Alamar, the home of award-winning Cuban poet Juan Carlos Flores, is the setting for his collection, The Counterpunch and Other Horizontal Poems)/El contragolpe (y otros poemas horizontales). Constructed as a self-help community in eastern Havana, Alamar is the largest housing complex in the world. Flores’s highly structured texts, organized into “art galleries,” present prose paintings of a big place in very small form.

Flores builds a poetic landscape with repeating structures that mirror Alamar’s five-floor walkups. Exploring life and dream on the flat surfaces of the poems, he gives fleeting glimpses of perception and survival at the urban margins. As the poet ages, so ages Alamar itself. Yet both find renewal through poetry.

The eighty poems in this bilingual edition offer the first English translation of a complete Flores collection. It will also be of interest to Spanish-language readers seeking access to Cuban literature abroad. Award-winning scholar and translator Kristin Dykstra has compiled an introduction in which she presents Flores, his literary contexts, and references in his poems. Because Flores made specific requests regarding translation, fascinating notes also clarify and expound on choices Dykstra makes in the English version.

Juan Carlos Flores is a well-known and widely respected Cuban Poet. He won the 1990 David Prize, a national award for emerging writers, for his first book of poems, Los pájaros escritos. His second collection, Distintos modos de cavar un túnel, won the prestigious 2002 Julián del Casal prize from UNEAC, Cuba’s national union of artists and writers. His third book, El contragolpe (y otros poemas horizontales), was published by Letras Cubanas in 2009.

Kristin Dykstra, recipient of the 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship, translated Reina María Rodríguez’s Other Letters to Milena/Otras cartas a Milena. She has also translated two books by Cuban poet Omar Pérez as well as Angel Escobar’s Breach of Trust/Abuso de confianza.

The Counterpunch (and Other Horizontal Poems)/El contragolpe (y otros poemas horizontales) breathes interpretive and musical life into the exciting syncopated prose poetry written by an author whose voice is genuinely distinctive among that island’s post-revolutionary generation.”
—Roberto Tejada, coeditor of the journal Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas and author of National Camera: Photography and Mexico’s Image Environment, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, and the poetry collection Exposition Park 

The Counterpunch (and Other Horizontal Poems)/El contragolpe (y otros poemas horizontales) is a major literary event; it provides a complex and formally innovative understanding for the lives and culture of a distinct locale. Dykstra’s translations are superb, and her essay and notes are profoundly informative.”
—Hank Lazer, author of Lyric & Spirit, as well as seventeen volumes of poetry including N18 and Portions

208 pp / 1 B&W illustration
ISBN: 978-0-8173-5813-6 Paper
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8837-9 Ebook
Price: $19.95