Rosa Alcalá's impressive work with language takes shape as poetry, essays, criticism. A thread running through through much of her work is translation, though perhaps its presence need not always be announced, or even understood.
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.”
When Vladimir Mayakovsky memorably proclaimed that “without revolutionary form, there is no revolutionary art,” and Renato Poggioli wrote that “the avant-garde image originally remained subordinate, even within the sphere of art, to the ideals of a radicalism which was not cultural but political,” and Marjorie Perloff (now famously) asked “what if, despite the predominance of tepid and unambitious Establishment poetry, there were a powerful avant-garde that takes up, once again, the experimentation of the early twentieth century?,” they weren’t talkin