If we’re directly translating the word duende, it comes up something like a “quality of passion and inspiration” and in that sense, a collection of poems is the perfect vehicle express this idea. There’s a secondary definition of a “spirit” which also works. So when I think about these terms, what comes to mind for me is something ineffable and non-representable, in the sense of a kind Lyotard understanding of representation.
So what do you capture then when you write a poem about something completely ineffable?
I think that’s the question that Tracy K Smith is grappling with here in this collection that looks at spaces of family, desire, language, emotion, and other equally ineffable subjects.