Bird, La Bruja

Soleida Ríos, Photo by Kristin Dykstra, 2013
Soleida Ríos, Photo by Kristin Dykstra, 2013

Soleida Ríos (b. 1950 in eastern Cuba) is a remarkable poet from whom comparatively little work is circulating to date in English.  There may be a further delay in terms of book projects in translation, for Ríos lost a translator when Barbara Jamison tragically passed away. 

The death of a translator is a reminder of the small, mortal scale of possibility embedded within these our “global” landscapes.  It’s also a cue to remember, with Esther Allen, that “the translation of a text often depends largely or perhaps wholly on contextual factors that have less to do with the work’s intrinsic value (whatever that might be and however you might measure it) than with encounters between individuals and the shifting cultural and political contexts within which those encounters take place.”[1]

Duras & the cinematic novel

The poet's novel

The first thing you might notice about The Malady of Death is the visual components to this book. It is slim, only sixty pages of text, like many volumes of poems. On each page the font size is larger than most large-print editions of books. I measure the opening capitol “Y” beginning “You” at one-half  of a centimeter. The page that appears the fullest contains one-hundred and sixteen words. A page appearing one of the sparest contains sixty words.  Section breaks appear as multiple paragraph breaks, a multitude of white space, and an occasional asterisk.

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