Only the Road / Solo el Camino

Eight Decades of Cuban Poetry

Only the Road / Solo el Camino

Book Pages: 528 Illustrations: Published: October 2016

Editor: Margaret Randall

Translator: Margaret Randall

General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Latin American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Poetry

Featuring the work of more than fifty poets writing across the last eight decades, Only the Road / Solo el Camino is the most complete bilingual anthology of Cuban poetry available to an English readership. It is distinguished by its stylistic breadth and the diversity of its contributors, who come from throughout Cuba and its diaspora and include luminaries, lesser-known voices, and several Afro-Cuban and LGBTQ poets. Nearly half of the poets in the collection are women. Only the Road paints a full and dynamic picture of modern Cuban life and poetry, highlighting their unique features and idiosyncrasies, the changes across generations, and the ebbs and flows between repression and freedom following the Revolution. Poet Margaret Randall, who translated each poem, contributes extensive biographical notes for each poet and a historical introduction to twentieth-century Cuban poetry. 


"Randall’s collection of poetry is encyclopedic, including a vast stylistic range representative of a range of generations, some little-known voices as well as a number of LGBTQ writers. . . . Those that love poetry and are interested in seeing the work of Cubans, and especially those that also speak Spanish, should get this excellent collection." — Seattle Book Mama

"This anthology serves as a broad, bilingual survey of Cuban poets born during the twentieth century. Special attention is paid to diversity, with women making up nearly half of the authors represented. While it’s difficult to make generalizations about style with so many on display, the sum effect is that of a time-lapse shot taken over multiple generations that shows a kind of undeniable truth about the essence of Cuban poets and their craft." — World Literature Today

"I recommend Only the Road/Solo el camino highly. It’s a beautiful collection of poetry, some that has not been published in English translation and will be new to readers. It is also a corrective to the biased view of Cuban literature as repressed or propaganda depending on how widely published it is. We are opening up to Cuba finally, so it is incumbent on us to understand it better and how better than through its poetry." — Tonstant Weader

"Now a North American readership that knows little of foreign literatures may be able to read one of the best and most applauded poetries on the continent, as it comes to know the spiritual side of Cuba that the U.S. blockade has prevented it from experiencing first-hand." (translated from the Spanish)
  — Marilyn Bobes, La Jiribilla

"Bilingual and including short biographies of each poet, Only the Road / El Solo Camino emphasizes diversity as well as excellence, aiming for a balance that asserts that great poetry can be written by any person regardless of class, gender or race. Randall has spent years in Cuba and so is familiar with its people, its culture and its art; her knowledge is clear in her book’s introduction, which attempts to present Cuba’s recent history in a light unbiased by popular opinion." — Marisa Doherty, Jackalope Magazine

"Including the work of Cuban poets living both on and off the island, this beautifully edited work is one of the most comprehensive volumes of contemporary Cuban poetry translated into English. . . . Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers."
  — Y. Fuentes, Choice

"Impeccably designed . . . An anthology that is very representative of Cuba’s poetic output." — Marithelma Costa, Literature and Arts of the Americas

"Every compendium attempts to explain something. Because it includes voices 'from inside and out,' the book readers hold in their hands demonstrates the continuities and coincidences, departures and ruptures, of a process that is human as well as literary. It is history in other codes." — Silvio Rodríguez, Cuban singer-songwriter

"The glory and triumph of Margaret Randall’s gathering comes directly from a half century spent in and out of Cuba, the work of a participant-observer and a poet attuned to the work of others in a country long the seat of one of the world’s great centers of poetry with strong attachments to the world at large. Her voice as a translator is impeccable, close up and audible and open to all sides of what has been a long and complicated—and often contradictory—history. That so much is present here—old and new, simple and richly complex, at home and in exile—makes this an assemblage that goes to the limits of what such a gathering can possibly be. As a work for the understanding of what has happened so near to us and so far away, Only the Road is a book not only for the here and now but also for the ages." — Jerome Rothenberg

"Only the Road is a major cultural intervention at a crucial time when both the Spanish- and English-speaking literary world and beyond may experience—be moved by, delight in, weep with—the power and historical importance of a forceful body of work that defines an immense cultural legacy. This is a magnificent time to open the floodgates of a further-to-be-known poetry; a magnificent tome to enhance our détente with Cuba. Cuba: its hopes and fears, its dreams, its promise, its extraordinary intellectual rigor, its poetic literacy and resistance, its survival, a poetry captured here of over eight decades, entangled with a unique and complicated history, that anyone paying attention today cannot ignore. Margaret Randall, prodigious poet, writer, thinker, translator, editor, teacher, activist has accomplished a task of a lifetime. She has given full voice to this small island’s powerfully diverse universe. The poets here are individually—racially, politically, sexually—complex, with life stories that are captured here as well, human and heroic. Randall exhibits great care and integrity to the task. Brilliant work. 'see that you don’t abandon them./islands are imaginary worlds./cut from the sea. they journey in the loneliness of rootless lands.' (Reina Maria Rodriquez)"  — Anne Waldman, Poet, Artistic Director of the Kerouac School Summer Writing Program


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Margaret Randall is the author of dozens of books of poetry and prose, including Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led by Transgression and Che on My Mind, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction  1
Nicholás Guillén  22
Dulce María Loynaz  30
Emilio Ballagas  40
Felix Pita Rodríguez  50
José Lezama Lima  56
Virgilio Piñera  64
Mirta Aguirre  72
Samuel Feijóo  80
Gastón Baquero   86
Cleva Solís  96
Eliseo Diego  102
Cintio Vitier  116
Fina García Marruz  126
Carilda Oliver Labra  134
Fayad Jamís  142
Pablo Armando Fernández  152
Roberto Fernández Retamar  160
Heberto Padilla  170
Antón Arrufat  176
Georgina Herrera  188
Lourdes Casal  198
Miguel Barnet  204
Basilia Papastamatíu  210
José Kozer  216
Belkis Cuza Malé  224
Luis Rogelio Nogueras  232
Nancy Morejón  238
Minerva Salado  250
Lina de Feria  256
Magali Alabau  262
Excilia Saldaña  270
Mirta Yáñez  278
Raul Hernández Novás  284
Luis Lorente  294
José Pérez Olivares  302
Soleida Ríos  310
Norberto Codina  320
Reina María Rodríguez  332
Alex Fleites  348
Victor Rodríguez Núñez  356
Marilyn Bobes  372
Alfredo Zaldívar  380
Ángel Escobar  390
Ramón Fernández-Larrea  400
Sigfredo Ariel  410
Alberto Rodríguez Tosca  418
Caridad Atencio  426
Omar Pérez López  432
Laura Ruiz Montes  438
Damaris Calderón  448
María Elena Hernández  454
Alessandra Molina  464
Milena Rodríguez Gutiérrez  470
Israel Domínguez  478
Luis Yuseff  486
Anisley Negrín Ruiz  494
Acknowledgments  501
Sources  505
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A 2016 World Literature Today Notable Translation

Named a 2017 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine

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