Translated by Gustavo Pérez Firmat
My Favorite Monster and Other Poems
ISBN: 978-1-956921-21-2 (paperback)
(January 15, 2024.)
As one of Spain’s most celebrated and influential poets, Luis Alberto de Cuenca has won a wide international following. His poems have been translated into several languages, among them French, German and Italian, but thus far his appearances in English have been rare.
As a self-described “pop poet,” he writes accessible, elegant and witty poems, by turns upbeat and forlorn, that look at reality from refreshingly quirky angles. Drawing on comic books, cartoons, Hollywood movies, slang, urban culture, his poems address happy and unhappy loves, fantasies and nightmares, the lineaments of big-city life. Some of them, like “Breakfast” and “Unhappily Married,” have transcended literary circles to become part of the general culture. Translated by the Cuban-American writer Gustavo Pérez Firmat, My Favorite Monster which gathers poems that span the whole of his career, is the first full-length collection of Cuenca’s poetry in English.
I loved this wonderful collection of Luis Alberto de Cuenca’s poetry. Deftly translated by poet-essayist Gustavo Pérez Firmat, these poems are a feast of wit and melancholy, illuminated with “the light of the real” but at once fantastic and funny. Start with “Breakfast,” slowly imbibe the “cocktail of fears and desires,” and be sure to check out the witches’ brew at the intergalactic pub as well!
—Noël Valis, author of Lorca After Life
Two erudite and witty poet/scholars converge in this collection, Luis Alberto de Cuenca and his translator, Gustavo Pérez Firmat. The well-balanced dance of civilized scrutiny and quotidian emotions of the originals are brought to rare life in translations that capture the humor, depth, and myriad tonalities of de Cuenca’s poems. A triumph, and a most entertaining read.
—Ricardo Pau-Llosa, author of Fleeing Actium
Luis Alberto de Cuenca’s voice is unmistakably singular, ironically because it isn’t characteristically singular. In this collection our ears (and hearts and minds) feast on a plethora of mused voices speaking all once in harmony and cacophony: the tenor of a philosopher deliberating existence alongside the wit of the comedic, the scholar of mythology alongside the aficionado of pop. All melded together by the economy and urgency that is song, that is poetry at its best.
—Richard Blanco, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Poet
Masterfully translated from the Spanish by Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Luis Alberto de Cuenca’s poems, relaxed, airy, and daydream-like, lead the reader away from humdrum daily routines into a world of distinctive, impactful images. Poems such as “Genetic Rubbish” or “The Breeze Outside” (be not deceived by its innocent title!) grab your attention and shake up your safe, cozy thoughts. I urge you to sample a few lines—in either language or, preferably, in both!
—Emilio Bernal, North American Academy of the Spanish Language