Sky Chess


Antonio Ángel Agudelo
“…a fantastic poetic world full of small miracles…” —Alejandro López Andrada


Antonio Ángel Agudelo

Translated by Claudia Routon

Artwork by Juan Carlos Mestre

Introduction by Arturo Hernández
Prologues by Alejandro López Andrada and Verónica Aranda

ISBN: 978-1-944884-82-6 (pbk.)

(June, 2020) 

Juan Carlos Mestre

Sky Chess presents, in English for the first time (with the original Spanish included on facing pages), the work of the critically acclaimed poet from Córdoba, Spain, Antonio Ángel Agudelo. This translation of his latest book, El cielo ajedrez (El sastre de Apollinaire, 2016), with additional new, never previously published, poems.  Several poets and critics preface the various sections of the book with short introductions that celebrate Agudelo’s work as a poetics of the other, as rooted in the elements, and as a portal into being rather than knowing. Agudelo includes myth and faith imagery as a newly expressed ancient language to engage ways of probing, seeing, and being. A political thread throughout the book is anchored in the poem “The House of Ethics,” suggesting poetry itself is an ethical discourse that structures and instantiates protest. This important work is enhanced by several full-color illustrations by Juan Carlos Mestre (two of which are featured on this page), which complement beautifully the daring dimensions Agudelo invites. 


…a fantastic poetic world full of small miracles, of emotions running through shadows, leaving crevices in the highest regions of the light, where time is mystery, pain, and serenity. 
—Alejandro López Andrada


Sky Chess is an illuminated world of poetry… a foundation for reflection on life as a space bordering reverie and hope. The poet …becomes an interpreter discerning what is real, always questioning the universe about those brief moments when life feels like it is on the brink of disaster in a sea of strange nostalgias. 
—Arturo Hernández


Juan Carlos Mestre

…silence, death, and grief counterbalanced by luminosity, desire, and rebirth…. This poetic oscillation affords a lyrical intensity that resounds with the truth and beauty of human connection.  
—Sandra Kingery, translator of Xánath Caraza’s Where the Light Is Violet and Hudson


Agudelo’s verse is a place where “the sky is yearning for the sky,” where there is “bread for the day bread,” where things bring us “closer to the invisible, creating the World.”  Claudia Routon deftly introduces Agudelo’s unique voice to English-language audiences in these felicitous translations.
—G. J. Racz, translator of Calderon de la Barca, Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in The Golden Age of Spanish Drama: A Norton Critical Edition


El cielo ajedrez / Sky Chess succeeds in being both a harmonious and productive bilingual edition in which the Spanish original version and Routon’s thoughtful and precise translation complete and complement each other, illuminating new readings. Agudelo’s poetic universe is at times lofty and ethereal yet grounded in deeply essential and even elemental themes. Mestre’s art captures this special mood and brightly celebrates it.
—Denise Kripper, Assistant Professor at Lake Forest College & Translation Editor at Latin American Literature Today


Routon’s faithful translation of Agudelo’s haunting verses and prose—located somewhere between desiderium and excess, melancholy and nostalgia, earthly wonder and transcendence, pleasure and angst—reminds us of the limitlessness of language and substantiates Poe’s view of poetry as the “rhythmical creation of beauty.” 
—Bonnie L. Gasior, Ph.D. Interim Director, University Honors Program & Professor of Spanish, California State University, Long Beach


Sky Chess plays with our sometimes organized, sometimes chaotic musings about life offering hope and redemption without ever shying away from its gross reality.  In Antonio Ángel Agudelo’s verse, we travel across the world to experience cultural riches, literary feasts, lovers’ dreams, spiritual imaginings. Agudelo’s voice across these themes is faithfully and lyrically rendered by Claudia Routon. The rhythm in the translation is seamless, with assonance and refrain subtly enhancing the depth of the imagery. The magical illustrations emphasize the poignancy of the writings forcing us to explore the particular beauty of melancholy throughout this work.
—Lisa Agostini, MA, Translator & Spanish Network Coordinator at the Institute for Translation and Interpreting


Additional information

Weight 16 oz
Dimensions 6 × 9 × .5 in


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