The most comprehensive selection of poems in English by Latin America’s legendary poet-activist, Ernesto Cardenal.
With an impressive roster of English-language translators that includes Thomas Merton, poet-priest Cardenal (b. 1925 in Nicaragua) helped Cohen, another of his translators, to select the poems of this anthology. Already known as a poet and critic when Merton inspired him to enter the monastery ("The life of a monk/is a semi-ecstasy and forty years of aridity") at Gethsemane, KY, he emerged a priest in 1965 steeped in liberation theology. In poem after poem, he chipped away at the 45-year reign of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza ("A slave to foreigners/and a tyrant to his people/imposed by intervention") until he was toppled in 1979. Cardenal cites almost as a litany FDR's famous quip about Somoza ("He's an SOB, Mr. Welles, but he's ours"). More recent poems exhibit scientific mysticism ("Why say universe, as though it were only one/and not pluriverse?") and political maturity ("Evil is because God made man free/Because creation wasn't fascist"). In the interest of making room for more translations in this anthology, Cardenal himself requested that the bilingual format be dropped. Essential for poetry and Latin American collections.
Meet the Author
Ernesto Cardenal was born in 1925 in Granada, Nicaragua. Revolutionary activist, disciple of Thomas Merton, Roman Catholic priest, founder of the contemplative commune Our Lady of Solentiname, ambassador for the Sandinistas, Minister of Culture in post-Somoza Nicaragua, and co-founder of the international cultural center House of Three Worlds, Cardenal, on his eightieth birthday, was given the nation's highest cultural honor, the Order of Rubén Darío, by President Enrique Bolaños in 2005. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.
Jonathan Cohen is the editor and compiler of William Carlos Williams’ By Word of Mouth: Poems from the Spanish,1916–1959and editor and translator of Ernesto Cardenal’s Pluriverse: New and Selected Poems, both published recently by New Directions.
The poet, publisher, and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born in Yonkers, New York, in 1919, has received the Robert Frost Memorial Medal and the first Literarian Award of the National Book Foundation. He is the subject of Christopher Felver’s new film documentary, Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder.
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