View this article only in English |

Poetry From the November 2011 issue: Writing from the Caribbean


The Crane

La Grulla

Aguardiente comes cheap, meat comes dear (somewhat drunk he tap dances over the wet cobblestones, scoring importance from the conjectured case of fractured bone).

“Young man, you have to stay thin, in top physical shape, in case the great opportunity presents itself, well, good fortune knocks just once at the door of a house.”

“Young man, you have to stay thin, in top physical shape, in case the great opportunity presents itself.”

“Young man, you have to stay thin.”

"Young man, you have to stay standing, on at least one foot."

Aguardiente comes cheap, meat comes dear (somewhat drunk he tap dances over the wet cobblestones, scoring importance from the conjectured case of fractured bone).

© Juan Carlos Flores. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by Kristin Dykstra. All rights reserved.

El aguardiente es barato, la carne es cara, (algo borracho baila tap encima de los adoquines mojados, restándole importancia al hecho conjetural de una fractura de huesos).

"Joven, hay que mantenerse delgado, en plena forma física, por si se presenta la gran ocasión, pues la fortuna, toca solamente una vez a la puerta de casa".

"Joven, hay que mantenerse delgado, en plena forma física, por si se presenta la gran ocasión".

"Joven, hay que mantenerse delgado".

"Joven, hay que mantenerse, en un pie".

El aguardiente es barato, la carne es cara, (algo borracho baila tap encima de los adoquines mojados, restándole importancia al hecho conjetural de una fractura de huesos).

© Juan Carlos Flores.




Juan Carlos FloresJuan Carlos Flores

Juan Carlos Flores was born in Havana in 1962.  For decades he has lived in Alamar, a community in eastern Havana said to be the largest housing project in the world.  Writing as an outsider without university degrees or a job in the Cuban culture industry, Flores is a well-known participant in the cosmopolitan literary culture of Havana.  He is also a foundational figure in the experimental poetry and performance activities that emerged in recent decades in Alamar. 

Characterized by their often painterly minimalism and flexible uses of repetition, his poems are routinely selected for anthologies of the best contemporary Cuban poetry.  In 1990 Flores won the David Prize for his first book of poems, Los pájaros escritos.  His collection Distintos Modos de Cavar un Túnel, the opening of a trilogy he has dedicated to “the poetical resurrection of Alamar,” won the 2002 Julián del Casals prize awarded by Cuba’s national union of artists and writers.

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Kristin DykstraKristin Dykstra

Kristin Dykstra’s translations and commentary are featured in bilingual editions of books by Reina María Rodríguez and Omar Pérez, among them Did You Hear about the Fighting Cat?, Something of the Sacred, Time’s Arrest, and Violet Island and Other Poems.  She is a 2012 NEA Literary Translation Fellow.  Dykstra recently completed a mixed-genre book by Rodríguez, Other Letters to Milena, as well as poetry collections by Ángel Escobar and Juan Carlos Flores.  Samples of her recent work appear in Review:  Literature and Arts of the Americas, Asymptote, Bombay Gin, La Habana Elegante, and theHarvard Review.  She co-edits Mandorla:  New Writing from the Americas with Gabriel Bernal Granados (Mexico City) and Roberto Tejada (Dallas).