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The Whole Island

Six Decades of Cuban Poetry, A Bilingual Anthology

Mark Weiss (Editor)

Available worldwide
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Paperback, 624 pages
ISBN: 9780520258945
November 2009
$33.95, £23.95
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Cuba's cultural influence throughout the Western Hemisphere, and especially in the United States, has been disproportionally large for so small a country. This landmark volume is the first comprehensive overview of poetry written over the past sixty years. Presented in a beautiful Spanish-English en face edition, The Whole Island makes available the astonishing achievement of a wide range of Cuban poets, including such well-known figures as Nicolás Guillén, José Lezama Lima, and Nancy Morejón, but also poets widely read in Spanish who remain almost unknown to the English-speaking world—among them Fina García Marruz, José Kozer, Raúl Hernández Novás, and Ángel Escobar—and poets born since the Revolution, like Rogelio Saunders, Omar Pérez, Alessandra Molina, and Javier Marimón. The translations, almost all of them new, convey the intensity and beauty of the accompanying Spanish originals. With their work deeply rooted in Cuban culture, many of these poets—both on and off the island—have been at the center of the political and social changes of this tempestuous period. The poems offered here constitute an essential source for understanding the literature and culture of Cuba, its diaspora, and the Caribbean at large, and provide an unparalleled perspective on what it means to be Cuban.
INTRODUCTION
Cuban Tightrope: Public and Private Lives of the Poets
A Note on the Text

Nicolás Guillén
de El gran zoo|from The Great Zoo
El caribe|The Carib
Guitarra|Guitar
La pajarita de papel|Little Paper Bird
La Osa Mayor|Ursa Major
El Aconcagua|Aconcagua
Los ríos|The Rivers
Señora|Lady
La sed|Thirst
El hambre|Hunger
Las nubes|Clouds
Los vientos|The Winds
El tigre|The Tiger
Ciclón|Hurricane
Ave-Fénix|Phoenix
Lynch|Lynching
KKK|KKK
Las águilas|The Eagles
Luna|Moon
Tenor|Tenor
Reloj|Clock
Aviso|Announcement

Eugenio Florit
Los poetas solos de Manhattan|Poets Alone in Manhattan
Juego|Game
Brujas|Bruges
El eterno|The Eternal
La niebla|The Fog

José Lezama Lima
Pensamientos en la Habana|Thoughts in Havana
Oda a Julián del Casal|Ode to Julián del Casal
Atraviesan la noche|They Pass Through the Night
Las siete alegorías|The Seven Allegories

Virgilio Piñera
Los muertos de la Patria|The Fatherland's Dead
Nunca los dejaré|I Will Never Leave Them
En la puerta de mi vecino . . . |On my neighbor's door . . .
Testamento|Testament
En el Gato Tuerto|At the One-Eyed Cat
Pin, pan, pun|Bang Bang
Quien soy|Who I Am
Una noche|A Night
Bueno, digamos|OK, Let's Say
Y cuando me contó|And When He Told Me
Reversibilidad|Reversibility
Isla|Island

Samuel Feijóo
En la muerte por fuego de Gladys, la joven de los canarios|On the Death by Fire of Gladys, the Young Girl Who Kept Canaries
Tumba con palmas|Tomb with Palm-Trees
Tres blues|Three Blues
Son del loco|The Madman's Son
Caonao adentro|Deep Within the Caonao

Gastón Baquero
Breve viaje nocturno|A Brief Nocturnal Voyage
Pavana para el Emperador|Pavane for the Emperor
El viento en Trieste decía|The Wind in Trieste Told
Los lunes me llamaba Nicanor|On Mondays My Name Was Nicanor
El héroe|The Hero
Fábula|Fable
Charada para Lidia Cabrera|Charada for Lidia Cabrera
Marcel Proust pasea en barca por la bahía de Corinto|Marcel Proust Cruises the Bay of Corinth
El gato personal del conde Cagliostro|Count Cagliostro's Cat
El viajero|The Traveler

