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Yoruba from Cuba: Selected Poems of Nicolas Guillen

In calling this collection Yoruba from Cuba, a phrase from the poem ‘Son Número 6’, the translator, Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres, draws attention to Guillén’s pioneering embrace, more than sixty years ago, of an African identity in Cuba.

£9.99

Author(s)
Nicolas Guillen, Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres
ISBN
9781900715973
Pages
180
Price
£9.99
Classification
Translation, Poetry
Setting
Cuba
Date published
15 Jul 2005

In calling this collection Yoruba from Cuba, a phrase from the poem ‘Son Número 6’, the translator, Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres, draws attention to Guillén’s pioneering embrace, more than sixty years ago, of an African identity in Cuba. His selection shows Guillén constantly returning to the theme of race and the historical legacies of slavery in both the Caribbean and the USA. But in poems such as ‘Balada de los Dos Abuelos’, Guillén is also seen stressing the mulatez heterogeneity of Cuban culture in drawing on African, European and other immigrant traditions. 

As a life-long Marxist and anti-imperialist, Guillén celebrated the Cuban revolution, including the heroic example of Che Guevara, but he also addressed the tendency to a repressive puritanism within the ruling party in such important poems as ‘Digo que yo no soy un hombre puro’. 

In this dual language selection of one of the outstanding poets of the Hispanic world, Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres has created lively, very readable English versions that capture both the colloquial vigour of Guillén’s language and the incantatory rhythms of those of the poems where he draws on the dance patterns of the Cuban ‘son’. 

The selection covers the range of Guillén’s work from Poemas de Transición (1927-1931) up to poems from La Rueda Dentada and El Diario que a Diario, both of 1972. With a translator’s preface, an introduction by the distinguished scholar of Cuban culture, Professor Alistair Hennessy, notes, a chronology and a reading list, this is an edition that will bring Guillén’s powerful and epochal poetry to both the general reader and to the student.
His work is unquestionably one of the towering landmarks of Caribbean poetry.

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Nicolas Guillen

Nicolás Guillén was born in Cuba in 1902, the son of a veteran of the Cuban war of Independence, a radical journalist who was killed by the army in 1917.

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Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres

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