El guant de
plàstic rosa
The Pink Plastic Glove
Dolors Miquel

Translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush
Edited by Dominic Jaeckle & Stephen Watts
Tenement #9 / ISBN: 978-1-7393851-0-1
143pp / 140 x 216mm
Designed and typeset by Traven T. Croves
Published 21st July 2023


The Pink Plastic Glove is language fighting for its life, or more appropriately, for its death. It points to what lies beyond language in a way that opens onto the archaic, and in a way that makes you gasp. Dolors Miquel is the grand disappearer of words, with a style so lucid, and savage, that it makes tangible the invisible behind words and the long blank at the end of meaning without ever losing faith in the power of language to do exactly that. I’m struggling to say exactly what the experience of reading this book feels like, which is exactly the effect of this supremely discomfiting book, to be in the un-worded presence, through words themselves, of the sacred. The Pink Plastic Glove is a supreme act of faith and despair.

         David Keenan

Erotic, caustic, uncompromising, alive... 
Dolors Miquel's poems are a pulsating delight.

         Nadia de Vries

Dolors Miquel is a blast of fresh water
irrigating the stony terrain of Catalan poetry.
   Francesc Gelonch

 In a first-time English language translation 
Peter Bush, Tenement Press publishes 
 a bilingual edition of Miquel’s seminal collection,
 awarded the Ausiàs March de Gandia 2016 ... 

Amb l’aspresa del fregall de color verd, com un prat verd, rasco, mentre intento amb la mandíbula serrar el teu nom dins de la cavitat cranial, que ja n’és plena, de noms, i sobre els noms les pedres, i sobre les pedres els continents, i sobre els continents les necròpolis dels astres, quan una pluja intensa ho esborra i em llepa els llavis perquè digui i digui i digui. I no calli més.

I scrub with the green scourer, green as a meadow, while with my jaw I try to etch your name in the cranial cavity, that is already full of names, and on the names stones, and on the stones continents, and on the continents necropolises of stars, when a heavy downpour erases it and licks my lips urging me to speak, speak, speak. And never be silent.

Així que rasco, frego fins que em faig sang i de la sang en neixen roques amb un cor clos al dedins. I de la boca em cau un nom que rodola fins allí on els cavalls llepen l’ombra dels ocells que no poden volar.

And so I scrub, I rub till I bleed and rocks spring from my blood that enclosed a heart. And a name falls from my mouth and rolls down to where horses lick the shadows of birds that cannot fly.

Nadia de Vries reads Miquel’s
‘If I Had Said (Steinian Portrait of a Man in the Sink)’
& ‘Knock, Knock, is Anyone There?’

Life asked Death why he needed her to live /
And Death asked Life why she needed him to die

So begins Miquel’s El guant de plàstic rosa / The Pink Plastic Glove, a lyrical, acute, and metaphysical sequence of poems some fifteen years in the making. At the heart of Miquel’s collection, we’ve a central image. An unnamed man in a state of constant decomposition, rotting away in the kitchen sink. Piece by piece, his slow unbinding underpins a train of images wrought in sensuous, playful, and dynamic language. Stark vignettes spun from everyday colloquy—run through with the aura of Catalonian Renaissance writings—and gilded with a patina of light, a glut of shadow, and a blur of sensory experiences.

El guant de plàstic rosa houses 36 studies of the dynamics of decay. The purr and buzz of bees humming, off-stage asides, slaughtered cows, mountains made of olive stones, the hum of a permanently empty refrigerator, and edible dreams littered with dahlias and roses, with carnations and colourful chrysanthemums... 

Here, sex rattles the bones; Miquel’s pages percolate with love, with life—the subjectivist and social connotations of disease and decay—and on the prospect of mass destruction in a world itself on the brink of a self-inflicted extinction. In Bush’s visceral new translation, this chaos of signifiers sing-speaks its way through the undying days of a century beyond its “sell-by,” and cogitates on life—so furnished with all its illusions and ironies—in an age consistently defined by its constant decline. Bush’s translation is punctuated by photographs by Barcelona based artist and photographer, Helena Gomà.


 A Pink Plastic Glove Arrives : An Assembly of Poems 
 ℅ Montez Press Radio 

An assembly of poems excerpted from The Pink Plastic Glove, with readings in Catalan from Dolors Miquel and in their English-language rendition by poet Nadia de Vries and translator of the Tenement edition, Peter Bush broadcast on Montez Press Radio (New York, NY), 27.09.23.

