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Recorded by Jaime Manrique, September 13, 2016.

About this poet

Jaime Manrique was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 1949. He began writing poetry in his teens, and at age seventeen he moved to Florida with his mother and sister. He received a BA from the University of South Florida in 1972.

In 1975 Manrique was awarded Colombia’s “Eduardo Cote Lamus” National Poetry Award for his debut poetry collection, Los adoradores de la luna (Instituto de Cultura y Bellas Artes, 1977). He is the author of several books of poetry, including El libro de los muertos: poemas selectos 1973–2015 (Artepoética Press, 2016), Tarzan, My Body, Christopher Columbus (Painted Leaf Press, 2001), and My Night with/Mi noche con Federico García Lorca (Painted Leaf Press, 1997).

The poet Alfred Corn writes, “Throughout Jaime Manrique’s poetry a faint overtone of humor runs, permanent and subtle as the scent of saffron in the air of a kitchen in Barranquilla.” Manrique, who writes poetry in Spanish and prose in English, says, “As a writer, I am trying to reflect the two cultures that have shaped me. What I want to do is explore the two countries, from the perspective of a gay Latino living in New York City.”

Manrique has also published several novels, including Our Lives Are the Rivers (HarperCollins, 2007), winner of the 2007 International Latino Book Award in historical fiction, as well as the essay collection Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me (University of Wisconsin Press, 2002). With Joan Larkin, he translated Sor Juana’s Love Poems/Poemas de amor (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) into English.

Manrique has received fellowships from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He currently teaches at the City College of New York and lives in New York City.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
El libro de los muertos: poemas selectos 1973–2015 (Artepoética Press, 2016)
Tarzan, My Body, Christopher Columbus (Painted Leaf Press, 2001)
Mi cuerpo y otros poemas (Ediciones Casa Silva, 1999)
My Night with/Mi noche con Federico García Lorca (Painted Leaf Press, 1997)
Scarecrow (The Groundwater Press, 1990)
Los adoradores de la luna (Instituto de Cultura y Bellas Artes, 1977)

Prose
Cervantes Street (Akashic Books, 2012)
Our Lives Are the Rivers (HarperCollins, 2007)
Latin Moon in Manhattan (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003)
Twilight at the Equator (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003)
Eminent Maricones: Arenas, Lorca, Puig, and Me (University of Wisconsin Press, 2002)
Colombian Gold: A Novel of Power and Corruption (Clarkson N. Potter, 1983)
El cadáver de papa (Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1978)

Swan’s Elegy

translated by Eugene Richie

for Grace Schulman

Lounging in a beach chair
I am moved by the meekness of the ocean,
the distances it has traveled
to unfold in frothing ringlets by my feet.
At high tide, rippling iridescent serpents
form under the aquamarine skin.
The sky is a luminous scarlet arch;
the spring sunset, a perfect cliché.
In the warm glow of the setting sun,
the images are serene, gentle, stripped of all haste—
the hush of this supple silence
makes me close my eyes,
and the old white swan
I saw yesterday in the twilight appears.
I see it crane its neck toward the sky
opening its beak ever so briefly
to puncture my heart
with its desolate song.
In the gathering darkness
I hear the desperate fanning of its ruffled feathers
as it sails toward the magenta shroud of its fate.


Elegía al cisne

para Grace Schulman

Recostado en una silla playera
me conmueve la humildad del océano,
las distancias que ha recorrido
para desdoblarse en rizos espumosos a mis pies.
En la pleamar, iridiscentes serpientes ondulantes
se forman bajo la epidermis aguamarina.
El cielo es una resplandeciente bóveda escarlata;
el atardecer primaveral, un clisé perfecto.

En el caluroso resplandor del sol poniente,
las imágenes son serenas, apacibles, despojadas de toda urgencia.
La paz de este dócil sosiego
me induce a cerrar los ojos,
y el viejo cisne blanco
que contemplé ayer en el crepúsculo aparece.
Lo veo lanzar su cuello hacia el cielo,
abriendo su pico brevemente
para agujerear mi corazón
con un canto desolado.
Y, en la oscuridad circundante,
escucho el desesperado abanicar de sus plumas despeinadas
cuando zarpa hacia la mortaja purpúrea de su suerte.


From My Night with / Mi noche con Federíco García Lorca by Jaime Manrique. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. © 2003 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

From My Night with / Mi noche con Federíco García Lorca by Jaime Manrique. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. © 2003 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

Jaime Manrique

Jaime Manrique

Jaime Manrique is the author of several books of poetry, including El libro de los muertos: poemas selectos 1973–2015 (Artepoética Press, 2016) and My Night with/Mi noche con Federico García Lorca (Painted Leaf Press, 1997). He lives in New York City.

by this poet

poem

(Skip to the original poem in Spanish)

translated by Edith Grossman

Against a topaz sky
and huge windows starry 
with delirious heartsease
and sensual red cayenne;
the sweet twilight breeze
fragrant with almond and Indian orange;
on the Moorish tiles,
wearing their
poem

translated by Edith Grossman

I’ve spent a whole afternoon looking at photographs.
I’ve accumulated so many in my life—
but there are two in particular that interest me.
Both are sepia by now, I don’t know where
they were taken, and I’m not in either of them.
The first is a

2
poem

translated by Edith Grossman

It is a July night
scented with gardenias.
The moon and stars shine
hiding the essence of the night.
As darkness fell
—with its deepening onyx shadows
and the golden brilliance of the stars—
my mother put the

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