Dani Gisselbeck

I'm a Spanish and French literary translator with a focus in poetry. Literature is a unique avenue for communicating and exploring the human condition and I think we need more of that work to go beyond our borders. I hope that I can further that effort by working with authors and publishers who feel the same.

Small World

A book of poems by Roly Ávalos Díaz.

Small World by Roly Ávalos Díaz


Small World questions, examines, and exposes our inner workings. With its stark and skeptical vision, we explore what we are made of: meat, bones, in the image of, and with a great similarity to our fellow human beings. In its pages, irregular meter and verse converge (in free verse, prose, decasyllable, octosyllable, or hendecasyllable stanzas…) alongside registers of metaphors exploring the hidden aspects of the human condition, the human being, and the Cuban. Auto-referential, intertextual, occasionally sarcastic, playful, uncomfortable, politically incorrect, and with a strong style choice and breakdown, it lacks subdivisions and titles (the first line of each poem works as such). Content and form coexist in circularity. In Small World, you doubt often, suffer the inescapable ardors of youth and time, and revisit them through identity, family, life, and death. The musicality of its verses leaves you with a sweet and sour taste in your mouth, leaving you with the desire to reread, even though it hurts.


Coming Soon!

Thérèse Raquin

Excerpt from the novel by Émile Zola.

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola

Translation Excerpt

Night fell. The trees cast great shadows and the water was black along the shores. Out in the middle of the river, there stretched a trail of pale silver. The boat would soon be in the heart of the Seine. Here, the sounds of the dock softened; songs and shouts arrived, vague and melancholy, with a sad languor. You could no longer smell the odor of frying food and dust. The chill in the air dragged on and it became cold.

Laurent stopped rowing and left the boat in control of the current.

Opposite of them, the massive red of the islands rose. The shores, a somber brown stained with gray, appeared as two large bands rejoining at the horizon. The water and sky seemed to be cut from the same whitish material. Nothing is more painfully calm than twilight in autumn. Sunbeams pale in the shivering air, the old trees shed their leaves. The countryside, blazed by the intense rays of the summer sun, feels death approach with those first cold winds. And there is, in the skies, a plaintive and hopeless breeze. The night descends from on-high, brought in shrouds of shadow.

The walkers remained quiet. Seated at the back of the boat, cooled by the water, they watched the last glimmer of light as it left the highest branches. They approached the islands. The great red masses transformed into shadows; all of the landscape became simple with dusk; the Seine, the sky, the islands, the hills, no longer brown and gray, faded away in the milky fog.

Camille, who was done sleeping on his stomach, his head just above the water, dipped his hand in the river.

“Gosh! It's cold!” he exclaimed. “It would not be fun to take a dip in that.”

Laurent did not respond. A moment later, he looked anxiously at the two banks of the river; he moved his large hands to his knees, and tightened his lips. Thérèse, stiff, unmoving, her head slightly turned, waited.

The boat had entered a small bend, dark and narrow; they were thrust between two islands. They heard, behind one of the islands, the softened songs of a team of boaters riding up the Seine. In the distance, upstream, the river became free.

Then Laurent rose and took hold of Camille.

The boy roared with laughter.

“Ah! No! You tickle me,” he said, “but I’ll have none of these jokes...Now stop; you're going to make me fall out.”

Laurent tightened his grip further, causing him to tremble. Camille turned and saw the horrifying figure of his friend, all in convulsions. He did not understand; a vague terror took hold of him. He wanted to scream out, and felt the harsh hand tightening around his throat. With the instinct of an animal defending itself, he rose up on his knees, and clung to the edge of the boat. He fought in this way for only seconds.

“Thérèse! Thérèse!” He called in a muffled and wheezing voice.

The young woman watched; both hands gripped tightly to the bench of the rowboat which yielded and danced with the river. She couldn’t close her eyes, a horrifying apprehension kept them open wide, fixed upon the horrible spectacle of the fight. She sat rigid, mute.

“Thérèse! Thérèse!” Again the poor, gasping wretch called.

With this last call, Thérèse broke out in sobs. Her nerves loosened. The attack, which she had dreaded, threw her, quivering, to the bottom of the boat. There she remained, bent over, fainting, practically dead.

Laurent shook Camille, his hand still gripped around his neck. He ended it, pulling Camille off of the boat with the aid of his other hand. He held him in the air, an infant, at the end of his strong arms. As he tilted his head, uncovering his neck, the victim, mad with rage and terror, twisted, advanced his teeth and sunk them in. And then the murderer, suppressing a cry of suffering, launched his victim suddenly into the river, whose teeth had taken out a chunk of flesh.

Camille fell, forcing a scream. He came up out of the water two or three times, his screaming becoming more and more faint.

Laurent did not lose a second. He raised the collar of his jacket to conceal his wound. He held the fainted Thérèse in his arms, and then rocked the boat with a kick, jumping into the Seine while holding his mistress. He held her up above the water, calling for rescue in a pathetic voice.

The boaters, who they had heard just beyond the point of the island before, arrived by great strokes of their oars. They understood that a tragedy had occurred; they carried out the rescue of Thérèse who they laid on a bench, and of Laurent, who began despairing over the death of his friend.

Original Excerpt

Le crépuscule venait. De grandes ombres tombaient des arbres, et les eaux étaient noires sur les bords. Au milieu de la rivière, il y avait de larges traînées d’argent pâle. La barque fut bientôt en pleine Seine. Là, tous les bruits des quais s’adoucissaient ; les chants, les cris arrivaient, vagues et mélancoliques, avec des langueurs tristes. On ne sentait plus l’odeur de friture et de poussière. Des fraîcheurs traînaient. Il faisait froid.

Laurent cessa de ramer et laissa descendre le canot au fil du courant.

En face, se dressait le grand massif rougeâtre des îles. Les deux rives, d’un brun sombre taché de gris, étaient comme deux larges bandes qui allaient se rejoindre à l’horizon. L’eau et le ciel semblaient coupés dans la même étoffe blanchâtre. Rien n’est plus douloureusement calme qu’un crépuscule d’automne. Les rayons pâlissent dans l’air frissonnant, les arbres vieillis jettent leurs feuilles. La campagne, brûlée par les rayons ardents de l’été, sent la mort venir avec les premiers vents froids. Et il y a, dans les cieux, des souffles plaintifs de désespérance. La nuit descend de haut, apportant des linceuls dans son ombre.

Les promeneurs se taisaient. Assis au fond de la barque qui coulait avec l’eau, ils regardaient les dernières lueurs quitter les hautes branches. Ils approchaient des îles. Les grandes masses rougeâtres devenaient sombres ; tout le paysage se simplifiait dans le crépuscule ; la Seine, le ciel, les îles, les coteaux n’étaient plus que des taches brunes et grises qui s’effaçaient au milieu d’un brouillard laiteux.

Camille, qui avait fini par se coucher à plat ventre, la tête au-dessus de l’eau, trempa ses mains dans la rivière.

– Fichtre ! que c’est froid ! s’écria-t-il. Il ne ferait pas bon de piquer une tête dans ce bouillon-là.

Laurent ne répondit pas. Depuis un instant il regardait les deux rives avec inquiétude ; il avançait ses grosses mains sur ses genoux, en serrant les lèvres. Thérèse, roide, immobile, la tête un peu renversée, attendait.

La barque allait s’engager dans un petit bras, sombre et étroit, s’enfonçant entre deux îles. On entendait, derrière l’une des îles, les chants adoucis d’une équipe de canotiers qui devaient remonter la Seine. Au loin, en amont, la rivière était libre.

Alors Laurent se leva et prit Camille à bras-le- corps.

Le commis éclata de rire.

– Ah ! non, tu me chatouilles, dit-il, pas de ces plaisanteries-là... Voyons, finis : tu vas me faire tomber.

