José Kozer, a bilingual reading and conversation: Full program
VIdeo highlights: José Kozer reads “Ánima” (“El caballo se está comiendo las velloritas del campo….”) | José Kozer reads “Ánima” (“Voy a participar del movimiento de las constelaciones….”) | Chris Daniels reads “Anima” (“Yellowhammer. / First / trill….”) | Steve Dickison reads “Anima” (“Fog. Magpies at the top of a leafless poplar….”) | Norma Cole reads “Anima” (“On a sheet of graph paper I had jotted down some numbers….”)
Cuban poet José Kozer is reading his work in the original Spanish, with translations (by Peter Boyle) read by poets Norma Cole, Chris Daniels, and Steve Dickison.
Co-sponsored by The Poetry Center, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and the Department of Jewish Studies, SFSU. This event is free and open to the public.
José Kozer is an extraordinary poet of international renown, “recognized in the Spanish-speaking world as the foremost Cuban poet of his generation,” and an inheritor of the neo-baroque tradition after José Lezama Lima. Kozer is author of some 52 books of poetry and prose, and has lived in the US since the 1960s.
Born in Havana, Cuba (l940) of Jewish parents who emigrated from Poland (father) and Czechoslovakia (mother), Kozer left his native land in 1960, and lived in New York until 1997, the year he retired from Queens College as Full Professor, where he taught Spanish and Latin American literatures for thirty-two years. After living for two years in Torrox (Málaga) Spain, he moved twelve years ago to Hallandale, Florida, USA.
His poetry has been translated to English, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Hebrew, and Greek, has been widely anthologised, and has appeared in numerous literary journals from all over the world, and from publishers such as Gallimard (France) and Fischer Verlag (Germany), where only fifteen poets of the Latin American 20th Century appeared.
José Kozer’s books translated into English include:
The Ark Upon the Number (Cross-Cultural Communications, 1982, tr. Ammiel Alcalay; bilingual edition)
STET (Junction Press, 2006, tr. Mark Weiss; bilingual edition)
Anima (Shearsman, 2011, tr. Peter Boyle; bilingual edition)
Tokonoma (Shearsman, 2014, tr. Peter Boyle; bilingual edition)
A recent feature at Jacket2, “José Kozer and What Unfolds,” features three translations from Carece de causa and an essay “On Kozer’s Stylistics” by Australian poet Peter Boyle.
Among many works in Spanish, the prestigious editorial house Aldus (México) has published two books of prose by José Kozer, Mezcla para do tiempos and Una huella destartalanda, as well as Acta (2010), a book of poems written upon the death of the poet’s mother. Other works include Bajo este cien (originally 1983; new edition by El Bardo, Barcelona); Fondo de Cultura (México) published his Ánima; Visor (Madrid) his Y del esparto la invariabilidad; and Monte Ávila (Caracas) his Trasvasando; Torre de Letras (Havana) just published his latest book, Semovientes. A 1997 symposium on Kozer’s poetry, held at UC Irvine and organized by Prof. Jacobo Sefamí, produced a full length book, published by UNAM University in Mexico City under the title La voracidad grafómana: José Kozer.
José Kozer graduated with a B.A. from New York University in 1965, received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Queens College, CUNY in 1970 and 1983, respectively. He is the recipient of the Premio de Poesía Iberoamericana Pablo Neruda (Chile) for 2013.
I am going to take part in the movement of the constellations.
Spark or speck of a meteor.
The water is calm, fish hide among the reefs: I am going to sing
while I follow the small creek's
sinuous path to its mouth
of reeds: at my lips a reed pipe.
A peasant's broad handkerchief a fan of anemones.
I get rid of prosopopoeias metalepsis anagoges and all other propositions of
I dislodge my old self: I am carnal, I sing. Let the palace gates stand
my silhouette's contours.
A tablecloth (on) the wide meadow (the constellations, an abacus):
Call to me, bittern: heron, summon my silhouette. My mouth
crammed with burdock, milkweed
grows from my corduroy pants.
Alleluia the marten the muskrat (its mouth buckwheat) its
flower crowding the granary
José Kozer, tr. Peter Boyle
Anima, Shearsman, 2011; Tierra Firme, Mexico City, 2002