Absolute Solitude


Translated from by

Published: May 3, 2016





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Book Description

Absolute Solitude is a comprehensive selection of the prose poems from Dulce María Loynaz’s Poems Without Names. First published in Spain in 1953, Poems Without Names achieved both critical and popular success. Gabriela Mistral called them “pure condensations of poetry, the pure bone of the affair: it is interior poetry.” Absolute Solitude also contains a selection of prose poems from Autumn Melancholy, published posthumously in 1997. This is the first major selection dedicated to Dulce María Loynaz’s prose poetry, and it brings to American readers one of Cuba’s most celebrated poets, a poet Juan Ramón Jiménez described as “archaic and new, a phosphorescent reality of her own incredibly human poetry, her fresh language, tender, weightless, rich in abandon.”

We tend to assume that political poetry announces its commitment to the here and now. Loynaz leaves us at sea, favoring an elemental vocabulary of rains, winds, rivers, waves, wings, and stars. Her poems ... ride a recursive current. They inspire doubt in the power of forward movement to manifest a new reality.

Carina del Valle Schorske, The New Yorker's Page-Turner

Dulce María, the gentle ivory-tower woman cut in a light feminine form between the gothic and the overreal...Brief as well as delicate, her tenuous Cuban word that would never allow itself to be cut in half, like paper of fossilized silk...a phosphorescent reality of her own incredibly human poetry, her fresh language, tender, weightless, rich in abandon, in feeling, the mystic irony on the lined paper of her everyday notebook like roses shrouded in the common.

Juan Ramón Jiménez

Characterized by a restless fusion of European and Afro-Caribbean influences, Loynaz’s poems evoke the problematic dynamic of self, identity, and a deliberate dissolution...James O’Connor’s English translation, presented en face, is not doggedly literal but instead supports the transformational elements of Loynaz’s work. His approach reinforces the remarkable fluidity of her phrasings, which have a refractive nature, giving rise to multiple potential translations, each with subtle metaphysical shadings…The result is satisfying and triggers self-reflection.

Susan Smith Nash, World Literature Today

A cosmos of paradoxes, of encounters and failed encounters, of reality made into literature and literature seeped into reality.

Esperanza Lara Velázquez

That equilibrium between fortitude and tenderness—the strong and the sensible—never denies its feminine cast; just like it was never hidden in the life of Dulce Mariá Loynaz.

César López

If a picture is worth a thousand words a line from Loynaz is worth many times more.

Joseph Spuckler

The poems are intensely personal, and yet encompass universal themes: the agonies of love, the pleasures and terrors of solitude, wrestling with the divine. I was reminded, at different times, of Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Leonard Cohen, and Gabriela Mistral; while I often find contemporary prose poems difficult—too obscure, I suppose—these I found to be transporting.

Carolyn O

James O'Connor has seemingly seamlessly translated these powerful little prose poems, they gleam and punch...These poems have fought off age, indifference, political scrutiny and sanction, they have fought off time to remain fresh and full of playful magic.

Michael Dennis, Today's Book of Poetry

[Absolute Solitude] showcase[s] the poet’s precision and transparency, holding true to her conviction that poetry represents no end point, but rather a journey, a movement... O’Connor beautifully brings the collection into English, rendering Loynaz’s intimacy delicate and strong, her poetic subject bold and emotionally bare.

Kenyon Review

Read translator James O’Connor on Loynaz’s life and legacy, and the ironies of her fame as a Cuban writer.

In this moving reflection following Dulce Maria Loynaz’s death in 1997, Ruth Behar discusses Loynaz’s works, womanism, and the erasure of her legacy.

Visit “A woman in her garden” to learn more about Dulce Maria Loynaz’s life, historical context, significance, and place in society. The website also features translated videos of Loynaz.