LALT No. 18

Number 18

In our eighteenth issue, we feature the work of beloved Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez alongside that of João Cabral de Melo Neto, renowned Brazilian poet and third Latin American winner of the Neustadt Prize. We also highlight Latin American women poets, indigenous literature from Brazil, new works in translation, and a return to the essay...

Dossier: João Cabral de Melo Neto

Your Excellency Dom Austregésilo de Athayde, President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, who has received us so warmly in this House, Distinguished Speakers who have preceded us at the podium,...

The emptinesses of man don’t feel like the nothing / of just any emptiness: that of the empty coat, / that of the empty sack (which cannot stand upright / when they’re empty, or the man with emptinesses); / the emptinesses of man feel like a fullness / of a thing that fills the already full / or what a sack should feel like / when full: yet not...

Virtually every critic of João Cabral de Melo Neto’s poetry has noted the privileged status it accords to things, and one of the best panoramic studies of the poet’s work is simply and significantly titled Poesia com Coisas (Poetry with Things). Cabral’s things include obsessively recurring images—stone, knife, wind, water—and subject...

Mr. President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, Professor Djelal Kadir, Mr. Walter Neustadt Jr., my fellow members of the Academy, Ladies and Gentlemen, On the occasion of being the recipient of so prestigious a prize, conferred upon a writer of the Portuguese language for the first time, I ought to explain one thing before all else: you have...

Languages

Follow Us

 
 

Visit WLT

Fiction

Morning coffee cup

The alarm clock did its job, buzzing punctually at eight o’clock. How could such a small device make so much commotion? It seemed strange that Mariana wasn’t hopping out of bed to take a shower, make herself a frugal breakfast—of which milk was always a component—and leave for work. It was not strange at all because she was dead.

Dancer

They came in around three, when the musicians are still not tired and blow cumbias and corridos as if they had just started. At that hour of the morning neither we nor our clients are that plastered, and almost no one lets a number go by without shaking a leg. People from the maquila have just finished the second shift and come in full of pep,...

Ants

The kids were still sleeping, and Eugenia looked at the tiny hourglass measuring stitches of time in the kitchen with its fine white grains of sand. She knew she had to take the egg out of the pot. She did and she held it under the faucet a few seconds so it would cool down. At the edge of the sink, she peeled it and out of the egg came Adolfo...

Interviews

Christopher Domínguez Michael

This interview centers on the latest two books by Christopher Domínguez Michael, both published in 2020. The first, Ensayos reunidos 1984-1998, was published in Mexico by the Colegio Nacional, and the second, Ateos, snobs y otras ruinas, was published in Chile by Ediciones Universidad Diego Portales. We discussed these books, but...

Ruperta Bautista

There was no better backdrop for this conversation than San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, to discuss the lyrical work of Ruperta Bautista Vázquez, a native of the municipality of Huixtán (1975). In the Chiapaneco world, poetry pulsates in different languages, pursuits and aesthetics. One of those languages is bats’i k’op—from the Mayan language...

Álvaro Santana-Acuña

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez is one of the most famous novels of the last century. It is the most read novel in Spanish after Don Quixote and ranks among the top thirty bestselling literary works of all time. Yet One Hundred Years of Solitude seemed destined for obscurity upon its...

Essays

Reading in Lima, Peru

Though the Latin American boom has in many ways cemented its history in myths and legends, when a literary movement is represented in myth, it can become frozen, stultified, and, most dangerously, irrelevant.

from Liborina by Luis Echavarría Uribe

One of the central topics of the Colombian literature of the last two decades has been how to build narratives and structures that allow for the recovery of personal and national memory surrounding the traumas left by the conflict. Since the signing of the peace treaty with the guerrilla group, FARC, in 2016, the thematic interest of the...

Rossella Di Paolo

Acknowledging that Rossella Di Paolo (Lima, 1960-) is one of Peru’s most important contemporary poets is long overdue.1 For over thirty years, she has patiently and tenaciously cultivated her poetic language to create a courageously expressive and unique voice. A literature professor, journalist, and cultural columnist in Lima, Di Paolo...

Poetry

Yolanda Pantin

The poem fell like a deafening block of ice. // Sparse-leaved shrubs grow here / and sheep crop // with small shifts forward; // they don’t seem to move, yet advance  / across the ground. // I thought I might come close to wisdom, / facing that landscape, // a whim as infantile / as picking your nose // until it bleeds.

Long Island

Far too high: the sky / suspiciously white. / The day resists itself, the light flees, withdraws, / concealing what it finds. Everything looks / for its pretext in the memory of blood / the knees don’t know / the cadence of an island / that has no space for dust.

Gabriela Clara Pignataro

Like those who dance in a swamp / and do not fear sinking   there are those who draw an abyss  / and do not fear falling  / like the seam of life   / in the body of death  / stitch by stitch, the threads will burst  / one day the flood will come

Editor’s Pick

Roque Dalton: Correspondencia clandestina y otros ensayos

The release of a series of essays by Horacio Castellanos Moya, Roque Dalton: Correspondencia clandestinas y otros ensayos, (2021) constitutes a new approach in the prolific writer’s production. Within the compilation resides a diverse assortment of analytical essays written and presented by the Salvadoran writer over the last...

Sub Verse Workshop

In her introduction, the book’s translator, Ilana Dann Luna, notes that when the author uses “x” in the text (for example, when he writes “lxs poetxs sonorxs”), he is stressing the “diversity of sexuality/gender-identity” (ix). This focus on gender fluidity is not merely a matter of sound political intentions, but an effort to reterritorialize,...

Crema paraíso

In moments of revisionism, the Latin American Boom betrays an excess of testosterone and a crude marginalization of women. Think of Clarice Lispector and Silvina Ocampo, who had to wait decades before finding readers beyond the borders of Brazil and Argentina. Unpaid debts hover over Venezuelan literature. This debt, in part, perhaps began to be...

Indigenous Literature

Street art in Floriano, Brazil

How dare you call us poor today  / when you were the one who snatched our lands? // How dare you call us ugly / when you were the one who raped our women? // How dare you call us lazy / when you were the one who killed us with inhuman hours of work? // We are not poor / We were impoverished // We are not ugly / We were whitened // We are not lazy...

Guaraní boy from the Rio Silveira Guaraní village, Brazil

The official history and the literature of Brazil have produced and reproduced silences and stereotypes surrounding indigenous peoples. There have been so many attempts to stifle our voices that to speak of indigenous literature in the twenty-first century triggers an itch in the ears of many theorists, who impassibly idolize the canons of...

Street art in Alto Paraíso de Goiás, Brazil

I sing of sorrow / from exile / weaving a necklace / many histories / and different peoples // In each birth / and song of farewell, / of mother earth, I ask refuge / of brother son, more energy  / and I beg sister moon for the poetic license / to heat up the drums / and to weave a necklace / with many histories / and different peoples // the...