine Scaccheri’s influence on Thénon’s poetic production, looking at the landmark collection distancias, while also considering how poetry was influential for Scaccheri’s own artistic practice. Drawing on theories of intermediality, we will consider the translational relationship between dance, photography, and poetry in Thénon’s work, and examine how the interaction between poetry and dance encourages a reconfiguration of the poetic.


Georgina Fooks is a DPhil candidate in Medieval and Modern Languages (Spanish) at Oxford, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Clarendon Fund and the Trinity Christie Miller Scholarship. Her research explores the idea of a translational poetics, researching two Argentine poets who move between languages and images in order to create expanded networks of expression. Her research interests include queer and postcolonial literature in Latin America, translation, and the visual arts. She is also a practising translator, having studied poetry translation at the BCLT Summer School, and she co-convenes the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (OCCT) Discussion Group.