New Translated Poetry Picks That Mirror True Life

Check out these three translated poetry picks that invite us to walk alongside different life experiences in the latest edition of Three to Read.

Poetry & Drama Recommendations Three To Read
Bookstr's Three to Read logo with 3 translated poetry titles: Phantom Pain Wings, Balam and Lluvia’s House, and How to Love in Sanskrit from left to right.

This April, we’re celebrating National Poetry Month! From rhymes to cadence, poetry continues to push storytelling in unique ways. Poets from all over the world express their thoughts, ideas, and creativity through their writing. While we may not always have the opportunity to learn a new language, this week’s Three to Read picks invites us into new places with the help of incredible translators to tell these stories.


Phantom Pain Wings by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi

Book cover with image of feathery wings on a pink background, with the title of Phantom Pain Wings on the top right corner.


Utilizing a combination of folklore and contemporary writing, Kim Hyesoon showcases a collection of poems that give readers a look into different accounts of war trauma and feelings of grief. Much like her titular poem, Phantom Pain Wings, a character named Bird is personified and is plagued with haunting dreams with the pulse of anxiousness, knowing that there’s nowhere to hide. Kim Hyesoon’s work follows “bird ventriloquy” to dive into themes of power.


If you love powerful imagery that mirrors real life, this recent US National Book Critics Circle Award winner is just for you. With poetry filled with energy and emotion, Phantom Pain Wings allows readers to immerse themselves in a new landscape, as Kim Hyesoon adds to her incredible collection of feminist poetry.


Balam and Lluvia’s House by Julio Serrano Echeverría, translated by Lawrence Schimel

Characters Balam and Lluvia are sen from their open window on the book cover of Balam and Lluvia’s House, with their house filling the book cover. there are several trees outside their home.


Follow siblings Balam and Lluvia as they face their day-to-day adventures. Their house is a character of its own as readers experience the garden, the food, the fireflies that circle their home, and even the farewells that one must make to dearly loved pets. This is a story of childhood and the simple things that can make a big story. This is the very first work of author Julio Serrano Echeverría that has been translated into English.


For readers who need a break from worldbuilding and just want a slice of life with a hint of nostalgia for their childhood, Balam and Lluvia’s House does an incredible job of providing vivid pictures, even in the simplicity of the subject matter. This makes sense for childhood though: sometimes the most mundane objects could become magical if we just add a bit of imagination to our everyday lives.


How to Love in Sanskrit edited and translated by Anusha Rao and Suhas Mahesh

Book cover for How to love in Sanskrit is written in red letters on a yellow background, with a mirrored image of a person and bird on the top and bottom of the cover.


Love can look like many things. From a fond look to piecing a broken heart back together to learning that the right decision is to let go — these are the different motions people go through in love. The journey of the highs and lows (and everything in between) unfolds through verses and prose in this stunning collection, inviting readers everywhere to be introduced to the wonders of Sanskrit love poems.


For the romantics (and perhaps even those who despise love), there’s a little something for everyone. It’s not always about the happy ending or the giddy feelings. However, there is still love amid the lows. How very fitting it is that love can be portrayed in such beautiful words through poetry. If you want to see love through a different lens, How to Love in Sanskrit is for you!

Translated work gives us readers an insight into cultures and writers that we may not know about, and it also allows us to see the many ways that we can find similarities in our day-to-day experiences of life.

Want more recommendations? Check out last week’s Three to Read here!

You can find these books and more on our Bookstr Three to Read Bookshop page!