April is National Poetry Month – a celebration of poetry’s vital place in our culture. Poetry and poetics has long held a prominent place in the University of Alabama Press’ publishing program. In addition to works of original poetry, our Modern and Contemporary Poetics Series provides an outlet both the finest in academic scholarship and works that depart from conventional stylistic constraints to develop new modalities for critical thinking.
This month, we are pleased to publish an English translation from one of Latin America’s most distinguished poets—José Kozer. Kozer is one of the most influential contemporary Cuban poets working today. A key figure in the neobaroque movement within contemporary Latin American poetry, he is one of only three Cubans to ever win the Pablo Neruda Prize given by the Neruda Foundation in Chile.
Of Such a Nature/Índole is a bilingual edition translated into English by Peter Boyle. In addition, Boyle provides an extensive introduction placing Kozer’s work in a critical context. The Spanish word “índole” can be translated as: “a type,” “a sort,” or “that sort of thing.” The title, Índole, therefore suggests that the poems gathered in this collection, are all instances of specific types of situations, things, or experiences. Kozer has gathered a collection of poems about everyday life—cleaning one’s dentures, a woman leaning over a bowl of oatmeal, a salamander glimpsed while eating breakfast—but always with death not far away.
Of Such a Nature/Índole is a remarkable collection of poems published in Cuba in 2012, covering such materials as Kozer’s Jewish heritage, his Cuban childhood and ongoing connection to the Island, Buddhist and East Asian traditions of spiritual practice, his everyday life in Florida with Guadalupe, ageing, illness, and the shadow of death. Irony and humor are there as well, and to read these poems is to be in the presence of the full seriousness of poetry and its playfulness, its ability to undercut all pretensions.
José Kozer was born in Cuba and moved to New York, where he taught Spanish language and literature at Queens College, CUNY, for over thirty years. He currently resides in Hallandale, Florida, writing poems and reading as he pleases.
Peter Boyle is an Australian poet and translator of poetry. In 2013 he received the NSW Premier’s Prize for literary translation. As a poet he is the author of seven collections, most recently Ghostspeaking and Towns in the Great Deserte presence of the full seriousness of poetry and its playfulness, its ability to undercut all pretensions