Damaris Calderón
(Cuba, 1967)   
Damaris Calderón

Damaris Calderón was born in Havana. In 1988 she published her first volume of poems, Con el terror del quilibrista (‘With the fear of the tightrope walker’). Duras aguas del trópico (‘Hard waters of the tropics’) appeared in 1992.

In 1994 she published Guijarros (‘Pebbles’) at her own expense. At intervals she studied philology at the University of Havana, and for years taught amateur artists in Jagüey Grande. She currently studies classical languages and literature at the University of Santiago, Chile, where, in 1999, her collection Duro de roer (‘Hard to swallow’) appeared. She also published Las flores del mal (‘The flowers of evil’), which deals with an entirely different kind of reality than that of Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal. For her children’s book Se adivina un país (‘Guess a country’), published in Cuba in 1999, the Cuban Writers’ Union (UNEAC) awarded her the National Prize for children’s books. In Chile, the daily newspaper El Mercurio awarded her the prize for an unpublished book for her poetry collection Sílabas (‘Syllables’). She was the first woman, and foreigner at that, to receive the prize since its institution. The Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas praises her ‘vision and language, with which she creates a truly poetic texture’. He notes that ‘the birth, as well as the growth and conclusion of each poem are excellent’.

Damaris Calderón’s poetry is intense in tone, sometimes angry, even harsh. It contains words like cut, beat, bounce, run, mow, break. She evokes a world of violence, indoors and outdoors. Yet she does not call names, or indict.

© Mariolein Sabarte Belacortu (Translated by Ko Kooman)

[Damaris Calderón took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2002. This text was written on that occasion.]


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