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November 2011

Writing from the Caribbean

This month we present literature from the Caribbean. Writers from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Martinique, and Puerto Rico contribute compelling portraits of their countries and societies. From sober reports on natural disasters and political oppression to antic depictions of sexuality run amok, the pieces collected here testify to the range and vitality of this region's writers. Haiti's Dany Laferrière reports from the rubble of the 2010 earthquake. In an excerpt from his Prix Goncourt-shortlisted novel, Lyonel Trouillot sends a young woman in search of her family history. Cuba's Jorge Olivera Castillo brings a nightmare to life. His countryman Omar Pérez performs a lively regguetón. From Martinique, Suzanne Dracius rides with Amazons, while Johan Moya Ramis struggles with an unruly body part. Évelyne Trouillot gives voice to a madwoman on a turbulent journey. Puerto Rico's Juan Flores presents a tap-dancing sage, while José María Lima speaks from the grave. In poetry from the Dominican Republic, Frank Baez paints a self-portrait, José Mármol communes with nature, and Aurora Arias comes full circle. We trust you'll enjoy this island tour.

Sketch in October
By Tomas Tranströmer
It’s a heavy burnt-out lamp, tipped over in the cold.
The World is Moving Around Me
My Nephew I stepped out into the yard with my nephew. The little shacks on the other side of the ravine stood up to the earthquake. The old wall collapsed. We sit on the hood of the car. “I’m…
Translated from French
There is No Theorem (A Regguetón)
There is no theorem just the combination 10,000 years of going with digressions: I write regguetones, forget the variation. There is no theorem from the mist itself the primates descend in search of phonemes…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
The Other Day After the Rain
I. Once again, the erection. The body’s first signal, heaving me back into reality every time I awake. The Hebrew Kabbalists say that during the night God takes souls on a mystical journey; the…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
from “La Belle Amour Humaine”
There are seven hours of road between the noise and the silence. Between here in the capital and Anse-à-Fôleur. I suppose it's the same where you come from, one town after another and…
Translated from French
Multilingual
Self-Portrait
By Frank Baez
The neighbors dream of shooting me.
Translated from Spanish by Hoyt Rogers
Multilingual
Brine, Blood, and Mother’s Milk
By Évelyne Trouillot
For the woman with bound hands, a vacant stare, and an impudent bottom, whom I glimpsed at Corail one morning during the season of stormsI’ve turned my skin inside out, but I can still feel the…
Translated from French by Paul Curtis Daw
Multilingual
The Crane
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,…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
Spider
Your long years of service in this institution entitle you to at least this one privilege. You get your double espresso in a real cup over the heads of the students crowded around the counter, and you…
Translated from Hebrew
No Way Out: Talking to Orly Castel-Bloom, Agur Schiff, and Moshe Ron
Orly Castel-Bloom is getting ready to leave. “I’ll buy an apartment in Montpelier,” she said. “I’ll write policiers. I’ll tell the French about themselves. They love…
Deus ex Machina
Throw the dice, Lord, your turn has come and it is winter. The trident is cornered, the mountains covered with a skin of ash. Lord, behold light’s song here, your due, in the stillness of the sea…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
From the Grave of My Grave
from the grave of my grave a hollow-now open advancing my love, her stairs her name, her signs advancing the same. with my brother the vine and its roots lift here and there. stalker-yesterday pretends…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
Alive or Dead
A metal gate bars his path, and thwarts any hope for the pursued. But then he leaps for it, and easily gains the top. It is his instinct of self-preservation that allows him to accomplish this intricately…
Translated from Spanish
Women’s Fantasies
                  For Susanne Rinne It pleases me to straddle a horse and ride like women do in the frescoes of Pompeii…
Translated from French
Multilingual
from “What You Wished For”
By Agur Schiff
The Kid was back. Ziggy heard the dog’s toenails clicking on the floor while he did his usual dance. But for the Kid the dog also added yelps of joy to the ritual. The dog was more attached to the…
Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen
Multilingual
Diary
At eight in the morning I looked at my watch and it was eight o’clock. At nine-thirty I looked at my watch and it was nine-thirty. At eleven in the morning I looked at my watch and it was ten to…
Translated from Hebrew
Invention of the Day
certainty of thursday in flesh. solitude. dry bottle. slow drizzle. brief premonition of wearing down. of earned absences. thursday’s tone in each climate, in each city alike. because time was born…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
Bird’s Nest
Luminous missionaries our sexual bodies perfect as a bird's nest carnivorous, incomparable.   The bodies of virgins hold all the dreams the honeyed bodies of whores hold all the men The bodies…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
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