SmallStations - Books in English

This volume brings together, for the first time in English translation, all three books of poetry by this author, two of them published in his lifetime (Poems 1981/1991 and Last Poetry of Love and Illness 1992-1995) and one posthumously (Poems for a Skylark). Like any true poet, Lois Pereiro lived on the edge, between cultures, spending time outside his native Galicia in Madrid, learning foreign languages, travelling as much as he could. He was also the victim of toxic oil syndrome at an early age, which was followed by a heroin addiction and the contraction of AIDS. He died at 38, having been forced to write “with delicacy in a Pandora’s box of pain”.

From Unknown to Unknown is a selection of eighty poems by Manuel Rivas in Jonathan Dunne’s English translation. The poems are taken from the Galician book Do descoñecido ao descoñecido, which contains the author’s collected poems from 1980 to 2003, a total of six poetry books and some recent poems. In 2009, the author brought out a further collection, The Disappearance of Snow, which was published in English by Shearsman Books. Manuel Rivas is Galicia’s most international author. Much of his fiction has appeared in English, and three films have been made of his work (Butterfly’s Tongue, The Carpenter’s Pencil, All Is Silence).

This revolutionary book sets out to persuade the reader that the English language is not the result of years of haphazard evolution, a chaotic atom-like conglomeration of words, but a carefully planned whole in which each word has its place and is connected by a consistent set of rules. It is not a coincidence that earth is heart or soil is soul, for instance, or that salt makes us last (‘You are the salt of the earth’) but last is in fact lst. This book journeys from the Book of Genesis and Creation to Revelation and the Last Judgement through the English language, suggesting that language has something to tell us about the environment and that he who would be true to himself is inexorably pushed out on to the margins.

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