Laurent serra plus fort, donna une secousse. Camille se tourna et vit la figure effrayante de son ami, toute convulsionnée. Il ne comprit pas ; une épouvante vague le saisit. Il voulut crier, et sentit une main rude qui le serrait à la gorge. Avec l’instinct d’une bête qui se défend, il se dressa sur les genoux, se cramponnant au bord de la barque. Il lutta ainsi pendant quelques secondes.

– Thérèse ! Thérèse ! appela-t-il d’une voix étouffée et sifflante.

La jeune femme regardait, se tenant des deux mains à un banc du canot qui craquait et dansait sur la rivière. Elle ne pouvait fermer les yeux ; une effrayante contraction les tenait grands ouverts, fixés sur le spectacle horrible de la lutte. Elle était rigide, muette.

– Thérèse ! Thérèse ! appela de nouveau le malheureux qui râlait.

À ce dernier appel, Thérèse éclata en sanglots. Ses nerfs se détendaient. La crise qu’elle redoutait la jeta toute frémissante au fond de la barque. Elle y resta pliée, pâmée, morte.

Laurent secouait toujours Camille, en le serrant d’une main à la gorge. Il finit par l’arracher de la barque à l’aide de son autre main. Il le tenait en l’air, ainsi qu’un enfant, au bout de ses bras vigoureux. Comme il penchait la tête, découvrant le cou, sa victime, folle de rage et d’épouvante, se tordit, avança les dents et les enfonça dans ce cou. Et lorsque le meurtrier, retenant un cri de souffrance, lança brusquement le commis à la rivière, les dents de celui-ci lui emportèrent un morceau de chair.

Camille tomba en poussant un hurlement. Il revint deux ou trois fois sur l’eau, jetant des cris de plus en plus sourds.

Laurent ne perdit pas une seconde. Il releva le collet de son paletot pour cacher sa blessure. Puis, il saisit entre ses bras Thérèse évanouie, fit chavirer le canot d’un coup de pied, et se laissa tomber dans la Seine en tenant sa maîtresse. Il la soutint sur l’eau, appelant au secours d’une voix lamentable.

Les canotiers, dont il avait entendu les chants derrière la pointe de l’île, arrivaient à grands coups de rames. Ils comprirent qu’un malheur venait d’avoir lieu : ils opérèrent le sauvetage de Thérèse qu’ils couchèrent sur un banc, et de Laurent qui se mit à se désespérer de la mort de son ami.

Beneath the Rainbow

A novel by Manuel Tristante.

Beneath the Rainbow by Manuel Tristante


Alexander is a cheerful boy, a lover of reading, and a poet. Raised in a small town where most boys his age have other hobbies and the norm is to have a girlfriend by eighteen, he's always felt that he didn't fit in very well. His life changes drastically when he leaves town to begin his freshman year of college in the city. Despite his optimism upon arrival, destiny will soon test him. Not everything will be joyous. His life will become a myriad of doubts, in which he will only be able to find answers by questioning everything he had previously believed.


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Curriculum Vitae

interest in the translation of literature, poetry, theatre, activist work, and journalism.


  • 2016 B.A. Romance Languages at the University of Maryland, College Park


  • Native English
  • Fluent Spanish
  • Advanced French

Professional Experience

  • 2017 Book Translation: "Simulacrum" by Luisa Fernanda Lindo
  • 2017 Poetry Book Translation: "Small World" by Roly Ávalos Díaz
  • 2017 Book Translation: "Beneath the Rainbow" by Manuel Tristante

Volunteer Experience

  • 2017 Collaborative Translator on "Hija: Literary Daughters in Argentina": a project by "Palabras Errantes"
  • 2016 United Nations Volunteer Translator

Technical Skills

  • OmegaT
  • WordPress
  • Microsoft Office

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Get in touch

Please let me know if you have any questions or are interested in working with me.

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