Pena y Perdida (Grief & Loss)

Video by Winston Plowes (Poetry & Film) and Alicia Fernandez (Voice)

Pena y Pérdida
(Grief & Loss)

No country is really sure 
how many it has lost 
and in Madrid, Spain is recounting its dead in the Ice Palace
Acabo de enterarme de esta triste noticia (I just heard this sad news)
Unable to hold proper funerals 
in the hidden suffering of this tragedy
Mi sentido pésame (My condolences)
Siento mucho su pérdida (I’m really sorry for your loss)
Te acompaño en este momento de dolor (I’m with you in this moment of grief)
Tell us if it is true
¿Necesitas que te ayuden? (Do you need me to help?)
Fué una gran persona (They were a great person)
You don’t deserve the lies
Puedes contar conmigo para lo que necesites (You can count on me for whatever you need)
With a substantial risk of a second wave 
En este momento tan difícil que estas viviendo (In this difficult time you are living)
the faster we learn, the better our chances
Whoever dies 
does not deserve 
to fall into oblivion.


New York Times. Counting Bodies and Pointing Fingers as Spain Tallies Coronavirus Dead

Baselang, Condolences in Spanish: 10 Phrases To Know

Winston Plowes and Alicia Fernandez

3 Questions for Winston

What was your process for creating this work?

I always find the exotic nature of macaronic poems appealing (poems that feature multiple languages) even though I only really have a grasp of English but also wanted to add a layer of translation to this work. In the film the sound effects at the start and end are made from recordings of skating on ice and my own breathing dramatically slowed down. Just as the ice rink in Madrid was repurposed as a temporary morgue at the height of the pandemic, I repurposed Spanish phrases of condolence to express compassion set against such grim facts reported in the news.

What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?

For me, found poetry enables a writer to say something using someone else’s vocabulary and in this case to blend together two different viewpoints to make something completely new. It’s rather like solving a crossword and writing a traditional poem, deciding which words to include or leave out.

What is the significance of this work to you?

I would like this work to be a tribute to everyone who has suffered from the virus, but especially the people of Spain, one of the hardest hit countries in Europe. For this reason I wanted to collaborate with Alicia, a native Spanish speaker. As poets maybe we are creative journalists of the emotions.

3 Questions for Alicia

What was your process for creating this work? What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work? What is the significance of this work to you?

Even though my involvement in producing this piece was limited to assisting Winson in the translation of some of its lines into Spanish, as a professional linguist and translator I was mesmerised by the dynamic effect created by its multilingualism. I believe the transition between languages somewhat emulated the transitions between hope and despair that Spain lived during these difficult times.

In the summer, Winston Plowes is the hare that chases bicycles and beats them all by miles, in the winter he runs a retirement home for lost jigsaw pieces and tunes the family silver. Each week his word art returns home via the pages of journals published worldwide, back to his floating home in Calderdale UK where he lives with his seventeen-year-old cat, ‘Sausage’.

Alicia Fernandez lives in Barcelona, Spain where she is studying a PhD in Comparative Literature at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. She is a poet and spoken word performer.

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