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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. The compiler of William Carlos Williams’s poems from the Spanish, he currently is preparing a new edition of Williams’s translation of the Golden Age novella, The Dog & The Fever, by Pedro Espinosa, forthcoming from New Directions. Jonathan Cohen’s website.

cover image for Zero Hour And Other Documentary Poems

Zero Hour And Other Documentary Poems


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

cover image for The Dark Room And Other Poems

The Dark Room And Other Poems


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

cover image for Pluriverse



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.”