No Budu Please
Author: Wingston González
Translator: Uráyoan Noel
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2018)
No Budu Please emerges in the voice of “an artificial boy in some sort of plastic prairie,” as he zeroes in on desire, spirit, and diversion. A diversion for all those forgotten and on the outskirts, impenetrable. Wingston González has carved out a distinctive way of creating beats with words, a spiritual questioning of godliness, and a space of immersion in a Garifuna history marked by the 1797 expulsion from St. Vincent and subsequent exile to the coast of Central America. One of the most prolific Garifuna writers today, González has built a window into contemporary Black indigeneity in Mesoamerica, but also closed that same window in a sidelong attack on colonialist language and syntax, rewriting Spanish as he goes. Urayoán Noel’s translation moves the ludic experimentation with Spanish into an English that also tears at the colonial heart of Occidental imaginings. Both books insist that colonial fantasies are not to be stomached, that there is no easy way in or out of reality or dream, rather a series of glacial contradictions and bloody yearnings.
"It is the voice of the Mokko of Nigeria, the Arawak, the Taino, the Black Carib, the exiled by way of British colonial rule, the shipwrecked and the assimilated that informs these verses. Bob Kaufman as houngan. Neruda as trickster. Césaire as natural mystic. The beauty of the here and the between in this small collection is a tantalizing toying with the eye and ear. And thus begins the story. What does it mean to slurp up an island? To be a child of 80’s TV? To be Garífuna? To be neighbor to witchdoctors? Here, the actual linguistic transformation of Spanish and indigenous threads within the Garífuna community of today and between, González’s overall playfulness with history, myth and ode. What Noel seamlessly does in his translation of González’s work by embodying a Trans-Atlantic phonetic assemblage of Black English that comprises the Caribbean, North America, and the UK is both a phenomenon and a careful, mindful engagement with a poe tics shifting at will because shape shifting––as a black and brown experience––is inherent. Call it gumbo surprise. Tres leche wit a soda pon da syde. ya solo sabe ber las luses.
–LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs