The Winter Garden Photograph
Author: Reina María Rodríguez
Translators: Kristin Dykstra and Nancy Gates Madsen
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2019)
A meditation on the power and limitations of images, The Winter Garden Photograph began as an homage to a magazine, The Courier, published by UNESCO. Reina María Rodríguez used the magazine's photographs of faraway places to spark an investigation of the mental landscapes comprising her own, contemporary Havana. "I think through / the breath in you; I think through / the blood in you": precisely in striving to inhabit other worlds, she pursues the self. With the original Cuban edition of this book, Rodríguez won her second Casa de las Américas Prize for Poetry. This edition includes a set of co-translations by Kristin Dykstra and Nancy Gates Madsen, and an interview with Rodríguez, conducted by Rosa Alcalá.
"What draws me to Rodriguez's poetry is an instantly recognizable and unforgettable quality, a persistent exploration of the writer's 'inquietudes' (restlessness and worry, but also inquisitiveness and curiosity) that move in the interstices of the experiential and the philosophical. Her poetry's language of inquiry, while precise and elegant, is also never distant, never prone to empty pronouncements. I am stimulated as a reader by her intellect and use of intertextuality, and drawn in by her intimacy and vulnerability."
"Reina María Rodríguez is the premier poet of her generation and one of Cuba's most dynamic leading thinkers. From her first award-winning collections of the mid 1970s to the international recognition she enjoys today, Rodríguez has produced an astonishing body of writing that includes over thirty volumes of poetry and other literary forms. Her dedication to a local and global community of artists and writers speaks of a practice that unites creative engagement and cultural advocacy. Her poetic imagination engages the human capacities, especially from a contemporary woman's lyric perspective, while compelling us to re-imagine the possibilities of cultural belonging and exchange. As the 2014 recipient of the Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize, Reina María Rodríguez confirms that her poetry speaks to those contradictions—in Latin America and elsewhere—that demand the open expression of literary care for society, identity, and modern life."
Winner of the 2020 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation