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Pablo Medina

The Weight of the Island


Pablo Medina was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved with his family to New York City at the age of twelve.  Medina’s writing has been acclaimed as “lyrical and powerfully evocative” and “deserving a prominent spot in today’s literature of exile.”  His Pork Rind and Cuban Songs was the first collection of poems written directly into English by a Cuban-born writer.  In addition, he has published six other poetry collections,Arching into the Afterlife (Bilingual Press), The Floating Island (White Pine Press), Puntos de apoyo (Editorial Betania), Points of Balance (Four Way Books); The Man Who Wrote on Water (Hanging Loose Press); and Calle Habana PhotoStroud); a memoir titled Exiled Memories: A Cuban Childhood (Persea Books); and, with Carolina Hospital, Everyone Will Have To Listen/Todos me van a tener que oír (Linden Lane Press), a collection of translations from the Spanish of Cuban dissident Tania Díaz Castro. In 2008 he co-translated García Lorca’s Poet in New York (Grove Press), a work that John Ashbery called “the definitive version of Lorca’s masterpiece.”  His fifth poetry collection, Points of Balance, has been called “nothing short of linguistic mastery.” His sixth collection, The Man Who Wrote on Water, was called “exemplary” by the El Paso Times. His first two novels, The Marks of  Birth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and The Return of Felix Nogara (Persea Books),were highly praised by critics in the U.S. and abroad.  The Cigar Roller, his third novel (Grove Press), was praised as “a mental idyll. . .no less fecund than Wordsworth’s,”  while his fourth novel Cubop City Blues (Grove) has been called “a rich and stunning novel” by the LA Review of Books. He is also the author of A Trumpet Sounds, a verse drama premiered at Foundation Theater (J. E. Prusinowski, Director/Producer) in 1995 and staged at Gloucester Summer Theater (Joe Salvatore, Director)  in 1997.   Medina’s poetry and prose and translations from and to the Spanish language have been published in many periodicals and anthologies, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, the New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Arts Councils, the United States Department of State, The Oscar B. Cintas Foundation, and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, as well as fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations. >Medina served on the Board of Directors of AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) from 2002 – 2007 and was elected President in 2005 – 2006.

Pablo Medina has given lectures and readings and led writing workshops in a wide variety of settings, among them Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy; the Círculo Hispano Cubano in Madrid; the Cervantes Institute in Amman, Jordan; Jordan University; Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Universidad del Valle, Guatemala City; UC Berkeley; Columbia University; The Americas Society; the MLA Conference; The American Museum of Natural History; Davidson College; John Jay College of Criminal Justice; The Library of Congress; The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival; the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference; The Writer’s Voice of the West Side YMCA, Harvard University, and many others.  In addition, he has taught writing and literature at several colleges and universities, among them Juniata College, George Washington University, American University, Hunter College of CUNY, the Warren Wilson MFA Program, New School University, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. At present >Medina is Professor of Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry and Director of the MFA Program at Emerson College in Boston, MA.