Translated from the Spanish by Ilana Dann Luna
Design by Mutandis
/ Book Art / Cartonera Collective Series Sewn Bound ︎
December 3, 2018
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Koan Underwater is supported in part by the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Southwest Airlines, and the Surdna Foundation through a grant from the NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant Program.
These are poems of highways & flowers, krakens & magnolias, skulls & meteorites. “I am what my body does not allow me to be,” the poet says, or said in Spanish, with a subsequent, parallel song proferred by the translator. These poems translate a country into a series of koans and aquatic musical possibilities, into a house made of pages. These poems are working through the damaged configuration of the world, its fragments and splinters, wondering if justice might still be possible at all.
Rodinás’ prolific language moved me (is anhedonia our ennui?). Prolific because it distrusts its own language, all language. And because it never finds pretexts in the world to latch onto (are there any?), it entwines itself and proliferates like vegetation covering the forest floor (setting out to cover it ever more completely?)
Everything seems to have at its core that suffocating lump in the throat (the realm of cries and the realm of dreams overlap). In the midst of the opaque texture, rough and course, spaces suddenly emerge with the crystalline purity of affection, pure affection. —Olvido García Valdés
Juan José Rodinás was born in Ambato, Ecuador in 1979. His latest publications are the books Kurdistán (2017) and Cuaderno de Yorkshire (2018). Among other achievements, he has received La Garúa International Prize for Young Poetry (2007), La Lira Festival Prize (2013) and the Margarita Hierro International Prize for Poetry / FCPJH (2017). He is currently concluding a doctorate degree in Hispanic Studies at the University of Leeds.
Ilana Luna holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with an additional emphasis in literary translation. She is an Associate professor of Latin American Studies at Arizona State University where she teaches on film, literature and cultural studies. Luna is the author of Adapting Gender: Mexican Feminisms from Literature to Film (SUNY Press) that considers the subversive potential of film adaptation of literary texts that intersect with feminist discourses in a neoliberal Mexico. She is a translator of poetry and prose, most recently Ignacio Ruíz Pérez, Paul Guillen, Giancarlo Huapaya and Juan José Rodinás. She is the Director of programming for the international film festival Femme Revolution Film Fest in Mexico City, and is a board member of Cardboard House Press in Phoenix, AZ.