The cover of Jon Pineda’s second collection, The Translator’s Diary, which depicts a graceful and nebulous spiral, is eerily reflective of the poems it obscures. Pineda’s poems turn in on themselves, each a pointed and intimate introspection sheathed in the gauze of the lyric, accruing momentum in a sort of ripple effect as the book progresses.
What results is a gradual, initially fragmented but ultimately poignant, deepening: Pineda plays with the notion of translation, widening its meaning to include reflection, memory, illness, and even metaphor. Each poem contains the integrity to stand on its own, but are best taken together, one after the other, as he writes in the collection’s title poem, “each color will form on its own / in the hoarding of fragments, rough // or smooth, carefully pieced together, / until, moment by moment, the image emerges.”
The image that emerges from this spiraling, comprehensive collection is one composed of many fragments: Fear of memory loss and one’s inability to articulate, complex theories of the image, a sister who died too soon. “This elegy / would love to save everything,” Pineda writes, and the book works to weave its pieces into rich tapestry, composing the narrative of a maturing poet, a poet whose images, owing to their haunting persistence, will become a part of the reader’s own narrative.