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There could hardly be a better introduction to Cardenal than Jonathan Cohen's beautifully edited and really brilliant translations.... Cohen's translations are so good you feel that the poems might have been written in English. 

—Robert Hass, The Washington Post

Jonathan Cohen

American translator from the Spanish

Jonathan Cohen is an award-winning translator of Latin American poetry and scholar of inter-American literature. He has translated Ernesto Cardenal, Enrique Lihn, Pedro Mir, and Roque Dalton, among others. His own poems and essays have appeared widely. He is the author of pioneering critical works on Pablo Neruda and Muna Lee. His compilation of William Carlos Williams's translations of Spanish-language poetry contributes a new dimension to the poet's canon ("Our notion of Williams's work in 'the American idiom' should be forever broadened and changed because of By Word of Mouth."—Peter Schmidt, William Carlos Williams Review).

Zero Hour And Other Documentary Poems

Poetry by Ernesto Cardenal

translated by Jonathan Cohen
Edited by Donald D. Walsh

Zero Hour and Other Documentary Poems brings together in English translation eight of the longer poems by Nicaragua’s impassioned Marxist priest, Ernesto Cardenal, described in the Times Literary Supplement as "the outstanding socially committed poet of his generation in Spanish America." His work, like Pablo Neruda’s, is unabashedly political; like Ezra Pound’s, his poems demonstrate history on an epic scale––but the voice is all his own and speaks from the heart of a land sunk for generations in poverty, oppression, and turmoil. As both activist and contemplative, Cardenal maintained strong ties with the Sandinist guerillas while at the same time living a form of primitive Christianity at his religious settlement of Our Lady of Solentiname on an island in Lake Nicaragua. In late 1977, amid increasing civil violence, the Nicaraguan National Guard utterly destroyed the Solentiname community, and Cardenal fled to neighboring Costa Rica, where he continued his efforts on behalf of the revolutionary movement. With the final collapse of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979, he returned to Nicaragua as his country’s new Minister of Culture. Spanning a quarter century, the poems in Zero Hour constitute a vivid record of continuous struggle against flagrant exploitation and brutal indifference to common humanity.

Available: November 01 1980

The Dark Room And Other Poems

Poetry by Enrique Lihn

translated by Jonathan Cohen

The Dark Room presents in a compact bilingual selection the extraordinary poetry of Enrique Lihn (1929-1988), winner of the prestigious Casa de las Americas Prize and one of Chile’s most remarkable writers. Gathered here is Lihn’s most representative work from 1963 to 1977, drawn from his major books.

Available: March 01 1978

Al Que Quiere!

Poetry by William Carlos Williams

Edited by Jonathan Cohen

Published in 1917 by Four Seas Press, Al Que Quiere! was William Carlos Williams’s third poetry book—his breakthrough volume—and contains some of his best-loved poems (“Tract,” “Apology,” “El Hombre,” “Danse Russe,” “January Morning,” and “Smell!”), as well as a Whitmanesque concluding long poem, “The Wanderer,” that anticipates his epic masterpiece Paterson. Al Que Quiere! is the culmination of an experimental period for Williams that included his translations from Spanish. The Spanish epigraph of Al Que Quiere! is from the short story “El hombre que parecía un caballo” (“The Man Who Resembled a Horse”) by the Guatemalan author Rafael Arévalo Martínez. This centennial edition contains Williams’s translation of the story (made with the help of his father), as well as a fascinating chapter from a book of conversations with Williams, I Wanted to Write a Poem, in which he comments on the individual poems. Editor Jonathan Cohen contributes an introduction that situates Al Que Quiere! at the forefront of modernism in American poetry.

Available: October 31 2017

By Word of Mouth

Poetry by

translated by William Carlos Williams
Edited by Jonathan Cohen
with a contribution by Julio Marzán

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) produced a startling number of translations of both Spanish and Latin American poetry starting during WWI and continuing through the late fifties. Williams grew up in a Spanish-speaking home and sometimes described himself as half-Spanish. His mother was Puerto Rican and his father spoke Spanish fluently. “Spanish is not, in the sense to which I refer, a literary language,” Williams wrote in his Autobiography. “It has a place of its own, an independent place very sympathetic to the New World.” Williams approached translation as a way not only to present the work of unknown Spanish poets, but also to extend the range and capacity of American poetry, to use language “with unlimited freshness.” Included in this bilingual edition are beautifully rendered translations of poets well-known — Neruda, Paz, and Parra — and lesser-known: Rafael Arévalo Martínez (from Guatemala), Rafael Beltrán Logroño (from Spain), and Eunice Odio (from Costa Rica).


Poetry by Ernesto Cardenal

translated by Jonathan Cohen
Edited by Jonathan Cohen

Pluriverse: New and Selected Poems charts the life-work of the celebrated poet Ernesto Cardenal—“one of the world’s major poets” (Choice) and “the preeminent poet of Central America today” (Library Journal). Follow Cardenal’s poetic development across six decades, from the early exteriorismo poems and romantic epigrams of the early 1950s, to the increasingly spiritual and political verse he wrote as priest and activist (including his classic revolutionary documentary poem “Zero Hour”) to the shorter victory and ecology poems, and elegies to fallen Sandinistas, and on to the cosmic-mystical-scientific dimensions of his later work. “Here they are—" editor Jonathan Cohen writes in his Introduction, “to gladden your heart and enrich your soul.”