90 Miles: Selected and New Poems

Overview

Ninety miles separate Cuba and Key West, Florida. Crossing that distance, thousands of Cubans have lost their lives. For Cuban American poet Virgil Suárez, that expanse of ocean represents the state of exile, which he has imaginatively bridged in over two decades of compelling poetry.

"Whatever isn't voiced in time drowns," Suárez writes in "River Fable," and the urgency to articulate the complex yearnings of the displaced marks all the poems collected here. 90 Miles contains ...

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Overview

Ninety miles separate Cuba and Key West, Florida. Crossing that distance, thousands of Cubans have lost their lives. For Cuban American poet Virgil Suárez, that expanse of ocean represents the state of exile, which he has imaginatively bridged in over two decades of compelling poetry.

"Whatever isn't voiced in time drowns," Suárez writes in "River Fable," and the urgency to articulate the complex yearnings of the displaced marks all the poems collected here. 90 Miles contains the best work from Suárez's six previous collections: You Come Singing, Garabato, In the Republic of Longing, Palm Crows, Banyan, and Guide to the Blue Tongue, as well as important new poems.

At once meditative, confessional, and political, Suárez's work displays the refracted nature of a life of exile spent in Cuba, Spain, and the United States. Connected through memory and desire, Caribbean palms wave over American junk mail. Cuban mangos rot on Miami hospital trays. William Shakespeare visits Havana. And the ones who left Cuba plant trees of reconciliation with the ones who stayed.

Courageously prolific, Virgil Suárez is one of the most important Latino writers of his generation.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
It is 90 miles from Cuba to Key West, a distance many have died trying to cross. Suarez, a poet, novelist, and memoirist, has worked hard to bridge the gap. After six collections in as many years, Suarez should reach a wider audience with this volume of new and selected work. The core poems are personal narratives of a family and its history-a cast of unforgettable, displaced characters finding their way in Cuba, Spain, and, finally, the United States. Suarez cuts even the most painful moments with wild humor and inventive twists of language. His attention to detail is a delight, and his energetic voice, with the tint of his native tongue, is powerful and compelling. "The best way to eat a mango,/ my father-in-law once told me,/ is in the shower, how juices// run down your chin/ and neck, when the seed slips/ out of your hands like soap// and you bite down on the soft/ meat." In these poems we see the "other America," often full of surprises. Suarez is one of today's more important Latino voices, and this volume should be included in any serious contemporary poetry collection.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822958802
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Pages: 127
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Virgil Suárez was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1962. Since 1974 he has lived in the United States. In addition to his six previous collections of poetry, he is the author of four novels, The Cutter, Latin Jazz, Havana Thursdays, and Going Under, and of the collections of stories Welcome to the Oasis and Other Stories. Two memoirs, Spared Angola: Memories from a Cuban-American Childhood and Infinite Refuge, chronicle his life of exile. He has edited many successful anthologies, including Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction; Little Havana Blues: A Cuban-American Literature Anthology; American Diaspora: Poetry of Displacement; Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America; and Vespers: Contemporary American Poems of Religion and Spirituality. He lives in Florida.

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Table of Contents

Rice comes to El Volcan 3
The nuns in the family 5
Clotheslines 8
Luis Navarro Rubio comes singing 11
White wall 15
The valet's lament 18
Heavy metal speaks 21
Lazarito & the habanero chilis 25
The dirt eaters 26
The hatchery 27
The night trail called El Lechero 29
Mazorra, or house for the incorrigible 31
The seamstress 33
On the assembly line 35
Song for the Royal Palms of Miami 36
Bitterness 41
Free 44
Gallos Finos 46
Cuban American gothic 47
The trouble with frogs 48
A song at the end of the Cuban revolution 49
Song to the Cucuyo 53
Song to the mango 54
Song to the passion fruit 55
Study in shadow 58
Nocturnal 59
Duende 61
In the house of white light 63
The great Chinese poets visit Havana 65
El Exilio 67
The stayer 69
Cancionero del Banyan 73
Beyond a street corner in Little Havana 74
No work poem #1 75
Mango eating in America 76
Recitative after Rembrandt's "The anatomy lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp" 78
The table 80
La tempestad de las palabras blancas 83
Prospero's papermaking recipe 84
The alchemy of self-implosion 85
Prospero in Havana 86
The reconciliation between Los que se fueron y los que se quedaron 87
Curved geometry, a Botero beauty's retrospective 88
Isla 90
At the somnambulists' convention 91
Shakespeare visits Havana 92
The old soothsayer enters Santiago de Cuba 94
American drag rhapsody : J. Edgar Hoover in Havana 96
Indigo Bunting's last molt 101
The exile speaks 102
Poem for Eliades Ochoa, Maestro del alambre dulce 103
La Florida 104
Japanese magnolia 106
The seed collector 107
The burning 109
Tea leaves, Caracoles, coffee beans 111
Orange 113
Purple finch 115
Poet-warrior dance 117
My need of Bruce Weigl 118
Virgil's crib 120
The what of rocks 121
Upon hearing that my poetry is being published "everywhere" 122
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