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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)
By Omar Pérez
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 by Kristin Dykstra
The Other Day After the Rain
By Johan Moya Ramis
He throws the arm with the machete around my shoulders, the edge of the blade scant centimeters from my neck.
Translated from Spanish by David Iaconangelo
from “La Belle Amour Humaine”
By Lyonel Trouillot
Now that I no longer see, I see no better use of my presence in this world than to look out the window.
Translated from French by Linda Coverdale
By Frank Baez
The neighbors dream of shooting me.
Translated from Spanish by Hoyt Rogers
Brine, Blood, and Mother’s Milk
By Évelyne Trouillot
I still tremble from the child's furtive attention.
Translated from French by Paul Curtis Daw
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
By Moshe Ron
Nor did the female members of that tiny minority of your loyal following escape your sleazy attentions.
Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen
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
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
Alive or Dead
By Jorge Olivera Castillo
One of the dogs goes for him as if there were nothing between them to block its way.
Translated from Spanish by Amanda Hopkinson
Women’s Fantasies
By Suzanne Dracius
                  For Susanne RinneIt pleases me to straddle a horse and ridelike women do in the frescoes of Pompeiiin…
Translated from French by Nancy Naomi Carlson
from “What You Wished For”
By Agur Schiff
There was, for example, his fascinating report of how he trained a wolf pup while hiding out as a partisan in the woods near Minsk.
Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen
By Orly Castel-Bloom
I told myself that here, sitting right across from me, was a real murderer, even if he had only murdered Bonnie.
Translated from Hebrew by Joe Lockard
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
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