Eliseo Diego
Bajo los astros|Beneath the Stars
El oscuro esplendor|The Dark Splendor
En memoria|In Memoriam
Cartagena de Indias|Cartagena of the Indies
Versiones|Versions
La casa del pan|The House of Bread
Riesgos del equilibrista|The Rope Dancer's Risks
La niña en el bosque|The Girl in the Forest
La casa abandonada|The Deserted House
Oda a la joven luz|Ode to the Young Light
Testamento|Testament
Mi madre la oca|Mother Goose
Comienza un lunes|On a Monday
A una muchacha|To a Girl

Cintio Vitier
El bosque de Birnam|Birnam Wood
Plegaria|Prayer

Fina García-Marruz
Visitaciones|Visitations
El momento que más amo|My Favorite Moment
de Gramática inglesa|from English Grammar
Pequeña elegía|Little Elegy
Dígame|Tell Me
Uso de plurales|Use of the Plural
Heraldo|Herald
Adán|Adam
Participios pasivos|Past Participles
Quién ha visto|Who Has Seen
Este libro de gramática|This Grammar Book

Lorenzo García Vega
Variaciones|Variations
En las lágrimas de las focas|In the Seals' Tears
Túnel|Tunnel
El santo del Padre Rector|The Rector's Saint's Day
El viejo Maldoror|Old Maldoror
Con una advertencia|With a Warning
Texto martiano|Martían Text
Buscándome el vacío|Seeking My Void
Ilusión venido a menos|Illusion Come to Naught
Arañazo mediúmnico|Mediumistic Scratch
El extraño rigor|Strange Rigor
Colosal olvido|Colossal Oblivion
Manuscrito para la cajita|Manuscript for the Box
No, vano discurso no es vacío|No, Vain Speech Is Not Empty
Junto al campo de golf|By the Golf Course
Revisando la visión|Revising the Vision
Caluroso el día|Warm Day
Un mandala|A Mandala

Carlos Galindo Lena
Qué hacer si he perdido las llaves. . .|What to do if I've lost the keys . . .
Siempre es bueno recordar a Tebas|It's Always Good to Remember Thebes
Ayer el mar era una ausencia|Yesterday the Sea Was an Absence

Francisco de Oraá
Yo no sé cómo voy a no sé donde|I Don't Know How I'm Going I Don't Know Where
De cómo fue la muerte hallada dentro de una botija|How Death Was Found Inside a Jar
En uso de razón|Of Sound Mind
Ahora quita el agua y pon el sol|Now Take Away the Water and Bring the Sun
Vida de niño|A Boy's Life
Ahogado en el serón|Drowned in the Basket
Sobre las cosas que, si miras bien, ves en el cielo|Concerning the Things That, If You Take a Good Look, You'll See in the Sky
Dos sueños con un ave|Two Dreams of a Bird
Aventura entre niños|Adventure Among Children
Del pescador|Of the Fisherman
De tres fotos de Mella|On Three Photos of Mella

Roberto Branly
Atardecer sobre San Anastasio|Evening Falls on San Anastasio
Pablo Armando Fernández
Nacimiento de Eggo|Birth of Eggo
Rendición de Eshu|Surrender of Eshu
de Suite para Maruja|from Suite for Maruja
La primavera, dices . . . |“Spring,” you say . . .
Cuando anochece . . . |When night begins to fall . . .
Casi siempre, y solos . . . |Almost always, and alone . . .

Roberto Fernández Retamar
Un hombre y una mujer|A Man and a Woman
Felices los normales|Blessèd Are the Normal
Le preguntaron por los persas|Being Asked About the Persians

Fayad Jamís
A veces|Sometimes
Las bodas del hormiguero|The Wedding in the Anthill
Vagabundo del alba|Wanderer of the Dawn
Charlot y la luna|Charlie and the Moon
Por esta libertad|For This Freedom

Heberto Padilla
En tiempos difíciles|In Difficult Times
El discurso del método|Discourse on Method
Oración para el fin de siglo|Prayer for the Turn of the Century
Los poetas cubanos ya no sueñan|Cuban Poets Don't Dream Anymore
Para aconsejar a una dama|To Advise a Lady
Poética|Poetics
Paisajes|Landscapes
El lugar del amor|The Place of Love

José Álvarez Baragaño
Los distritos sonoros|Sonorous Districts
Yo oscuro|Dark Self
Los muertos|The Dead
Revolución color de libertad|Revolution, The Color of Freedom
Nuestro nombre no está escrito . . . |Our name is unwritten . . .

