[A Spanish-English Dual Language anthology featuring selections from Cuba's "Generation Zero," including Luis Yuseff, Isaily Pérez González, Javier Marimón Miyares, Leymen Pérez García, Marcelo Morales Cintero, Oscar Cruz, Liuvan Herrera Carpio, Jamila Medina Ríos, Moisés Mayán Fernández, Legna Rodríguez Iglesias, and Sergio García Zamora.]
It's not a cliché by any means to declare that few times in its history has Cuban poetry been more varied, innovative, critical, and attractive than it is right now. And an undeniable part of it is what has been written by the so-called Generation Zero (Generación Cero), poets born after 1970 and who begin publishing after 2000. It's a numerous group, as the title of their most complete anthology illustrates, La isla en versos: Cien poetas cubanos [The Island in Verse: One Hundred Cuban poets] (2011 and 2013). In fact, our selection of 11 poets was compiled having read over sixty books, tens of anthologies, and numerous journals and magazines. Indeed, the only way to truly do justice to this poetry is to offer up book-length anthologies; our aim in these pages is to be the first to simply introduce it to English-speaking readers.
These days, no one expects this kind of poetry from a Cuban, not in literary circles in the Spanish-speaking world, on the left or the right, not in North American academic and creative writing circles either. And perhaps that's why it hasn't received the attention it deserves.
Though they are relatively isolated, whether it be because of extremely limited access to the Internet or the difficulties of traveling off the island, Generation Zero poets aren't behind the times at all, on the contrary, they are at the forefront of poetry being written anywhere in the world. Here there's no trace of superficiality, no fear of emotional complexity or intellectual density, of formal rigor or experimentation. It's poetry open to reality and the most diverse forms of representation. The authors know that intellectuals participate in society through their cultural production.
About the Author
Víctor Rodríguez Núñez (Havana, 1955) is one of Cuba's most outstanding and celebrated contemporary writers. Over 40 collections of his poetry appear throughout Latin America and Europe, and he has been the recipient of major awards all over the Spanish-speaking world, including, in 2015, the coveted Loewe Prize, the highest honor an unpublished book of poetry can receive in the region. He has compiled three anthologies that define his poetic generation, as well as another of 20th century Cuban poetry, La poesía del siglo XX en Cuba (2011). He has brought out various critical editions, introductions, and essays on Spanish American poets. He divides his time between Gambier, Ohio, where he is currently Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College, and Havana, Cuba.
Katherine M. Hedeen is a translator, literary critic, and essayist. A specialist in Latin American poetry, she has translated some of the most respected voices from the region. Her publications include book-length collections by Jorgenrique Adoum, Juan Bañuelos, Juan Calzadilla, Juan Gelman, Fayad Jamís, Hugo Mujica, José Emilio Pacheco, Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, and Ida Vitale, among many others. Her work has been a finalist for both the Best Translated Book Award and the National Translation Award. She is a recipient of two NEA Translation grants in the US and a PEN Translates award in the UK. She is a managing editor for Action Books and the poetry in translation editor at the Kenyon Review. She resides in Ohio, where she is professor of Spanish at Kenyon College.
"In the Drying Shed of Souls: Poetry from Cuba's Generation Zero, with its focus on poets born after 1970, offers a poignant sampling of some of the most exciting writing being produced in Cuba RIGHT NOW! Coming of age during the economic struggle of Cuba's Special Period, these writers show no patterns of allegiance to the ideological or aesthetic camps that have defined the Cuban literary world before and after the Revolution. Taken together, these poems advance the rich tradition of Cuban poetry. The selection is finely edited and remarkably translated by Katherine M. Hedeen and Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, poets, scholars, translators and avid chroniclers of contemporary Latin American letters. The poems in this anthology interrogate the nation and its history; exile; the richness and poverty of language; the visceral realities of the body; domestic violence; and epistemology and the nature of meaning, among other themes. To read them is to get an indelible sense of a Cuban poetry scene that is formally dazzling, civically critical, and deeply engaged with the question of what a poem can mean to a public. In their erudite and provocative introduction, Hedeen and Rodríguez Núñez assert that contemporary Cuban poetry gets largely ignored both in the Spanish-speaking world and in North America because of its failure to adhere to literary and sociological expectations. In the Drying Shed of Souls demands that we take these writers on their own terms, as poets who have built a stunning and urgent body of work that is personal, universal, political, philosophical, and unafraid."
-- Daniel Borzutzky, 2016 National Book Award Winner