Forthcoming: Translation of Mayra Santos-Febres’s “Boat People”

Mayra Santos-Febres’s collection of poems Boat People (Ediciones Callejón, 2005) has been translated by Vanessa Pérez-Rosario and will be published by Cardboard House Press in April 2021. It is now available for pre-ordering. Here are reviews, followed by the author’s bio.

Carmen Giménez Smith (author of Be Recorder and Milk and Filth) writes: The ocean in Boat People is haunted and the book is the heartbreaking journey from sea to horizon. Melancholy and songlike, Santos-Febres documents the nameless, the chum: bodies set adrift by commerce. Like M. NourBese Philips’s Zong!, this phenomenal translation in which I become “a drop of fish sweat,” my body dancing to the poetry’s music but also lamenting the violences that underlie it.

Raquel Salas Rivera (author of lo terciario and while they sleep (under the bed is another country)] writes: Mayra Santos-Febres is one of our most powerful writers and Boat People has long been a part of the poetic counter-tradition that shaped generations of Puerto Rican poets. Thanks to Vanessa Pérez-Rosario, English-language readers are now plunged into the depths of a text that, to echo Patrick Chamoiseau, is composed of “that strange conference of poets and great beings,” lost at sea, tossed on shores, or caught in a world without return address or safe passage. Written like a border drawn on water, this oceanic book is both a source of life and a record of death. It remains as devastatingly urgent as the day it was written.

Mayra Santos-Febres was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, in 1966. She studied Literature at the University of Puerto Rico and obtained two postgraduate degrees at Cornell University, United States. She has been a visiting professor at various universities in Latin America and the United States. She is a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras and a member of the International and Multicultural Institute of the UPR. She obtained, among other awards, the Letras de Oro and the Juan Rulfo, both in the short story genre. She is the recipient of a John S. Simon Guggenheim scholarship (2017) and the Rockefeller Bellagio Center Residency in 2018. Some of her works have been translated into French, English, German, Croatian, Korean, Icelandic and Italian. She is the author of the poetry books Anamú y manigua (1990), [El orden escapado] The Escaped Order (1991), [Pez de vidrio; translated as Urban Oracles (1994)], Boat People [2005], Tercer Mundo (2014-20), Huracanada (2018). She also published the novels Sirena Selena vestida de pena (2001), Cualquier miércoles soy tuya (2002), Fe en disfraz, Nuestra Señora de la noche, and La amante de Gardel; and the collections of essays entitled Tratado de Medicina Natural para Hombres Melancólicos and Sobre piel y papel.

Boat People. Poetry. Paperback; Bilingual edition
ISBN  978-1-945720-19-2
April 22, 2021

For more information, see

Also see more on the author at and

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