“Pure genius.” Junot Díaz, The New York Times First published by Azul Editions in 1993, this dual language Spanish and English edition of Countersong to Walt Whitman and Other Poems is the only book-length collection of Mir’s poetry with English translations.
Pedro Mir (1913-2000) is recognised as the Dominican Republic’s foremost literary figure of the twentieth century. On the occasion of his death, the president of the Dominican Republic declared three days of national mourning and celebrated the poet’s memory and his work: “Don Pedro will always be with us because his thinking was transcendent, and he truly fathomed the national Dominican soul.”
Jonathan Cohen is an award-winning translator of Latin American poetry and scholar of inter-American literature. He has translated the work of Ernesto Cardenal, Enrique Lihn and Roque Dalton, and is the author of a pioneering study of Pablo Neruda. The late Donald D. Walsh was most celebrated for translating Pablo Neruda and Ernesto Cardenal.
An introduction by Silvio Torres-Saillant, foreword by Jean Franco, translation note, and selected bibliography enable a broader appreciation for the context and general impact of Mir’s work.
“We need a lot more books in English about the Dominican experience. Fortunately the field is growing, and there's some good stuff out there. I recommend one start with one of the Dominican Republic's greatest poets, Pedro Mir, his Countersong to Walt Whitman and Other Poems. Pure genius.” Junot Díaz writing in the New York Times
The eight poems selected include several of his signature pieces from the late 1940s through the 1970s: “Countersong to Walt Whitman”; “There Is a Country in the World”; “If Somebody Wants to Know Which Is My Country”; “To the Battleship Intrepid”; “Not One Step Back”; “Amen to Butterflies”; “Concerto of Hope for the Left Hand”; “Meditation on the Shores of Evening.” The introduction by Silvio Torres-Saillant, author of Caribbean Poetics (Peepal Tree Press), and foreword by Jean Franco, author of Cruel Modernity (Duke University Press), enable a broader appreciation for the personal context and general impact of Mir's work. A selected bibliography of works by and about the poet, including an accounting of the prose he has published as a novelist, author of short stories, essayist, and historian, provides readers with ample resources for further appreciation of Mir's achievement. In his introduction, Torres-Saillant emphasizes: “The present bilingual edition . . . will give both Spanish- and English-speaking readers . . . the opportunity to recognize themselves in the poetic visage of one of the most authentic literary artists to have come from the Caribbean.”
About the first publication, Roberto Márquez stated in the Village Voice: “The publication, in bilingual format, of this first book-length anthology of work by the Dominican Republic's internationally acclaimed and locally celebrated National Poet is an event—long anticipated, too long delayed. . . . Colleague, contemporary, and the equal in lyric vitality, epic ambition, and communal significance to Pablo Neruda or Nicolás Guillén, Mir remains, with Martinique's Aimé Césaire, perhaps the most masterfully elegant and majestic among the living voices of a generation that boasts more than its share of world-class poets. . . . [Mir's] poetry achieves a rare, exceptionally felicitous marriage of poetry and politics, of individual sensibility and the chronicling of quotidian collective drama, the still unfulfilled promise of Latin America, its landscape, peoples, and societies.”