Free Fall/Caída Libre
 

Tina Escaja

In awarding the book-length poem Caída Libre (Free Fall) the Government of the Canary Islands’ prestigious 2003 Dulce María Loynaz International Poetry Prize, the jury highlighted the “authenticity and force in the language”, reflecting the process of a pregnancy with a “hard, steeled language,” a language, though,  “not incisive, but very realistic and extraordinarily beautiful.”  “In a masterful form,” the poem, “passes from the plane of the intimate to that of the almost-epic, using a figure not found commonly in poetry: the chronicle of a pregnancy.”
(Press notes from December 10th, 2003).


But Caída Libre registers much more beyond that chronicle. Conception, delivery, and maternity unite in an epic of the derangement and celebration at the end of the millennium in New York City. And then shortly afterwards, the catastrophe of the Twin Towers with its agony and irreversible transformation of values: the fall of the West’s formulation in the previous millennium. Caída Libre is a brilliant and fundamental book to understand ourselves in our current century, in its conflicts and atrocities, but also in its soundness and revelations. The importance of its read is amplified by its Hispanic perspective and gender, and this bilingual edition opens up its accessibility.  The book is currently being taught at universities around the globe, and has been included in important critical studies.

About the Author

Tina Escaja is a poet, digital artist and scholar based in Burlington, Vermont. As a literary critic, she has published extensively on gender and contemporary Latin American and Spanish poetry and technology. Her creative work transcends the traditional book form, leaping into digital art, video and multimedia projects exhibited in museums and galleries in Spain, Mexico and the United States. In 2003 she was awarded the International Poetry Prize "Dulce María Loynaz" for her manuscript Caída Libre, published in 2004. Other poetry titles include 13 lunas 13 (2011), Código de barras (2007), and Respiración mecánica (2001/2014). Escaja has also written award-winning fiction and plays, and is the author of experimental and hypertextual poetry, including Negro en Ovejas (2011), VeloCity (2000-2002), Código de barras (2006), as well as the interactive novel Pinzas de metal (2003). Her poetry has been translated into six languages and has appeared in literary collections around the world. She is the founder of the movement Destructivism/o, initiated on the grave of Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro. Some of her digital work can be experienced at www.tinaescaja.com


About the Translator

Mark Eisner is the president of the non-profit Red Poppy, dedicated to promoting the power of Latin American poetry to evoke emotions and foster social consciousness. Under its auspices, he co-edited (with Escaja) the forthcoming multilingual anthology of Latin American Poetry in Resistance. He’s currently producing and co-directing their documentary on Pablo Neruda. Independently, he edited City Lights’ The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, and is one of the book’s principal translators. On Neruda’s 2004 Centennial, he was interviewed by NPR’s Morning Edition and read Pablo’s poetry to millions. Eisner graduated from the University of Michigan with High Honors in English/Creative Writing in 1995. In 2001, he earned an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Stanford. They subsequently named him a “Visiting Scholar” to continue his scholarly and creative work. A book of short stories having nothing to do with Neruda is next.


Mark thanks Katia Shtefan for her important contributions to this translation of Caída Libre.

Poems

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Praise for Caída Libre


“...The experience has been enriching, the best book of poems by someone living that I have read in a long time...  and I read.”

—Mairym Cruz Bernal, President of Pen Club Puerto Rico.


“To descend to Tina Escaja’s black hole of creation represents one of those miracles of contradiction, because you ascend to the height of one who creates and grasps the prodigy of feeling in unity with her for an obscure –no: for a luminous- feeling of solidarity.”

—María Victoria Atencia, renowned Spanish poet


“We are, without doubt, before a major work, of a rare and powerful authenticity that overleaps today’s current panorama of Spanish poetry.” 

—Sabas Martín, El mundo (Spanish newspaper)