Outline (Derivative 1)

Amanda Berenguer
Translated from the Spanish by Urayoán Noel

Why this sand in amber and repose? This stone what?a soft grind? Desert body invading the sheet where I writethe page where I'm signing the eagle, the book whereI feather myself with pleasure. From where this palecracked skin? How this sterile pollen? Desert handscovering the notebook where I initiate the tide, thetable where I suffer humiliations and make worlds, theslab on which I carve figures of habeas corpus. How longthis impure flour? Why this terrible patience? Desertgravity subjugating the segment where I trim sails anddiscordant clouds, the memory where I shiver madly,waist-deep inside the cold canal, the dark codex inwhich to acknowledge blindness.

Trazo (Derivado 1)

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Amanda Berenguer (1921 – 2010) was a vital presence in Uruguayan literary life for more than six decades. She is a key figure in the “Generation of 1945,” known around the world for its energetic experimentation. Her first book appeared in Montevideo in 1940, followed by a steady stream of collections recognized for their excellence. Awards for her contributions included, among many others, the prestigious international Casa de las Américas Prize for Poetry (1986) and two national Uruguayan prizes for her collection La dama de Elche. Berenguer’s lifelong dedication to the arts included work with little presses and radio programming, as well as collaborations with dancers and musicians. She is widely regarded, in her country and beyond, as one of Uruguay’s greatest poets.

Photo:
Luis Carle

Urayoán Noel is a South Bronx-based writer, performer, and translator from Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. His books include Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico (Arizona, 2015); In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (Iowa, 2014); and Architecture of Dispersed Life (Shearsman, 2018), a bilingual edition of the poetry of Pablo de Rokha, which was shortlisted for the National Translation Award in Poetry. Most recently, he translated Wingston González’s No Budu Please (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018). Noel teaches at New York University and at Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas.

Materia Prima is the first English-language collection of Amanda Berenguer’s poetry. A key contributor to Uruguay’s famed literary Generación del 45, Berenguer (1921-2010) stands among the most important post-World War II poets of Latin America, along with her now-legendary compatriot Marosa di Giorgio. Berenguer’s poetry, stylistically and conceptually varied, ranges from classic, measured lyric to Dickinson-inspired gnomic utterance; from metaphysical and erotic rhetorical effusion to condensed and radically concrete experiment; from seemingly apolitical languor to pointed ideological dissent.

"How fabulous to discover a major poet I knew nothing about! Is it that Uruguay is easily hidden behind the bigger Latin American countries, or that as a woman she is often disappeared behind the men? Amanda Berenguer, a major voice of the Uruguayan group of artists & thinkers known as the Generation of ’45, is finally getting her due in anglophone territory with the fine translations of this well-edited collection. Hers is urgent work, 'wingenious' and 'mythovulsive,' feisty yet lyrical, playful yet deeply serious, explorative yet assured. A great achievement."
—Pierre Joris

"We are lucky to get this anthology, which acquaints us extensively with Amanda Berenguer’s poetic cosmogony. It transports us to a planetarium where we float in ever-fluctuating cosmic landscapes. Berenguer’s constant 'variants' of images, themes and graphics make me think of Emily Dickinson, while her vision has Blake’s vastness and exuberance. In her poetry, desire is so grand and ubiquitous that it is like a giant in a solitary cosmos. Even a blackbird has a 'heart with lightning bolts' and / 'The apple is brilliant / and dangerous: / one alone can set an orchard on fire.' In 'Of Cats and Birds' she writes, 'When I meet a bird / I climb onto its wings without asking / and I fly among the heliotropes.' I climb into Amanda Berenguer's pages and soar among cats, Möbius strips, quinces, blackbirds, The Magellanic Clouds."
—Ewa Chrusciel

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