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Laura Ruiz Montes and Alfredo Zaldivar

April 8, 6pm

Teatro Paraguas, a Santa Fe non-profit dedicated to advancing theatre arts and poetry, and Red Mountain Press, a Santa Fe-based literary publisher, are combining to bring two Cuban poets to Santa Fe, with a reading at Teatro Paraguas on Saturday, April 8 at 6:00 pm. Both of these authors, highly regarded in their own country, will be coming here to launch new books of poetry published in the U.S. by Red Mountain Press. The books will be bilingual editions with Spanish-English translations by Margaret Randall.

Due to the state of political impasse between the U.S. and Cuba, the work of highly talented Cuban poets such as these has seldom found its way to American readers. This project will be an important step in reversing a longstanding, literary disconnect, as well as fostering personal connections and cultural cross-pollination between Cuban and American artists. These are the primary objectives of this project. Both poets expect to share with their American counterparts a candid and detailed picture of the current literary scene in Cuba.

Laura Ruiz Montes from Matanzas, Cuba is senior editor of Ediciones Vigía, a publisher of handmade, limited edition books. Much sought after as a feminist critic and philosopher of Cuban life and literature, the author is also an authority on the tragedy and resistance of black women in the Francophone Caribbean. She has published several collections of poetry, the most recent two having won Cuba’s National Critics Prize for their respective years. Ruiz Montes reflects in her work Cuba’s complex reality in all its subtle nuances. Red Mountain Press will publish her latest work in 2017.

Laura Ruiz Montes was born in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1966. The city is deeply embedded in her DNA and she is a cultural reference there and beyond. Senior editor at Ediciones Vigía, Matanzas’ unique and highly successful publisher of handmade limited edition books, Ruiz Montes is also a much sought-after feminist critic and philosopher of contemporary Cuban life and literature as well as an authority on the tragedy and resistance of Black women in the francophone Caribbean. She has several poetry collections, most recently Otro retorno al país natal and Los frutos ácidos, both of which won Cuba’s National Critic’s Prize for the best book of poetry published in its respective year. Her voice is lyrical but direct, and reflects Cuba’s complex reality in all its subtle nuances. Diapositivas is her most recent collection, published for the first time in this bilingual edition.

Two Poems from Laura Ruiz Montes’ Diapositivas / Transparencies (English Translations by Margaret Randall):

en mayo, julio o diciembre,
lleno de burbujas y juguetes rotos, bombillas que se quemaron, guirnaldas descoloridas.
en enero, marzo o noviembre, con telarañas que cuelgan, como simulacros de nieve.
Con inamovibles bolas de jugar, soldaditos viejos,
desgastadas tapas de pomos plásticos.
en invierno y verano, lluvia o sequía,
bajo huracanes y apagones, con pesebre o sin él.
en medio de la sala,
codeándose con el cactus y la sábila, engañoso, conmovedor, solitario. Que ve crecer a los niños
 y la familia despedirse.
Testigo de bodas y funerales,
sin que nadie se atreva a recogerlo ni guardarlo en su caja,
porque nunca se sabe
en qué día, qué mes o qué año, aparecerá el milagro.

in May, July or December,
covered with broken globes and toys, burnt out bulbs,
discolored wreaths.
in January, March or November, dripping with cobwebs
meant to look like snow.
Bouncing balls fixed to its branches, worn toy soldiers,
old plastic bottle caps.
in winter and summer,
rain and the dry season,
through hurricanes and blackouts, with or without a manger.
in the middle of the living room,
rubbing elbows with cactus and aloe vera, tricking us, touching us, alone.
It watches the children grow
and the family take leave.
Witness to weddings and funerals,
no one dares take it away
and put it in its box,
because one never knows
what day, month or year
the miracle will arrive.

Como ya estaban las armas preparadas
y en verdad no llegaba la guerra;
como nadie bombardeaba
y el ejercicio había sido apr(h)endido de memoria, algunos acabaron disparando al amigo en otra provincia al amante en otro país,
a la madre,
a los hijos,
dentro de la propia casa.

