The Miracle Unfolds
Author, Juana Rosa Pita
Translated by Erin Goodman
The Miracle Unfolds offers the reader ten years of poetry by Cuban-American poet Juana Rosa Pita, whom Nicaraguan poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra called “one of the outstanding voices of Cuba’s pilgrim culture.” Esoteric yet accessible, grounded in a wide range of places from Cuba to Italy to Boston, these poems come alive in Erin Goodman’s thoughtful and attentive translation. Though Pita, who was born in 1939 and migrated from Cuba to the United States in 1961, has authored over thirty collections of poetry, this is her first full-length book.
According to bilingual Dominican-American poet Rhina P. Espaillat, “In this selection of poems from seven volumes of Spanish-language poetry by Cuban-born Juana Rosa Pita, many miracles “unfold” into the one verbal song that is Erin Goodman’s English translation. There is the unique but recognizable voice of the poet that takes the reader from country to country, moment to moment, as if memory and meditation were an endless series of railway stations linking the universe. There is the convergence of science and poetry, as if all the forms of human thought were the strings of a single instrument. There is the poet’s fervent trust in the capacity of faith itself to work its will, and the confidence in love as a home that accepts and shelters those who love and keeps them united, no matter where they are in space or how seldom they meet.
Religious feeling, art—especially music—the mysterious resonance between invisible particles far apart that nevertheless “communicate” despite the disturbances wrought by violence and injustice, family lore and history, all converge in these poems, to leave the reader enriched by a silence that embraces and seems determined to endure.
Not least of those many miracles is the translation itself, a garment made of whole cloth and wearable by everything we are: feeling and intellect, mortal being and deathless spirit, inherited exile and a hunger for home, individuals doomed—or is it “blessed”?—with solitude, and inseparable particles of the divine.”
About the Author:
Juana Rosa Pita (b. Havana, Dec. 8,1939) is a poet, writer, editor, and translator. Having left Cuba in 1961, she has lived in Washington, Madrid, New Orleans, Miami and Boston, where she has resided since 2005. Since 1975 when she was awarded the First Prize in Poetry from Latin America in Málaga, Spain, she has published 33 books of poetry; among them: Viajes de Penélope (1980), translated into Italian (Campanotto, 2007) and into English (Penelope’s Journeys, 2011); Sorbos de luz/Sips of Light (1990); Una estación en tren (1994), ‘Premio Letras de Oro’ (1993); Tela de concierto (1999), El ángel sonriente/L’angelo sorridente (2013), and Se desata el milagro/Si scatena il miracolo (2016), and Infancy of Our Bread (2020).
For her body of work, she has received prizes such as the ‘VIII Premio Internazionale Ultimo Novecento’ (Pisa, 1985) and the Premio Alghero “Culture for Peace” (1987). Extensively studied and translated into six languages, her poems have been featured in anthologies such as New Directions in Prose and Poetry 49 (New York,1985), translated by Donald D. Walsh; Poesía cubana contemporánea (FCE: México 2003); and Otra Cuba secreta (Madrid, 2011). A comprehensive anthology of her poetic work was published in Spanish inspring 2019 by Editorial Verbum in Madrid. Soon afterward, Editorial Deslinde, also in Madrid, chose her recent poetic volume, Imaginando la verdad, as its opening publication.
About the Translator:
Erin Goodman is a literary translator and editor residing in Boston. She translated the best-selling political memoir by former Chilean minister Sergio Bitar, Prisoner of Pinochet: My Year in a Chilean Concentration Camp (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017). Erin is a frequent translator for the New York Times Opinion Section and other publications. She is the co-editor of Reflections of Memory and Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2016) and of Memory, Resistance, and Justice (Universitat de Barcelona, 2020). Her creative translations have been featured in New England Review, Los Angeles Review, Poetry International Rotterdam, spoKe, The Lifted Brow, and by the Rincón de Traductores atthe Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University.