Thursday, September 01, 2005

From Out of the Woodwork, Apr. 1, 2005

Some truly exciting news. A bilingual edition of poems by the Nicaraguan poet Francisco Santos (translated by yours truly) is being published by a Costa Rican press, Editorial Lunes... very soon, within the next few months. This project has been on various burners of mine (front, mostly back) for the past seventeen years, ever since I first met Francisco in Toronto, where he still lives, in 1988. At first I translated his poetry for the pure pleasure of it, but after doing a dozen or more highly readable translations, the dream of a book naturally came into view. Since then, I've translated some 40-odd more. The book should run to about 130 pages.

Some of these translations were printed in Indigo, a bilingual literary magazine put out about a decade ago by the Hispanic Studies department of York University, Toronto. However, as neither of us have been all that persistant at submitting to lit magazines (yes, as C.Dale puts it so well, writing and publishing are really not the same... ), Francisco's poems have not, I believe, received the attention they deserve.

Nevertheless, in Nicaragua, Francisco gets a few poems published every few years in La Prensa Literaria (see here and here), the cultural supplement of La Prensa, Managua's most prestigious daily. He has published three books, and was included in the 1975 Anthology of Nicaraguan Poetry (ed. Ernesto Cardinal), and the1974 anthology 7 poetas centroamericanos. He is known in Nicaraguan cultural circles as one of a dozen-odd poets that comprise the largely displaced "Generacion del 60" , poets who emerged from 1960-1975 or so, years marked by war, revolution, and cultural strife.

Editorial Lunes I'm happy to say comes well-recommended, and in Nicaraguan society, well-connected. Over the last four years or so, it has published more than thirty books, nearly all of them poetry; seventeen of these will be launched at Costa Rica's Festival de la poesia coming up in July. Lunes is run by Norberto Salinas, whose most recent poetry collection (also put out by his press) was reviewed by El Nuevo Diario, the other major daily in Managua. Salinas is also coordinator of, a non-profit project whose purpose is to make books by Nicaraguan writers available on the internet (for an article on that, also in El Nuevo Diario, click here). Distribution will be largely up to hands, winds, and of course, electronic winds.

Here is a short poem of Francisco Santos for a taste. Unrepresentative of his later surrealist style, it's neveretheless good for starters. It was written when he was 16:


I'm rich!
I swagger down the streets
allowing my poems to grow --
and my hair
and my beard
(which is almost non-existant)
My shoes are worn down, they're done for
my clothes rag-tag, in tatters
I feel joy
I'm rich
Within me, I bring flowers
My pockets are bursting
with poems

For Hispanophones and -philes, here's the original:


Soy rico
camino por las calles
dejando crecer mis poemas
mis cabellos
mi barba
que casi no me crece
Mis zapatos están gastados
mis ropas luyidas, nistas
y sin embargo
Soy alegre
Soy rico
Llevo conmigo las flores
mis bolsas están llenas
de poemas.

You can look forward to more of his poems on this blog...


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