LAURA RUIZ MONTES
Laura Ruiz Montes was born in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1966. The city is deeply embedded in her DNA and she is a cultural reference there and beyond. Senior editor at Ediciones Vigía, Matanzas’ unique and highly successful publisher of handmade limited edition books, Ruiz Montes is also a much sought-after feminist critic and philosopher of contemporary Cuban life and literature as well as an authority on the tragedy and resistance of Black women in the francophone Caribbean. She has several poetry collections, most recently Otro retorno al país natal and Los frutos ácidos, both of which won Cuba’s National Critic’s Prize for the best book of poetry published in its respective year. Her voice is lyrical but direct, and reflects Cuba’s complex reality in all its subtle nuances.
Winner of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba 2016 Julián de Casals Prize for poetry.DIAPOSITIVAS/TRANSPARENCIES is Laura Ruiz Montes’ first bilingual poetry collection and her first book published in the United States. Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Randall.
“In DIAPOSITIVAS/TRANSPARENCIES, Laura Ruiz Montes gives us poems, snapshots of everyday life in contemporary Cuba, that somehow evoke a deep and emotionally-charged vision of that patria/nation, at this momentous hinge of history. She can make a mental list, ‘pay the light, / take out the garbage, / borrow a bit of breakfast coffee’ that grows to ‘go over the list of all you’ve put off: / the names / and birthdays of those no longer here,’ until we realize that a list of chores is in reality ‘nothing more than an innocent nation at night.’ Again and again, quiet, accurate observations crack open to reveal a Cuba full of pain and brimming over with possibility: ‘you must choose between looking at rhetorical green / or the fender of the vehicle in front,’ ‘Now, no matter how much sugar you use, / each time, invariably, / the coffee tastes more bitter.’ Thanks to Margaret Randall’s sensitive translations, here is contemporary Cuba in all its glorious variety, heaving a past of cultural richness forward into a future of infinite unknowns. It takes a poet of incredible power to reveal this moment extraordinary through the life of the ordinary, ‘as if nothing / had ever happened here / before.’ Laura Ruiz Montes is that poet, DIAPOSITIVAS/TRANSPARENCIES is that book.” —Bob Holman
“‘We accumulate so much. / Closets, chests, drawers / filled with papers. / Mementos pretending to explain / who we are or were.’ Cuban poet Laura Ruiz Montes writes of the worn, faded loneliness of the past. She settles—with surprising calm—in rituals, scents, sounds, innocence. Her nostalgia for her island and the people who have moved on pervades each description, leaving us, as it does her, ‘in this tremulous and lonely Cuban room.'” —Lauren Camp
“In language as intimate as a whisper, DIAPOSITIVAS/TRANSPARENCIES by Laura Ruiz Montes evokes visions of her childhood in Cuba, growing up through years of hope and forgotten dreams. Her poems, simple and delicate, bring us images of friends who left, defeated heroes, and of the everyday solidarity of waiting, while embracing texts filled with certainty that reverberate in the reader’s imagination.” —Leandro Katz