Tracto (“Tract”) is a tunnel-poem, a poem-stairway, an intimate passageway connecting one darkness with others, the origin of light from whence the poetic word, the very essence of language, is interrogated.
Corona Tallo Raíces (“Crown Stem Roots”) represents, through the experience of disappearance–a death in the family, the cutting down of a poplar grove that shaded the river–a radical immersion in the landscape, a harsh geography that joins the everyday traces of life and death.
As part of a collection of short stories in which each protagonist is presented with the opportunity to evaluate her life by what she has or what she perceives to be missing, “Ursula,” occupying the imprecise realm between short story and novella, is a quiet story of the tension in a marriage threatened by personal goals and serves as a strong reminder that the seemingly small decisions are what come to define who we are and have the power to change the course of our lives.
Diana Blanco is the best “bait” on the Madrid police force, a woman trained to attract the most dangerous psycho-killers. But she is sick of her job and tenders her resignation. She wants to live a normal life, after spending months unsuccessfully trying to attract the attention of the “Spectator,” a serial killer who has tortured, mutilated, and murdered more than fifteen women. But when the Spectator kidnaps Diana’s sister, she is forced to race against the clock to save her. She doesn’t know where to start, and she doesn’t know that hidden behind this murderer is a terrifying plot that directly affects her closest friends and family. Diana can’t trust anyone–not her mentor, her boyfriend, her best friend, not even her colleagues on the force–if she wants to save her sister and put a stop to the series of monstrous crimes that have Madrid in an uproar.
In 2007, Olvido García Valdés won Spain’s Premio Nacional for her poetry collection Y todos estábamos vivos. The book explores life from the viewpoint of death, or the dead, and the intensity of such a perspective. A primary technique for achieving this intensification is what García Valdés calls her supresión de elipsis. This suppression of ellipsis, or intentional exclusion of an element–often grammatical–works in these poems to prevents us from discerning basic narrative elements. Her poetry gains much of its power from omission. We rarely know anything about the viewpoint character of a poem: gender, age, physical appearance seem unavailable. The entire book begins in the middle of a sentence with no implied subject beyond a verb in the third person singular. Often a poem ends with no punctuation. The author also uses white space as the language of the unsaid.
When Liborio Uribe found out he was going to die, he wanted to see for the last time a certain painting of Aurelio Arteta’s. He had spent his whole life in the deep-sea fisheries, plying the seas aboard the Dos Amigos and, like his son Jose, captain of the Toki Argia, was the hero of unforgettable stories that were subsequently forgotten forever. Years later and confronting that same painting, his grandson Kirmen, a writer and poet, goes seining through those family stories to write a novel. Bilbao-New York-Bilbao takes place during a flight between the airports of Bilbao and JFK in New York, and unravels the history of three generations of the same family. By means of cards, diaries, e-mails, poems, and dictionaries, it creates a mosaic of remembrances that together make up a memorial to a world that is nearly extinct, and at the same time a praise-song to the endurance of life. With this novel, Kirmen Uribe had a brilliant debut on the Hispanic literary scene. The work received the National Prize of Literature 2009, the Critics´ Prize 2008 in Basque language, the Ramón Rubial Foundation Prize, and the Booksellers Guild of Euskadi Prize. Considered to be one of the most outstanding innovators of present-day literature, Uribe delves into the waters of autobiography with a rich, complex, and evocative style that is truly moving.
Mill Town Memories is a captivating novel that holds the reader’s attention with a skillful non-linear narrative technique. It immerses the reader in an industrial era, depicting life in one of the textile colonies that were such a vital part of Catalonia in the 1950s (the author lived in the Colonia Vidal from the age of six months until she was 20). It is a portrait of the heartland of Catalonia: its traditions, customs, and pressures to conform.
Due to the physical after-effects of a fateful traffic accident, a waiter in a roadside bar finds himself forced to give up his job and withdraw into himself. In this situation and out of the need to do something—anything—he resumes his old pastime of voracious reading, and begins to write. In an exercise of reminiscence superimposed on the most immediate present, the story becomes a magnificent and careful intertwining of crossed paths, encounters and misunderstandings among a wide variety of characters that were once part of the microcosm of the roadside bar. When he was working there he unwittingly became a witness to the ever-complicated human psyche, and to an everyday reality verging on decadence and disillusionment with a changing world shrouded in an atmosphere of pessimism. Ramon Erra’s extraordinary literary precision establishes him as one of the best current writers of Catalan fiction.
