A richly complex continuum of voices and characters inhabits these poems. An ecstatic hermit cultivates saints’ body parts in a hothouse by the sea. A washerwoman invokes Oshún, orisha of love, while scrubbing laundry, and then a songbird magically appears. A fisher’s acolyte son 'flies from island / to island, wreathing with rain-lilies / light houses, masts, and campanili'. An exiled Caliban meditates on the music of lifeless creatures as a source of power and aesthetic revelation. A communist Afro-Cuban dockworker rails against sugar as the black man’s curse, while on a sugar plantation European Jewish immigrants and black cutters celebrate their common diasporic heritage. His verse rich in imagery and metaphor, the poet constructs a cosmic vision of the Caribbean that weaves African, European, and indigenous elements into a vibrant new synthesis, creating islands at once strange and familiar, haunting and sublime. Orlando Ricardo Menes writes poetry of baroque imagination and passionate energy.
'Cuban-American Orlando Ricardo Menes is not only a compelling poet, he’s a storyteller, telling his stories in the first person or in a charged and compressed narrative. The poet touches all bases - magic realism, humor, irony, horror, mystery, mysticism - laced with references to tropical flora, fauna, history, and the melding of African and European religious mythologies.'
Phyllis and David Gershator, The Caribbean Writer
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Orlando Ricardo Menes was born in Peru to Cuban parents. He has lived most of his life in Florida, and considers himself a Cuban American. He currently teaches at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.