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After Ramos Otero: Queer Puerto Rican Poetry

August 2022

Four Puerto Rican poets explore desire, queer bodies, and constructions of the nation, curated and introduced by The Puerto Rico Review editor Cristina Pérez Díaz. Manuel Ramos Otero, the first Puerto Rican writer to have openly turned his gayness into a trope, contributes three poems in Pérez Díaz’s translation. A poem by Xavier Valcárcel re-sculpts the domestic and takes on the patriarchy, translated by Raquel Salas Rivera. Jacqui Cornetta translates three poems by Claudia Becerra about arrivals, departures, and the shores of real and imagined islands. Salas Rivera also translates three of his own poems celebrating the persistence of poets.
Black and white image of Puerto Rico's first openly gay poet Manuel Ramos Otero
Four Puerto Rican Poets Sing of Dust
By Cristina Pérez Díaz
Cristina Pérez Díaz writes about four Puerto Rican poets whose work operates “in the constructions of queer bodies and of the nation.”
Dramatic clouds over a mountain and ocean in Puerto Rico
Photo by Rick Lipsett on Unsplash
Onto Dust We Shall Come
By Manuel Ramos Otero
I return to the world as I depart, / having birthed another phantom, / a dweller of nebulous coasts, / a brief enemy of metaphors.
Translated from Spanish by Cristina Pérez Díaz
A burning match against a blue background
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
Embers Fed
By Xavier Valcárcel
My mother and I will burn it all.
Translated from Spanish by Raquel Salas Rivera
A dock extending into the ocean
Photo by Nikita Castro on Unsplash
[The sea swarms. Your shout extends]
By Claudia Becerra
How likable the island when it isn’t / more than a door that opens outward.
Translated from Spanish by Jacqui Cornetta
Etching of The Rape of Caenis from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' by Antonio Tempesta
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1951
poets per square foot
By Raquel Salas Rivera
we take to the poem, a miracle with no church, with no witness.
Translated from Spanish by the author