Breach of Trust/Abuso de confianza
Ángel Escobar with Translation by Kristin Dykstra University of Alabama Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ7390.E786A2 2016 | Dewey Decimal 861.64
Ángel Escobar’s Breach of Trust / Abuso de confianza is known by many as the most devastating book of his poetic generation. It is his first to be offered to an English-speaking audience. Merging personal and collective meditations, these twenty-three poems perform an indictment of violence. Escobar’s poetry delineates lacerations etched on bodies and minds by the sanguinary twentieth century, which unfolded out of a longer modernity spanning the Americas.
Breach of Trust / Abuso de confianza outlived its author, who took his own life in 1997. Brief and implicit appeals for justice and love offset the book’s abject theatricality. Escobar’s tragic masterpiece deftly interweaves themes into a striking synthesis offered in the spirit of survival.
Award-winning translator Kristin Dykstra introduces this collection with a comprehensive examination of Escobar’s life, work, and the times within which he wrote. Dykstra situates Escobar’s poetic abjection as his drive to confront thingification face to (non)face.
Alamar, the home of award-winning Cuban poet Juan Carlos Flores, is the setting for his collection, The Counterpunch and Other Horizontal Poems) / El contragolpe (y otros poemas horizontales). Constructed as a self-help community in eastern Havana, Alamar is the largest housing complex in the world. Flores’s highly structured texts, organized into “art galleries,” present prose paintings of a big place in very small form.
Flores builds a poetic landscape with repeating structures that mirror Alamar’s five-floor walkups. Exploring life and dream on the flat surfaces of the poems, he gives fleeting glimpses of perception and survival at the urban margins. As the poet ages, so ages Alamar itself. Yet both find renewal through poetry.
The eighty poems in this bilingual edition offer the first English translation of a complete Flores collection. It will also be of interest to Spanish-language readers seeking access to Cuban literature abroad. Award-winning scholar and translator Kristin Dykstra has compiled an introduction in which she presents Flores, his literary contexts, and references in his poems. Because Flores made specific requests regarding translation, fascinating notes also clarify and expound on choices Dykstra makes in the English version.
A deluxe edition with a handmade, limited-edition color linocut print, including a letterpress-printed poem signed by the author, is available directly from the University of Alabama Press.
Published in Spanish as Otras cartas a Milena, Other Letters to Milena shows Rodríguez confronting pressing issues at the turn of the twenty-first century. These involve a new post-Soviet world and the realities of diasporic existence, which have a profound effect even on people like Rodríguez who have not migrated but continue to live and work in their home nation. The book’s title references Franz Kafka, whose Letters to Milena was published after his death in 1952. This signals that Rodríguez participates in her city’s long cosmopolitan tradition asserted by Cuban writers and scholars of Cuban literature. Rodríguez’s youngest daughter, featured most prominently in the letters making up the collection’s centerpiece, “A Girl’s Story,” was named after Milena Jesenská, the recipient of Kafka’s letters.
With the poems provided in a bilingual format, the collection will be of interest both to English readers in general (this will be the first English translation of a complete Rodríguez collection not excerpted from a larger work) and to Spanish readers unable to obtain the collection in any form, given the difficulty of distributing Cuban literature outside that country.
As an introduction to the book, Dykstra has included a critical commentary. It clarifies many of the author’s references, such as details pertaining to her family history—items Dykstra learned during lengthy discussions with the author about her work—and influences about her choices in the translation.
Available directly from the University of Alabama Press is a deluxe edition that includes a handmade, limited-edition color linocut print and letterpress-printed poem signed by both Rodríguez and artist Alejandro Sainz. To purchase a copy of this unique item, select the "Other Book" above.
The World as Presence/El mundo como ser
Marcelo Morales, Introduced and Translated by Kristin Dykstra University of Alabama Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ7392.M4694A2 2016 | Dewey Decimal 861.7
Marcelo Morales’s The World as Presence/El mundo como ser showcases, for the first time in English, a challenging, bold, and vivid new voice in Cuban literature.
Marcelo Morales was born in Cuba in 1977. He is an established, prize-winning writer, yet he is younger in comparison to most of the Cuban poets known internationally, many of whom were born prior to the 1959 revolution. While older generations of Cuban poets have wrestled in their work with social and political critique, those critiques have often been articulated through formal experimentation and abstraction, unsurprising given the censorship and the real threats of punishment that dissident writers have faced. Morales, however, directly interrogates both the Cuban past and present. References to many significant moments, people, and issues in Cuban history and culture can be found throughout his work.
Along with references to the activist group “The White Ladies,” the 1976 bombing of Cuban Airlines Flight 455, and the military aid that Cubans provided to Angola during its fight for independence, Morales’s poetry follows a timeline ranging from Martí to Guevara to the day of the 2014 announcement by Obama and Castro that diplomatic relations between the two nations would finally be restored. As Cuba experiences a series of historically remarkable transitions, Morales emerges from this context to offer an incisive poetic account of this critical moment in Cuban, as well as world, history.
The World as Presence/El mundo como ser is both the debut of this work in any language and the first English translation of a complete Morales collection. Given the bilingual format, this book will be of interest both to English and Spanish readers.