A Lake in Flames is a first novel, and also the first part of a trilogy that continues with The Sea of Minsk (La mar de Minsk) and Towers of Clay (Torres d’argila) and marks Hilari de Cara’s birth as a novelist. In this chronicle of characters and stories that touch on life, memory, hopes and ambitions, and sex, the author addresses his themes with sarcasm and, above all, a certain sense of terminus. The parallel plots are set in a village in present-day Mallorca and the Mallorca of the past; in the Barcelona of the 1970s and the Spanish Civil War. The novel is grounded in its author’s own personal experience, but is developed with irony and a style close to contemporary English-language fiction.
The professional premiere of this adaptation will take place May 9-31, 2008 at Miracle Theatre Group in Portland, Oregon under the direction of Devon Allen.
It was originally commissioned and produced (November 17-25, 2006) by the UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance, La Jolla, California under the direction of Gerardo Ruiz, and developed at New Dramatists in New York City under the direction of Jean Randich.
Special thanks to Leo Cabranes-Grant, Jorge Huerta, Ursula Meyer, Chris Parry, Gregary Racz, Darko Tresnjak, Phyllis Zatlin and all the actors and designers who have been part of this play’s development.
A Writer’s Labyrinth by Caridad Svich
“To enter that rhythm where the self is lost,
Where breathing: heartbeat: and the subtle music
Of their relation make our dance, and hasten
Us to the moment when all things become
Magic, another possibility.”
– Muriel Rukeyser (1962)
The Labyrinth of Desire is a play about transformation and the motor of human desire. Originally written by Lope de Vega in the 1600s under the title La Prueba de Los Ingenios (literally “A Test of Wits”), it falls under the category of a capa y espada/cloak and dagger play. It is a piece that true to its genre revels in the comedy of love and intrigue, and does so with Lope de Vega’s characteristic warmth, wit, and poetry. What raises this play above its genre is its great understanding of the essential mutability and fluidity of human desire. Pre-queer theory, pre-feminism and pre-Sex and the City, this play challenges the boundaries of prescribed sexual roles, and advocates for the delightful and essential mystery of love. The performance of self, gender identity, and sexual identity is at the core of this comedy, yet it also manages to address issues of class and the heteroglossic play of language.
In freely adapting this play for the American stage (and this is the first American English adaptation of this piece), I have taken many liberties with the original text: cutting minor scenes and characters, re-assigning some roles and lines, borrowing a very short comedic sequence from Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, re-shaping and expanding scenes, and adding text of my own to clarify and deepen emotional moments as well as comedic ones. The ending in particular has a new twist that speaks to what I feel were Lope’s wholistic intentions with this play. In the use of language I have emphasized the colloquial and direct over the baroque. This choice is actually a mirror of the original’s taut and sharp energy. However, the meter and rhythms have necessarily changed. Nevertheless, my intention throughout my conversation with Lope de Vega across the centuries has always been to illuminate his vision for a new audience, one that most likely only knows, if at all, his classic historical play Fuenteovejuna. It is an audience, though, that is perhaps familiar with Marivaux’s The Triumph of Love and surely with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night—plays that are clear cousins to this one in spirit, if not in form, and I’ve taken this into account when re-considering this play. Obviously, this is a free adaptation. It is faithful to Lope’s architecture, but it is very much suffused with my own artistic sensibility as a playwright, which also centers on the crossing of normative social and sexual boundaries, women in society, the carnival-esque play with language and genre, and interculturalism. In addition, my history (in my parallel career) as a translator of Federico Garcia Lorca’s work, and other dramatists including Calderon de la Barca, has inevitably played a role in my approach to Lope de Vega. Any writer meets a text through their own experience with the page and with the dramatic form. So, call this a hybrid text, a fusion, if you will, of Lope de Vega and Svich. The process has been not unlike the lead character of Florela in this play: I have entered, as Muriel Rukeyser expresses in her poem so eloquently, “the rhythm where the self is lost,” and in so doing, have found an exultant vision of transformation.
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