Because the weapons were ready
but war didn’t come;
because nobody started bombing
and the army had been (ex)cised from memory,
some ended up shooting at a friend in another province, a lover in another country,
their mother
or sons and daughters inside their own home.

Alfredo Zaldívar has lived in Matanzas, Cuba since 1973 where he founded the world-renown, handmade book collective,
Ediciones Vigía. He now heads the publishing house, Ediciones Matanzas. Zaldivar’s own poetry combining myth, everyday experience and cultural references that define his time, are further textured with humor and occasional passages of homoeroticism. Zaldívar has been awarded Cuba’s National Editors Prize and holds the Honor of Distinction in National Culture. He has published numerous award-winning collections of poetry over the past twenty-seven years. Red Mountain Press of Santa Fe, NM will be publishing his latest collection, Trillos/Precipicios/Concurrencias Pathways/Precipices/Spectators, in a bilingual edition with translations by Margaret Randall.

Alfredo Zaldívar, born in Sojo Tres, Holguín in 1956, lives in Matanzas since 1973. In 1985 he founded the world-renown handmade book collective Ediciones Vigía, where he worked for fifteen years. He now heads Ediciones Matanzas. Zaldívar’s own poetry combines myth and everyday experience, indignation and metaphor, cultural references that define his time, humor and occasional passages of powerful homoeroticism. In 2012 he was awarded Cuba’s National Editors Prize and holds the high Honor of Distinction in National Culture, among other awards. Zaldívar’s books include: Concilio de las aguas (1989), La vida en ciernes (2002), Esperando a viernes (2009), Rasgado con las manos (2015), and Cuchillos en el aire / Knives in the Air (2015). The Cuban edition of Trillos / precipicios / concurrencias – Pathways / Precipices / Rivalries won the José Jacinto Milanés Bicentenary Extraordinary Poetry Prize in 2014.
 Two poems from Alfredo Zaldívar’s Trillos / Precipicios / Concurrencias - Pathways / Precipices / Rivalries (English Translations: Margaret Randall) 

en un lugar ajeno alguien ajeno a ese lugar copia asuntos ajenos otea
planea algo.
en un lugar ajeno alguien ajeno a ese lugar ve a otro ajeno
copiar, cortar, pegar asuntos ajenos
otea al que otea
planea algo.
alguien oteado, vigilado ajeno a cuanto pasa
al que otea al que otea vigila a alguien que mira
al que hurga en sus predios. danza eterna
de los ojos ajenos en lo ajeno
una miríada de rayos y soles que cruzan se entrecruzan se matan y rematan
silentes como árboles
como los árboles regando sus hojas como los árboles
fijando sus raíces
esparciendo sus ojos.

in a far off place
someone foreign to that place copies distant affairs
looks down
plans something.
in a far off place
someone foreign to that place
sees another foreigner
copying, cutting, pasting
distant affairs
looks down on the one looking down plans something.
someone looks down upon, watches, but distant from what is going on from the one looking down on the one looking down
watches someone who looks at him who works his lands. eternal dance
of distant eyes in distance
a view of lightning and suns crossing and re-crossing killing and leaving for dead silent as trees
like trees shedding their leaves like trees
digging their roots
scattering their eyes.

Perdido en esa miasma de la imagen, reencontrado en sus aguas redentora, busqué palabras en las altas horas. En vano fue pedirle que se bajen
de esa ampulosa catedral que clama por lo eterno. Su cuerda es tan fugaz que aún no he logrado conseguir la paz donde la imagen la palabra llama.
He encontrado que todo se confunde se amalgama en el lapso y en la nada como la ola que en el mar se hunde
mientras pasa la luz y en su cruzada el tiempo pierde porque nunca cunde y la palabra se me vuelve espada.

Lost in those fumes of the image,
found once more in its redemptive waters, through the late hours I searched for words. In vain I asked them to descend
from that bombastic cathedral that prays for the eternal. Its rope is so elusive
I have not been able to find the peace from which the word’s image calls.
I have found it all confusing, dissolving into a lapse of memory or into nothing, like a wave disappearing into the sea
while light goes by and in its crossing time loses because it gives us no warning and my word becomes a sword