Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Poems from the Coffee Lands

This is a chapbook anthology of poems from eight countries; it’s about the dimensions of a postcard, 32 pages including bios, publication histories of the poems, small guidebook-pretty pictures and a contents page. Says the introduction, “These countries, whose soil, topography and climate combine to produce the world’s best coffee beans are also lands with a rich heritage of poetry. A coincidence?”

I picked up this little book a couple years ago, having stopped in at the Starbucks a half block from the library for my morning coffee and croissant. It was a freebie and maybe it came with a bag of beans or a tiny scoop or something, I don’t remember quite. The poetry isn’t bad. Yes, I was surprised not only that the poetry wasn’t bad but that it also wasn’t familiar, that I recognized only three of the fifteen poets (Octavio Paz, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Ruben Dario), and that most of the poems are translations. No editor is credited, though a note on the back cover says, “Prepared by TidbitBooks.” A Google search returns nothing.

It did sit around awhile before I finally read it through. “garden detached / from any idyll / or atrocity” – Duda Machado (tr. R. Alfarano) … “the sky walked / from eye to eye” – Eunice Odio (tr. M. Collins)

Too bad they haven’t made this a regular thing. On the other hand, it’s now time for me to throw it away. Toujours gai!

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