César López
Como en cualquier ciudad . . . |As in any respectable city . . .
El poeta en la ciudad|The Poet in the City

Antón Arrufat
de Repaso final|from Final Revision
Mi familia muerta . . . |My dead family . . .
El gallo que canta . . . |The rooster that sings . . .

José Kozer
Te acuerdas, Sylvia|Sylvia, Do You Remember
Rebrote de Franz Kafka|Kafka Reborn
La dádiva|The Offering
Jerusalén celeste|The Heavenly Jerusalem
Última voluntad|Last Will and Testament
Ánima|Anima
Reino|Dominion
La casa de enfrente|The House Across the Way
Danzonete|Danzonete

Miguel Barnet
Así, la muerte|Death's Like That
Suite cubana|Cuban Suite
Caminando la ciudad|Walking the City
Con pies de gato|On Cat's Feet
Memorándum XIV|Memorandum XIV
En el barrio chino|In Chinatown

Belkis Cuza Malé
Las cenicientas|The Cinderellas
La fuente de plata|The Silver Platter
Caja de Pandora|Pandora's Box
Crítica a la razón impura|Critique of Impure Reason
El ombligo del mundo|The Navel of the World

Nancy Morejón
Parque Central alguna gente (3:00 p.m.)|Some People/Central Park/3:00 P.M.

Luis Rogelio Nogueras
Mujer saliendo del armario|Woman Emerging from the Closet
Un tesoro|A Treasure
Canta|Sing
Don't look back, lonesome boy|Don't Look Back, Lonesome Boy
(Yambos interrumpidos)|(Interrupted Iambs)
Pérdida del poema de amor llamado “Niebla”|Loss of the Poem Called “Mist”
Oración por el hijo que nunca va a nacer|Prayer for the Son Who Will Never Be Born
Un poema|A Poem
El último caso del inspector|The Detective's Last Case
Una muchacha|A Girl
Viaje|Voyage

Lina de Feria
Poema para la mujer que habla sola en el Parque de Calzada|Poem for the Woman Who Talks to Herself in Calzada Park
No es necesario ir a los andenes|You Don't Have to Go onto the Platform
Preámbulo|Preamble

Delfín Prats
No vuelvas a los lugares donde fuiste feliz|Never Return to the Scenes of Your Happiness
Para festejar el ascenso de Ícaro|In Celebration of the Ascent of Icarus
Fábula del cazador y el ciervo|Fable of the Hunter and the Stag
Viento de Patmos|Wind Out of Patmos

Excilia Saldaña
La mujer que ríe y llora|The Woman Who Laughs and Cries

Raúl Hernández Novás
Quién seré sino el tonto|Who Would I Be If Not the Fool
Sobre el nido del cuco|Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Amando Fernández
Descenso de la agonía|Deathwatch
El capitán|The Captain
La estatua|The Statue

Soleida Ríos
Pájaro de La Bruja|The Witch's Bird
Maleva y los niños en el paraíso|Maleva and the Children in Paradise
El texto sucio|Dirty Text
Recogí limones|Gathering Lemons
El camino del cementerio|The Road to the Cemetery

Lourdes Gil
Desvelo de los pájaros anoche|Nightly Insomnia of the Birds
Fata Morgana|Fata Morgana

Reina María Rodríguez
Ellas escriben cartas de amor|Women Write Love Letters
Una mujer se desnuda frente a un profesor estupefacto|A Woman Undresses in Front of a Stupefied Professor
Una muchacha loca como los pájaros|A Girl Mad as Birds
Pescadores (crudo)|Fishermen (Rough)

