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Looking Within/Mirar adentro

Selected Poems/Poemas escogidos, 1954-2000

Nancy Morejón
Edited and with an Introduction by Juanamaria Cordones-Cook

African American Life Series

Published: December 2002
ISBN: 9780814330388
Pages: 376 Size: 6x9

The African Cuban poet Nancy Morejón set out at a young age to explore the beauty and complexities of the life around and within her. Themes of social and political concern, loyalty, friendship and family, African identity, women’s experiences, and hope for Cuba’s future all found their way into her poems through bold metaphor and tender lyricism. This panoramic anthology, selected from ten volumes of Morejón’s work and organized by theme, contains some poems that have already been acclaimed in several languages, others that are less known, and some never before published. Overall they present to Morejón’s readership an enhanced, broader, and updated spectrum of her poetry in a Spanish-English edition.

Although Morejón does not sympathize as much with intellectualized feminism as with "street" feminism (the kind that erupts with force as it confronts daily life), her poems illuminate issues in women’s existence. Without intending to, she has revitalized contemporary Caribbean feminist literary discourse. One can find in her work the tensions between colonizer and colonized, dominator and dominated, and at the same time enjoy the sheer beauty of images depicting suffering, strength, and hope.

Winner of two prestigious Cuban awards, the Premio Nacional de Literatura Cubana and Premio de la Critica, Nancy Morejón is a poet, essayist, critic, editor, journalist, and translator. She was born in the Los Sitios district of Central Havana in 1944. Her first book, Mutismos, was published in 1962, and she has collaborated throughout her career with leading musicians, playwrights, and actors. She now directs the Caribbean Studies Center at Casa de las Américas, Havana, epicenter of Cuban and Latin American intelligentsia.

Juanamaría Cordones-Cook is associate professor at University of Missouri, Columbia. She is author of Teatro negro uruguayo (Editorial Graffiti, 1996) and Poetica de transgresión en la novelística de Luisa Valenzuela (Peter Lang Publishing, 1991). Member of the Uruguayan Academy of Letters.

This bilingual presentation and anthology of poems by Nancy Morejon...is a true celebration of her verse...Readers of both languages will rejoice.

– Mary G. Berg, Harvard University

Looking Within is a powerful book of selected poems and a wonderful contribution to the world of literature. Morejón's poetry is infused with an understanding of her African heritage and modern Cuban identity. Her poems capture the essence of encounters with family, friends, literature, art, landscapes, politics, history and Cuban reality. Her poems are lyrical, compassionate, complex and dazzling in their subtleties. This fine translated version of her work will encourage more research, more critical analysis and more dialogue among scholars of poetry and Latin American culture.

– Jayne Cortez, poet

As a whole, the volume offers readers in both Spanish and English an opportunity to become acquainted in depth with the work of a poet, who, as Ruth Behar has commented, 'has opened bridges in many directions' (Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba). Morejón well deserves the many bridges that I hope Looking Within / Mirar Adentro will open for her."

– African American Review

Every student of literature and anyone else, anywhere in the world, who would claim to have any reading habits and some appreciation of poetry, must read Nancy Morejón. For your reading pleasure, your intellectual, emotional or spiritual enrichment, Nancy Morejón's poetry is as much a necessity as the food we need to nourish our bodies.

– Keorapetse Kgositsile, University of California, Los Angeles