NEW FROM SWAN ISLE PRESS, 2010
The Light of Desire / La Luz del Deseo
Marjorie Agosín’s intensely personal long poem The Light of Desire is both a secular and sacred meditation on love and its meanings in the land of Israel. Following the tradition of the Song of Songs and the secular poetry of Sepharad, the beloved in The Light of Desire is both physical and metaphorical. The lovers’ bodies are the paths, the geography, leading not only from desire to sensual pleasure, but to memory and illumination. The light on the pink stones of Jerusalem, the sunlight of Galilee, from hills to the sea, the fragrant air and “mantle of stars,” all become one in this tender, rhapsodic expression of longing and desire. This is not unrequited love, but rather a reciprocal passion that brings exquisite pleasure, pain, a sense of fragility, and the hope and belief in that which is eternal.
The poem was written over a four-year span in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood, overlooking the wall of the Second Temple, and these hallowed surroundings imbued Agosín’s poetic voice. Lori Marie Carlson’s sensitive translation maintains the spirit of the original Spanish in this bilingual edition.
RECENT BILINGUAL EDITIONS FROM SWAN ISLE PRESS
Over the Waves and Other Stories / Sobre las olas y otros cuentos
Appearing for the first time outside of Cuba, this bold collection of short stories provides an intimate and critical view of Afro-Cuba. Inès Marìa Martiatu's stories—presented here in the original Spanish, with facing-page English translations—span postcolonial Cuba of the early twentieth century, the First Republic, the "victorious revolution," and contemporary life in the streets of Havana. Taking real risks as an Afro-Cubana, Martiatu confronts conflicts about identity, race, marginalization, and discrimination.
The history of the Caribbean, as part of the African diaspora, is reflected in the textures of life in Cuba, its music, rituals and myths, the Church and Santerìa, past and present. While race is unquestionably fundamental to the stories, they are at the same time rooted in the universality of the human experience. The vantage is that of an unflinching, yet compassionate observer of society—one who simultaneously turns an introspective mirror on the complicated layers of self.
Frivolous Women and Other Sinners / Frìvolas y pecadoras
Tango and fairy tales mix freely in this seductive, irreverent, and sensual collection of poems. From a city that is at once Buenos Aires and all others, Alicia Borinsky brings to life reluctant mothers, slightly mad teachers, selfless wives, neighborhood witches, best friends, sworn enemies, torturers, vamps, cheats, and lovers—a gallery of characters who wink and boldly gaze back at us. Vignettes become poems and poems become vignettes, reflections that dance, reveal, conceal, enchant, confess, and dream.
Frivolous Women invites us to visit the darker and lighter sides of laughter and love and feel the tenderness of recovered memories as we cross the bridges of relationships and stroll down the mysterious streets of childhood. Alicia Borinsky reminds us that the revelations of poetry are always intimate and dangerous. Cola Franzen’s agile and insightful translation, crafted in close collaboration with the poet, is faithful to the letter and spirit of the original Spanish in this bilingual edition.
Shadows of Your Black Memory
Set during the last years of Spanish rule in Equatorial Guinea, Shadows of Your Black Memory presents the voice of a young African man reflecting on his childhood. Through the idealistic eyes of the nameless protagonist, Donato Ngongo portrays the cultural conflicts between Africa and Spain, ancestral worship competing with Catholicism, and tradition giving way to modernity. The backdrop of a nation moving toward a troubled independence parallels the young man’s internal struggle to define his own identity.
In this bildungsroman, Donato Ndongo masterfully exposes the cultural fissures of his native land. “Spanish Guinea” is a heated, sensual landscape with exotic animals and trees, ancient rituals, ghosts, saints, and sinners. We come to know the narrator’s extended family, the people of his village, merchants, sorcerers, and Catholic priests; we see them critically at times, even humorously, yet always with compassion and a magical dignity. Michael Ugarte’s sensitive translation captures the spirit of the original Spanish prose and makes Ndongo’s powerful, gripping tale available to English-speaking readers for the first time.