Abilio Estévez
Las pequeñas cosas|Small Things
Frente al río|Facing the River
Visita del abuelo|Grandfather's Visit

Iraida Iturralde
Claroscuro|Chiaroscuro
El rostro de la nación|The Face of the Nation
Exilio, la sien|Exile, the Brow

Ruth Behar
Carta|Letter
Ofrenda|Offering
El mundo|The World
Un deseo para el año que viene|A New Year's Wish

Ángel Escobar
Las puertas|Doors
El pulgar y el índice|The Thumb and the Index Finger
Hospitales|Hospitals
Los cuatro cuentos|The Four Tales
Otro|Another
La sombra del decir|The Shadow of Speech
La guardería infantil|Daycare Center
Quién le teme a Franz Kafka|Who's Afraid of Franz Kafka
Frente frío|Cold Front

Ramón Fernández Larrea
Poema transitorio|Transitory Poem
Cantando con mi abuelita sobre las piernas|Singing with My Grandmother on My Lap
El país de los elfos|The Land of Elves

Roberto Méndez
Fábula peligrosa|Dangerous Fable
Ensayo sobre la tristeza|Essay on Sorrow
Lo estelar|The Stellar

Rolando Sánchez Mejías
Cálculo de lindes|A Calculus of Boundaries
Rogelio Saunders
Vater Pound|Vater Pound

Ismael González Castañer
de Sábado|from Saturday
Cinco mujeres turcas . . . |Five Turkish women . . .
Vacaciones en el mundo|A Vacation in the World
Mirar y mirar por la ventana|Looking and Looking Through the Window
Viendo construir un puente . . . |Watching them build a bridge . . .

Juan Carlos Flores
Tótem|Totem
El secadero|The Drying Shed
Uno de los blues|One of the Blues
Retrato de una (otra) dama|Portrait of (Another) Lady
El ciclista K|K the Bicyclist
Sírvase usted|Help Yourself
La mosca|The Fly

Pedro Llanes
Nombres de la casa invisible|The Names of the Invisible House

Sigfredo Ariel
La luz, bróder, la luz|The Light, Brother, the Light
La vida ajena|The Other Life
La hora de comer|Dinner Time

Frank Abel Dopico
El correo de la noche|Night Mail
Mercadilla de máscaras|Mask Market
A mi padre|To My Father
Francois Villón|François Villon
Cuando pasan los años|When the Years Pass

Alberto Rodríguez Tosca
Ojos de perro azul|Eyes of the Blue Dog
Suma transitoria|Transitory Sum

Omar Pérez López
Contribuciones a un idea rudimentaria de nación|Contributions to a Rudimentary Idea of a Nation
Cunda, el herrero . . . |Cunda, the blacksmith . . .
Imprecaciones, adivinanzas|Invocations, Riddles
Saludo de los perros|The Dogs' Greeting
Las instituciones místicas del decoro|The Mystical Institutions of Decorum
El loco|The Madman

Antonio José Ponte
Un poco a la manera de Ismael|Somewhat in the Style of Ismael
Sobre el planeta|Regarding the Planet
Canción|Song
Un bosque, una escalera|A Forest, a Stairway
La silla en escapada|Chair on the Run
Augurios|Auguries
Asiento en las ruinas|A Seat in the Ruins

Heriberto Hernández
Las paredes de vidrio|Glass Walls
Fábula del delfín y la sombra del pájaro|Fable of the Dolphin and the Bird's Shadow

Pedro Marqués de Armas
Tú no irás a Troya|You'll Not to Troy
Claro de bosque (semiescrito)|Forest Clearing (Half-Written)

Damaris Calderón
Con el terror del equilibrista|With the Terror of the Tightrope Walker
Ésta será la única mentira en la que siempre creeremos|This Will Be the Only Lie We'll Always Believe
Astillas|Splinters
Huesos fuertes|Strong Bones
La máscara japonesa|The Japanese Mask

