In Fernando Valverde’s América, “sorrow is ancient.” Mournfully lyrical, politically sharp, with a sweeping view of American roots, dysfunctions, and ideals―as if from above, and yet also from within―this is a book that deconstructs the legacy of empire. From the Mississippi River to Fulton Avenue, from slavery to “lone wolf” shooters, Valverde grieves but does not wince away from all that is lost to greed and a culture of violence, painting an urgent portrait of “the thirst of America / a smile satisfied to death.” Valverde is widely regarded as one of the most important younger Spanish-language poets. Here his vibrant voice and convictions are translated and introduced by Carolyn Forché, herself a world-renowned poet of witness. Bilingual, with Spanish originals and English translations.
“America is a look at America from the perspective of a poet whose first language is Spanish (but who is bilingual). Diving into the history of the nation, these poems are not afraid to describe the darker shades of the past and of reality nowadays. Valverde also ties in his own ideas about learning another language and what language, in general, can do for society, how it can open perspectives up and open a dialogue between two people who, at first, seemed different. Though the history of America is fraught with difficulties and accomplishments, Valverde handles the hurdles with ease and honesty. It is this honesty and insight into life that makes the reading rewarding.”—Virginia Living
“Valverde’s sharp meditation on the state of mind of a nation reeling from its historical contradictions and moral failings is startling. …what we miss, Valverde captures, re-energizing our perception of what becomes commonplace, no matter how horrific.” —Booklist
“Valverde with the gait and melodies of Lorca, with the brush of Dalí, where we blur between death skulls and majestic singers simultaneously, he goes, with his coat pockets stitched with murmurs of ancient prophets, and his lips parched with the thirsts of Whitman — relentless, he witnesses, he notes and measures somehow, the vast ruptures across our paradox called “America.” Forché’s incredible harmony with Valverde’s voices, space-time perception, affinities and depth is miraculous. This collection is the face that rises before us, a smoldering rage that builds from the distance into our being of the Now. It’s a big crushing book you cannot put down.”— Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States, Emeritus