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by Néstor Perlongher

Translated from the Spanish by Roberto Echavarren and Donald Wellman

Poetry. Chapbook 
Bilingual edition
40 pages

ISBN 978-1-945720-10-9
November 23, 2017

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La Loca whose queer opulence shatters categories and the liberating projects these prescribe, la Loca whose opulence citizens violate so as to constitute the very idea of citizenship, esta es la Loca whose opulence finds form in the life and work of Néstor Perlongher to sing Argentina its most proper public hymn. Cadavers in the streets, in the crotches, in the words, and in military helicopters about to be tossed – so goes a haunting toward “the preciseness of this absence.” To meet it, Perlongher lifts its perfect shadow in his mouth out of the ground. —FARID MATUK

In ‘Cadavers,’ his long poem on the desaparecidos – the disappeared victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship – Perlongher does not seek to return their presence or whereabouts to those unnamed, absent corpses, but to restore their corporeity to them. He does so by means of a poetic language that can be as coarse and funny as it is ornate, bringing together such disparate elements as Góngora’s Baroque and the neighborhood hair salon, Rubén Darío’s Modernismo and Argentinean public elementary schools.

Legend has it that Perlongher wrote his poem on the interminable bus trip from Buenos Aires to São Paulo that would take him into exile from a regime that had paradoxically criminalized him not for his fierce political activism, but for his militant homosexuality. This gorgeous translation by Donald Wellman and Roberto Echavarren retraces Perlongher’s journey, and finally brings his great poem to an English-speaking audience. — EZEQUIEL ZAIDENWERG

Néstor Perlongher was an Argentinian poet and gay rights activist. He was born in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires Province, on Christmas night in 1949, and he died in São Paulo in 1992. He was a founder and key member of the Frente de Liberación Homosexual (Homosexual Liberation Front), one of the first LGBT organizations in the world. Starting in 1982, he lived in São Paulo where he earned a master’s degree in Social Anthropology and also taught as a professor at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). In 1987 he won the Boris Vian prize with his book Alambres, and in 1992 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship. His poetic work comprises six books, starting with Austria-Hungría in 1980. He frequently published articles and essays in various Argentine magazines, and in 1991 he compiled the bilingual Spanish-Portuguese anthology Caribe transplatino, poesía neobarroca cubana y rioplatense. One of his best known essays is La prostitución masculina (Male Prostitution).

Roberto Echavarren is a poet, novelist, essayist and translator. Some of his books of poems are Centralasia(Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay Award, publications in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil), El expreso entre el sueño y la vigilia (The express between sleep and wakefulness) (Nancy Bacelo Foundation Award) and Ruido de fondo (Background Noise). His essays include: El espacio de la verdad: Felisberto Hernández (The space of truth: Felisberto Hernández), Arte andrógino (Androgynous Art) (Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay Award), Fuera de género: criaturas de la invención erótica, (Beyond Gender: creatures of erotic invention), Michel Foucault: filosofía política de la historia, (Michel Foucault: political philosophy of history), Margen de ficción: poéticas de la narrativa hispanoamericana, (Margin of fiction: poetics of Latin American narrative). His novels are: Ave roc, El diablo en el pelo (The devil in the hair), Yo era una brasa (I was an ember), and Archipiélago (three short novels in one volume). His latest book of narrative, Las noches rusas (Russian Nights), is a chronicle about the political and cultural life of Russia in the twentieth century. His play Natalia Petrovnawas awarded and published by the Cultural Center of Spain in Uruguay. His play África, la muñeca de Felisberto Hernández, (África, Felisberto Hernández's doll), based on a real case, was performed in Montevideo throughout 2012 and 2013 and published in Buenos Aires. He is director of La Flauta Mágica publishing company, specializing in critical bilingual editions of poetry and the rescue of major poetical works written in Spanish. Poetry books in English: The Espresso between Sleep and Wakefulness (Cardboard House Press, 2016), The Virgin Mountain (Lavender Ink, 2017).

Donald Wellman is a poet and translator. He has translated books of poetry by Antonio Gamoneda, Emilio Prados, Yvan Goll, and Roberto Echavarren. Albiach / Celan: Reading Across Languagesis from Annex Press (Spring 2017). His Expressivity in Modern Poetry is forthcoming from Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. His poetry has been described as trans-cultural and baroque. His collections include Roman Exercises (Talisman House, 2015), The Cranberry Island Series (Dos Madres, 2013), A North Atlantic Wall (Dos Madres, 2010), Prolog Pages(Ahadada, 2009), and Fields (Light and Dust, 1995). As editor of O.ARS, he produced a series of annual anthologies including Coherence(1981) and Translations: Experiments in Reading (1984).

Cardboard House Press is a 501c3 nonprofit organization devoted to the creation of spaces and media for cultural, artistic, and literary development through the publication and circulation of writing, art, and contemporary thought from Latin America and Spain and through bilingual events, community projects and workshops.