Deuda Natal

Mara Pastor (Author), María José Giménez (Author), Anna Rosenwong (Author)
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Deuda Natal finds the beauty within vulnerability and the dignity amidst precariousness. As one of the most prominent voices in Puerto Rican poetry, Mara Pastor uses the poems in this new bilingual collection to highlight the way that fundamental forms of caring for life—and for language—can create a space of poetic decolonization. The poems in Deuda Natal propose new ways of understanding as they traverse a thematic landscape of women’s labor, the figure of the nomad and immigrant, and the return from economic exile to confront the catastrophic confluence of disaster and disaster capitalism.

The poems in Deuda Natal reckon with the stark environmental degradation in Puerto Rico and the larger impacts of global climate change as they navigate our changing world through a feminist lens. Pastor’s work asserts a feminist objection to our society’s obsession with production and the accumulation of wealth, offering readers an opportunity for collective vulnerability within these pages. For this remarkable work, Pastor has found unique allies in María José Giménez and Anna Rosenwong, the translators of Deuda Natal. Winner of the 2020 Ambroggio Prize of the Academy of American Poets, this collection showcases masterfully crafted and translated poems that are politically urgent and emotionally striking.
"Even in grief and precarity, Mara Pastor’s project is a restorative one: surveying what can be creatively salvaged of old loves, dead revolutionaries, secondhand furniture, worn-out words, and half-forgotten songs. She’s a National Poet of Everyday Life, attuned to the strange histories and fantastic futures that flash into view in the shower, the gas station, the shuttered ice cream shop. Her poetry teaches that losses, too, can become a form of philosophical riches in the right hands. What’s rumored to get lost in translation turns sly and wise in this collaboration with María José Giménez and Anna Rosenwong as the poems begin to respond to their own migrations: 'This, too, is why / we write, so another person can live on the edge of some word / with no translation.'"—Carina del Valle Schorske, New York Times contributing writer and author of The Other Island, forthcoming from Riverhead

"Mara Pastor’s necessary bilingual collection navigates a perishable paradise while shouldering a debt that’s carried from cradle to grave. Through this tension, Pastor poignantly breaks our planet and our hearts wide open. These poems do not let us look away from our neglect. Rather, Deuda Natal urges us to hold one another as we sing and mourn."—Gloria Muñoz, author of Danzirly

"One of Puerto Rico’s most important poets, Mara Pastor’s poetics reaches up from the paradisiacal quotidian of a colony that has been overdetermined at the beginning and end of empire. She imagines students gathering words as if cleaning an oil spill, and I imagine her guiding them along the beach, pulling life out of death, and verses out of the oily water. Her significance for Puerto Rico and its poetry goes beyond the name she has made for herself through, not only her writing, but her love for our writing. We need Mara Pastor. We need her to continue to find us wandering among her plants, disoriented by the simplest tasks in the most complicated of places. We need her to tell us we are not lost, but arriving still, always arriving."—Raquel Salas Rivera, author of lo terciario/ the tertiary and while they sleep (under the bed is another country)

Deuda Natal is a book of extraordinary simplicity and depth. It searches and (re)searches many truths and finds them, not in absolute values, but in the objects and acts of daily life: the home, romantic and maternal love, the roads that lead to the sea, and the comings and goings of migration, a world many of us inhabit. Deuda Natal is a book for everyone, those who come, those who go, and those who stay.”—Pablo Medina, author of Soledades

"Pastor is a chiseler of hard-won life experiences. The Other, in these hyper-compressed tales, actually counts. And interrelates. And creates a surplus of tension, enjoyment, but also, a radiant uncertainty. Her deft lines burst through in high relief–and the result is multi-scalar: when she’s talking about personal, it’s a wide public affair; when she talks wide public, it’s a personal intimation. Pastor fights impermanence by alchemizing permanencies into being. Phew ... Pastor is simply one of my absolute favorite poets."––­Rodrigo Toscano, author of The Charm and the Dread

“There are books that are forecasted, books that are rounded up, and then there are books that you wait for no matter the storm. Deuda Natal by Mara Pastor, along with the accompanying translations, will awaken our consciousness to what will happen if we don’t pay closer, more compassionate attention to the climate and, more profoundly, our souls.”––­Willie Perdomo, The Crazy Bunch


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