Alessandra Molina
As de triunfo|Trump Card
Herbolaria|Herbalist
Ronda infantil|A Childish Round

Carlos A. Aguilera
B, Ce-|B, Ce-

Javier Marimón
Generación espontánea|Spontaneous Generation

Biographies and Notes to the Poems
Translators
Acknowledgments
Credits
Mark Weiss is a poet, translator, publisher, and editor. His publications include six books of poetry; as coeditor, Across the Line/Al otro lado: The Poetry of Baja California; and as translator, Stet: Selected Poems of José Kozer.
“Effectively broaden[s] the sense of poetic terrain outside the United States and also create[s] a superb collection of foreign poems in English. There is nothing else like it.”—The Nation
“This massive bilingual volume is the first comprehensive overview of Cuban poetry written over the past 60 years. Mark Weiss has done an outstanding job of gathering translations. . . It is clear that Cuban poetry is a crucial component of North American Literature. Reading selections from this enormous volume is an immersion in fine poetry and translation and a reminder of how Cuba remains a vital center of artistic expression.”—Bloomsbury Review
“Weiss delicately gathers six decades of Cuban poetry in this bilingual anthology. This literary feat, an act of opposition to censorship, inevitably presents the works of poets who have had to fight for their independence. . . . This is a prized collection of Cuban poetry. Recommended for all libraries and bookstores.”—Library Journal
“This impressive, bilingual anthology is the first comprehensive overview of the Cuban poetic tradition. . . . A useful introduction to little-known riches.”—Latin America Foresight / Foreword Magazine
“A startling triumph. . . . A pipeline for queer Cuban voices, dozens of them.”—Queer New York
“[This anthology] demonstrates the extent to which translation can generate exciting innovations in poetic techniques and form.”—Pleiades
“This bilingual anthology offers an excellent introduction to modern Cuban poetry.”—Review: Lit & Arts Of Americas
“Magnificent anthology.”—Chris Andrews Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“This unique anthology of Cuban poetry in the modern period . . . is invaluable for both its scope and its concern for political and literary context. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice
“Reading this book, you discover a new world of poetry. What could be more exciting than that?”—Poetry Foundation/ Harriet
“Weiss wisely avoids superimposing a political structure on his collection -- an approach supporting an overall impression that each poet find his/her best self in the work itself.”—Ron Slate On The Seawall
LA CASA DEL PAN

“Entra en la nave blanca: mira la mesa donde está la harina-la harina blanca.

“Fuera del pueblo, apenas tuerce el camino a la intemperie, allí está la casa del pan-la nave blanca.

“Donde un negro de sonrisa vaga saca del horno las palas con el pan crujiente. Saca del horno inmenso, quieto, las palas con el pan crujiente.

“¿Desde cuándo estás tú aquí-se le pregunta-, desde cuándo estás entre la harina?

“Responde con veloces zumbas: desde las ceremonias y las máscaras, desde el velamen y las fugas, desde las candelillas y las máquinas, desde los circos y las flautas.

“Desde que se encendió el fuego en el horno.”

THE HOUSE OF BREAD

“Enter the white shop: see the table covered with flour-white flour.

“Outside the town, the path barely twists towards the open air, and there it is, the house of bread-the white shop.

“Where a black with a distant smile removes from the oven palettes of crusty bread. He removes the palettes of crusty bread from the enormous, quiet oven.

“How long have you been here?” you ask him, “how long have you spent with flour?”

“He answers with ready jokes: since ceremonies and masks, since sails and escapes, since tobacco bugs and machines, since circuses and flutes.

“Since they lit the fire in the oven.”

Eliseo Diego

The Whole Island is a masterwork of cartography: a map of what is, for English-language readers, an almost entirely unexplored territory, full of poets—at home or in the diaspora—whom we ought to know.”—Eliot Weinberger

“An uplifting anthology of Cuban poetry that is an excellent and timely resource for scholars and general readers alike. A worthy contribution to the canon.”—Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize Winner

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