Midday with Buñuel: Memories and Sketches, 1973-1983
Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900–83), known for his surrealist themes and unflinching social criticism, was an artist defined by intellectual ambition and controversy. An exile who produced some of his most famous work in Mexico and France during Franco’s dictatorship, he left a complicated imprint on the creative landscape of the twentieth century and on generations of younger filmmakers—including his Mexican friend Claudio Isaac. Drawn from Isaac’s personal papers, Midday with Buñuel: Memories and Sketches, 1973–1983 is an intimate and unconventional portrait of this cinematic icon—and memoir of Isaac’s own artistic development.
The text includes sketches, vignettes, and anecdotes from Isaac’s notebooks, revealing his perspective first as a precocious boy and then as a young man. Isaac reflects on Buñuel’s presence among a community of exiles, artists, actors, writers, and intellectuals in Mexico City. These are at once touching, perceptive, and critical glimpses into Buñuel’s roles as husband and father, friend and colleague, surrealist, philosopher, and iconoclast during his last years. Throughout, Isaac’s words reveal his deep admiration and affection for an older friend full of contradictions. Intimate photographs from the Isaac family archive complement the writing, and Bryan Thomas Scoular’s careful translation makes this text available for the first time in English.
Part biography, part memoir, Midday with Buñuel brings to life the creative milieu of Mexico City and gives readers a privileged view of the relationship between these two filmmakers.
Sombra en plata / Shadow in Silver: A Bilingual Edition.
In her fourth book of poems, Mexican-born Olivia Maciel lyrically evokes another America. She writes with the critical and contemplative eye of a poet, revealing mystery and beauty in places dark and light, near and far. The richly allusive language of Sombra en plata / Shadow in Silver is a terrain at times steep, fevered, and sensual: a harmony of words scented of earth and sky. Her poems are catalysts for transformation, challenging the reader with a vision of a world where myth and the quotidian are intimately intertwined. Exploring complex and unpredictable landscapes, Maciel is both a guide and fellow traveler on a fascinating journey through memories and emotions. Maciel eloquently draws from both collective and personal histories. This new bilingual compilation will be a pleasure to turn to again and again.
Cut from Whole Cloth: An Immigrant Experience
Accomplished businessman Richard J. Franke offers an intimate account of the American immigrant experience, recounting the moving story of his grandparents' struggle to build a new life in turn-of-the-century America.
Franke draws on extensive primary sources to create an engrossing narrative of his Catholic grandfather and Lutheran grandmother as they flee religious intolerance and economic adversity in Germany and immigrate to America in 1884. They settle in Springfield, Illinois, where they start a family and business and live out the American dream--with its attendant perils and promises--as their business evolves from a tailor's shop to a modern, thriving dry cleaner. Their story is one of strife, frustration, and success. Franke chronicles how they struggle to raise a family in a foreign culture with radically different values, as the old world morals that fuel their prosperity give rise to ancient family tensions that haunt each new generation.
By turns charming, wrenching, and poetic, Cut from Whole Cloth is an intensely personal yet timeless tale that will appeal to nearly every descendant of immigrants.
Sebastian's Arrows: Letters and Mementos of Salvador Dalí and Federico García Lorca.
"Let us agree," Federico García Lorca wrote, "that one of man's most beautiful postures is that of St. Sebastian."
"In my 'Saint Sebastian' I remember you," Salvador Dalí replied to García Lorca, referring to the essay on aesthetics that Dalí had just written, " . . . and sometimes I think he is you. Lets see whether Saint Sebastian turns out to be you."
This exchange is but a glimpse into the complex relationship between two renowned and highly influential twentieth-century artists. On the centennial of Dalí's birth, Sebastian's Arrows presents a never-before-published collection of their letters, lectures, and mementos.
Written between 1925 and 1936, the letters and lectures bring to life a passionate friendship marked by a thoughtful dialogue on aesthetics and the constant interaction between poetry and painting. From their student days in Madrid's Residencia de Estudiantes, where the two waged war against cultural "putrefaction" and mocked the sacred cows of Spanish art, Dalí and García Lorca exchanged thoughts on the act of creation, modernity, and the meaning of their art. The volume chronicles how in their poetic skirmishes they sharpened and shaped each other's work--García Lorca defending his verses of absence and elegy and his love of tradition while Dalí argued for his theories of "Clarity" and "Holy Objectivity" and the unsettling logic of Surrealism.
