The Sea Needs No Ornament / El Mar no Necesita Ornamento

Klobah, Loretta Collins


Thirty-three poets from the English and Spanish-speaking Caribbean offer poems in a variety of forms and styles—from free verse, formal, experimental, and exuberant to minimalist— employing a range of language registers, including borrowings from children’s ring games to blues rhythms. They speak in equally varied voices: lyrical, ironic, incensed, carnivalesque, meditative, and transgressive.

Poems range over all aspects of women’s lives, from childhoods of joy or sorrow, relationships with men and women, motherhood, elder years, as part of collectivities or in solitude. Poems focus on the female body as a source of self-knowledge, pleasure, strength, blood, invasion, and sometimes abuse.

As Caribbean women, these poets scrutinise their places in the region’s history and geography, including the intergenerational impact of migration; they celebrate or cast a critical eye over its spiritual traditions; decry the inequalities of class, race, gender, and sexuality; observe the region’s abundance of flora, fauna, and supernatural beings; and lament the catastrophic natural forces of earthquake, flood, and hurricane that have battered its peoples, who yet search for new ways to revive and move forward.

As Ilya Kaminsky writes: “This book gives us some of the most passionate and insightful writing around, in any language… as I look at the translated voices here I am both moved and transformed by the ways they seem to address the devastation of the present moment… Spanish-speaking poets are presented with wonderful English-language poets. The result is a first-rate conversation between poetics, a marvel.”

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