One day, when I happened to be holding The Pink Plastic Glove, my grandmother, who has lived ninety-eight years and is wiser than all the literary critics I have ever known, used the word ‘miquel’ as a noun: ‘Aquell em fot cada miquel!’ she said, (‘That book gives me such turns!’). It was then I discovered that the word ‘miquel,’ according to the Institute of Catalan Dictionary, meant ‘an unexpected swipe, refusal, reprimand, contempt, scorn, etc. that leaves someone in a bad place, that mortifies and humiliates them.’ That lexical find seemed an appropriate way to enter into Miquel’s project and measure its tone: fierce, cheeky, firm, spare, bitter ... Take, for example, ‘Voluptuous Finale’ in which the wretched dead man resting on his autopsy bed only craves to be buried ‘stark naked with my erect penis marking position 32º latitude North.’ That is, even with both feet on the other side, this poor male can’t give his testosterone a rest, or free himself from the very heterosexual modus operandi practiced by many men and women who have an allergy to hosting a hint of dissidence between their legs, because Miquel doesn’t just hand out gratuitous “miquels” and keep quiet, but calls on women shoring up the patriarchy with their aesthetic and matrimonial submission to savour a spot of disorder.

Laura G. Ortensi, La Lectora 

The Pink Plastic Glove has a complex architecture that works as a series of interwoven poems, but can also be read as a novella or even as the script for a theatrical drama. In the latter guise, the influences derive above all from classical Greek theatre, in which tragic destiny can never be spared the heroes or heroines of antiquity allowing their audiences to experience catharsis by dint of the public suffering and punishment they receive from the gods. The main god in The Pink Plastic Glove is Hades, he of the underworld and death, who hovers over and inside every one of the lines that construct Miquel’s narrative; a poetic voice that finds the corpse of a dead man in her sink, the first of many other cadavers to keep appearing.

Jaume C. Pons Alorda, Nació

 Sant Jordi USA 

Three poems to open the 2023 programme for the Sant Jordi USA (featuring Miquel’s ‘Si jo hagués dit’ / ‘If I Had Said’ (Steinian Portrait of a Man in the Sink), ‘Fregall’ / ‘The Scourer,’ and ‘Ploraneres al tanatori’ / ‘Wailers in the Thanatorium’), with bilingual readings from Dolors Miquel, Peter Bush, and Nadia de Vries.

These readings from The Pink Plastic Glove were aired alongside contributions from Anna Gual, A Kaiser, Gemma Ruiz Palà, Gemma Gorga, Sharon Dolin, Anna Dodas i Noguer, Clyde Moneyhun, Izidora Angel, Yordanka Beleva, Joan Fuster, Mary Ann Newman, Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Hope Campbell Gustafson, Tess Lewis, Irène Némirovsky, Sandra Smith, Patrick Rosal, Keila Vall de la Ville, Wendy Guerra, Nancy Naomi Carlson, Esperanza Hope Snyder, Rosi Song, Paco Solé Parellada, and Bob Davidson. 

Dolors Miquel (Lleida, 18 July 1960) is a leading Catalan poet. From an early age, her distinct and critical voice—as evidenced in her writing for the page and the stage—upset many in her provincial birthplace. Expelled from a school run by nuns, Miquel studied in Barcelona, where she founded the literary magazine La Higiènica and, in the mid-90s, began to publish poems in a variety of styles. In collaboration with other Catalan poets, Miquel would organise week-long tours of small towns (ever keen to perform her works) and her writings—sharp, clear-eyed and ever-political—distill her roving criticality in a poetry that desecrates everything: ‘the Church, politics, and, naturally, the male figure’ (María Eloy García). In Gitana Roc (Llibres Del Segle, 2000), Miquel would express the core of her work as follows: ‘I talk about the damage caused by social structures, such as the family or the police. Love is the most frightening contract of fear, also the most powerful safeguard of society, and sex is the carrot.’ This aura of critique defines Miquel’s extensive bibliography (with over twenty collections under her name to date), and she has received numerous awards, such as the Rosa Leveroni (1989), Ciutat de Barcelona (2005), Gabriel Ferrater (2006), and Ausiàs March de Gandia (2016). She has published numerous collections, among them La dona que mirava la tele / The woman who watched TV (Edicions 62, 2010) and La flor invisible / The invisible flower (Bromera, 2011). Her latest book, Sutura / Suture (Pagès, 2021) is her final work as a poet; Miquel lives and works in Torredembarra, and continues to publish theatrical texts and other writings.

Peter Bush is a translator. His first literary translation was Juan Goytisolo’s Forbidden Territory (North Point Press, 1989) and Bush has to date translated eleven other titles in Goytisolo’s bibliography, including The Marx Family Saga and Exiled from Almost Everywhere. He has translated many Catalan writers including Josep Pla, Mercè Rodoreda, Joan Sales, Najat El Hachmi and Teresa Solana. His most recent effort is A Film (3000 meters) by Víctor Català, the classic 1919 feminist novel set in Barcelona’s criminal underworld. Bush lives and works in Bristol.


Samuel Aranda, Infrahabitatge a la Sagrera, © 2004
Doug Harvey, ‘Heaven’ (I & II)
Dolors Miquel, circa 2021  

The translation of this work
has been supported by the Institut Ramon Llull