Conversation with Norysell Massanet

Nicole Cecilia Delgado
Translated from the Spanish by Urayoán Noel

Behind the city, among other things,she plants various kinds of oregano leaf,makes bread in a wood oven,rolls cigarettes,boils four eggs and strains twocups of coffee.The trees are grown.The little dog had an accidentbut she's on the mend.Teófilo gave me back Fidelia, she says,I don't know howI'm going to take the goats with me.Cabo Rojo flutters across her eyes.She sees herself crossing the island by footwith her flock.And how's this country treating you?—she looks at me and asks.It's been months since we last saw each other.There is wisdom in willful resignation.In search of simplicity we complicate our lives;as time goes by time doesn't feel the same.Sitting on the balcony floorwith many important things to talk about,just the two of us.On a cloudy summer Thursday afternoon,no more resistance or struggle possible.Sitting on the balcony floorwe watch the bamboo grow.I go on to tell her storiesabout my poor plants.She's still thinking about the future,on the other side of government but on this sideof conspiracy theories,her mode of revolutionis blunt force.Pesticide and hiveare not metaphors in this house.I admit that I cry with angerin the municipal patent office;as much as I'm againstthe Financial Oversight Board,I too can't find my placein the performance of politics.With no time for polite preamblesnor peaceful demonstrations,our work consumes usand the jungle inhabits us.Pulse echoing through hands:it's not the country it's the landit's not the country it's the landit's not the country it's the landit's not the country it'sfriendship.

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photo of Nicole Delgado

Nicole Cecilia Delgado is a poet, translator, and book artist. Her latest book of poems, Periodo Especial (Aguadulce/La Impresora), explores the socioeconomic mirror images between the Greater Antilles in light of Puerto Rico’s ongoing financial crisis. Her recent pamphlet A Mano/By Hand (Ugly Duckling Presse) is an essay on the attempt “to live with dignity, to achieve real quality of life, to create community in the process and find joy doing so” in a life lived in and through poetry. Her work has been translated into English, Catalan, Polish, German, Galician, and Portuguese. With the poet Amanda Hernández, she currently directs and develops La Impresora, a poetry press and risograph print shop dedicated to small-scale editorial work and allocating resources to support local independent publishing, and from which they also organize the Independent and Alternative Book Fair in Puerto Rico (FLIA PR).

Image of Urayoan Noel
Photo:
Charlie Vázquez

Urayoán Noel is the author or translator of a dozen books, including Transversal: Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2021), a New York Public Library Book of the Year and longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award; In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press, 2014), winner of the LASA Latino Studies Book Prize and an MLA Honorable Mention; Architecture of Dispersed Life: Selected Poetry by Pablo de Rokha (Shearsman Books, 2018), a finalist for the National Translation Award and longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award; and adjacent islands/islas adyacentes by Nicole Cecilia Delgado, forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse. Noel teaches at NYU and at Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas and is a translator for the Puerto Rican Literature Project (PLPR).

The first bilingual book by Puerto Rican poet, translator, and publisher Nicole Cecilia Delgado, Objetos Encontrados / Found Objects collects poems from Delgado’s books published in Mexico and Puerto Rico between 2007 and 2019. Each poem appears both in the original Spanish and in English translation...Delgado’s poems combine a clear-eyed assessment of the devastating effects of US neoliberal colonialism in Puerto Rico with wry wit and an eye for the hope to be found in friendship, nature, and poetry itself.

“Every book of poems has a residence in the present and its future. In Found Objects, the Puerto Rican poet Nicole Cecilia Delgado makes an argument for the work of the poem as an exercise of imagination toward the heart of the matter. As its colophon tells us, this bilingual compilation of a long poem and four collections written between 2007 and 2019, translated with care and sensitivity by Carina del Valle Schorske, Katie Marya, Urayoán Noel and Raquel Salas Rivera and put together with MC Hyland during a residency in NY, reminds us that we will find in the poem not only countries between and for us, but also friendship reverberating in our pulse.”
—Ricardo Maldonado

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