New Book: Praises & Offenses, Three Women Poets from the Dominican Republic


Praises & Offenses: Three Women Poets from the Dominican Republic (due November 1, 2009) is a bilingual edition of poems translated by Judith Kerman. The collection features the poetry of Aida Cartagena Portalatín, Angela Hernández Núñez, and Ylonka Nacidit-Perdomo. Here is the publisher’s description:

While the three poets presented in this bilingual collection present a rich contrast of linguistic and stylistic elements, each of them addresses shared political and cultural issues, illuminating what it means to be a woman living in the modern day Dominican Republic. Judith Kerman, who has translated a number of female poets from the Caribbean, notes that “contemporary women poets from the Dominican Republic are the most under-served group when it comes to English-language translation, in particular full-length collections or anthologies.” Thus, this exciting new anthology from BOA contains much that was previously unavailable to the English reader, and is a unique literary event to be celebrated. 

Aída Cartagena Portalatín (1918-1994), a prolific poet, fiction writer, and essayist, began publishing her poetry at the height of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Her broad and acute political awareness made her an important exponent of gender and racial equality throughout the 20th century. “Her poems are marked by a fierce concern for social justice, identification with the turbulent history of her island, and grief for all victims of oppression. She is one of the central figures in a major flowering of literature which included the first significant visibility of Dominican women writers.”

Angela Hernández Núñez (1954- ) was educated as a chemical engineer and did graduate work in politics and communications. She has been active in civil rights issues, especially the rights of women, since her youth. Her first book of poems, Desafio, was published in 1985. In 1989, she co-founded the Solidarity Center for the Development of Women. She was the first winner of the Cole prize for the short novel in 2001. “Her poetry is marked by a sense of privacy, often using imagery of domestic spaces and body awareness to explore larger issues of perception and identity.”

Ylonka Nacidit-Perdomo (1965 – ) completed her education in law and political science. She began writing at the age of ten and began organizing women’s rights events in the 1990s. Her first poetry collection, Contacto de una mirada, was published in 1989. “Her intensely romantic poems inscribe the poet’s persona in a mythically expansive island landscape of tropics and ocean.”

Translator Judith Kerman teaches at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. A poet, performer, scholar, and artist, she has published eight books or chapbooks of poetry, most recently Galvanic Response (2005). Her book of translations, A Woman in Her Garden: Selected Poems of Dulce María Loynaz, was published in 2002. In 1971, she founded Earth’s Daughters, the oldest feminist literary magazine still publishing in the United States, and in 1980, she founded Mayapple Press, which has published 50 titles to-date.

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