Christopher Maurer's masterful prologue and selection of letters, texts, and images (many generously provided by the Fundacion Gala-Salvador Dalí and Fundacion Federico García Lorca), offer compelling and intimate insights into the lives and work of two iconic artists. The two men had a "tragic, passionate relationship," Dalí once wrote -- a friendship pierced by the arrows of Saint Sebastian.
About the editor and translator:
Christopher Maurer, professor of Spanish at Boston University, is well known for his editions and translations of Federico García Lorca; and has published extensively on sixteenth, seventeenth, and twentieth century Spanish poetry and painting. He is the editor of García Lorca's Collected Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). His most recent book, Fortune's Favorite Child: The Uneasy Life of Walter Anderson (University Press of Mississippi, 2003) won the Eudora Welty Prize and the non-fiction award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.
"In Malambo . . . the Rimac proudly rubs elbows with the freedmen, the cimarrons, and smuggled slaves. . . It runs united to the other subterranean springs underneath Blanket Street, Weaver's Lane, and under Jewish Street . . . and Swordmaker's Lanes."
The Rimac shapes the narrative of this compelling historical novel that probes the brutal clash of ethnicity, religion, and class in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Peru. Set against the backdrop of Spanish colonialism and the Spanish Inquisition in the New World, Malambo peels back the layers of Peru's society to focus on the subtle connections among indigenous peoples-- Africans, Jews, Christians and others--whose cultural fusion pervades Latin American history and culture.
At the heart of the novel is Tomason, an African artist living along the Rimac who paints religious murals for the church and his colonial masters. The intermingling of his Yoruba heritage with his life in a Spanish colony transforms him into a griot figure who unearths the deeper truths of his painful and complex experience by sharing it. Other memorable characters stories intertwine with Tomason's tale, developing a narrative that powerfully reflects on the themes of dislocation and enslavement.
Malambo is an unforgettable work that explores the origins of the Afro-Hispanic experience and offers a profound meditation on the forces of history.
About the author:
Born in Lima, Lucía Charún Illescas is a writer and journalist. She is also the author of Latinoamérica en Hamburgo and winner of the Lyra Prize for Short Stories. Malambo is her first novel. She currently lives in Hamburg, Germany.
About the translator:
Emmanuel Harris II received his MA and PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a Professor of Spanish at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. In addition to teaching Spanish language, culture and literature, he is also an instructor of Black Studies and former Chair of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
A Trip to Salto / Un viaje a Salto.
"One day you're going to ask me, "Mamá, do you remember that trip to Salto?" and I don't want such questions to go unanswered."
What happens on that trip to Salto opens this moving narrative by Uruguayan writer and poet Circe Maia. It begins with a mother and her young daughter desperately trying to catch an overnight train to Salto that they hope carries their husband and father, a physician and political prisoner who is traveling to the Salto prison accompanied by military guards after being interrogated in Montevideo. Their ensuing trip reveals the effects of a totalitarian regime on families and social relationships.
The tale of their journey is followed by a series of diary entries written by the mother between 1972 and 1974. The diary complements the opening account as each entry sensitively chronicles the family's struggle to cope with daily life under prolonged separation, fear, and uncertainty. The diarist questions how one's sense of community and love for country change when basic human rights can no longer be taken for granted.
Presented here in a bilingual edition, A Trip to Salto ultimately provides an intimate glimpse into Uruguayan history while it explores the deeper truths about an individual's capacity to resist, adapt, and hope.
About the author:
Circe Maia was born in Montevideo in 1932. Shortly thereafter, her family moved to Tacuarembó in northern Uruguay. Maia's family returned to Montevideo when she was seven and she continued to live there until she was thirty, completing her studies in Philosophy and Modern Languages at Universidad de la República Oriental del Uruguay. Maia moved back to Tacuarembó where she taught philosophy at the local high school for many years. Circe Maia's books of poetry are: En el tiempo (1958), Presencia diaria (1963), El puente (1970), Cambios, permanencies (1978), Dos voces (1981), Superficies (1990), De lo visible (1999), and Breve sol (2001). Her books of prose are: Destrucciones (1986) and Un viaje a Salto (1987). She currently writes for Diario de Poesa, a literary magazine in Buenos Aires.
About the translator:
Stephanie Stewart received her MA from Stanford University and a BA from Oberlin College. She spent a year in Uruguay on a Fulbright grant working with Circe Maia on the translation of Maia's poetry.