tasks (tareas)

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

translated by Katherine M. Hedeen

2016, Perfect Bound Trade Paperback, 5.8" x 7.3"

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2017 National Translation Award in Poetry finalist.

2017 Best Translated Book Award—Poetry
longlist selection.

Reading in Translation "'island under our skin': tasks by Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, translated by Katherine M. Hedeen" by Kelsi Vanada
Three Percent "tasks by Víctor Rodríguez Núñez [Why This Book Should Win]" by Chad Post

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez's tasks [tareas] is an award-winning poetry collection, the recipient of Spain's Rincón de la Victoria Prize in 2010 and published there by the prestigious press Renacimiento in 2011. With striking images and memorable verses, tasks creates a testament to the poet's unique migratory experience. While seemingly the chronicle of an immigrant who returns to his native country, the poem really asks how to return if you've never actually left. Using rigorous formal aspects to create a sense of pushing beyond known limits, this innovative long poem has at its core a rethinking of the experience of otherness, in which identification—both with memory and quotidian experience and with place tangled in subjectivity—prevails over any kind of differentiation. This leads not only to a profound questioning of nationalism but also of cultural identity itself. The result, which Katherine M. Hedeen renders for Anglophone readers, is a fluid poetic subject who disrespects borders and privileges movement over fixedness.

“… I’m / a phantom in this barbershop / mirrors eaten away by shadow” Víctor Rodríguez Núñez tells us in Katherine Hedeen’s magnificent translation. And later: “I linger in the snow a royal palm on my shoulder,” and still later: “identity lurks / like a forgotten ring in a public bathroom.” These poems are intimate and historic, woven of memory, inhabiting a space that invites the reader in. This is the voice of a mature poet, a Cuban straddling the century in which his country rose about him, lifting him on shoulders of discovery, loss and everything in between. Rodríguez Núñez is one of his generation’s most powerful poets, tasks among his most satisfying books, and Hedeen’s English renderings nothing short of magical.
—Margaret Randall

The imagination of this Cuban, this true poet … stains the darkness of these times with a red squirrel guided by the light … Víctor Rodríguez Núñez doesn’t wait for the arrival of anyone because he was baptized by poetry at birth.
—Juan Gelman

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez is a poet after my own heart, a nomad witness who after the long reasoned zigzag dérive through senses & cities, tropics & topics, stands by de Greiff’s sense that “all journeys, all my journeys, are return journeys.” […] The poet is indeed a master of the craft of otherness.
—Pierre Joris

A Cuban poet who has spent much of his adult life outside Cuba, Rodríguez Núñez takes to all he sees and feels in poetry a consciousness of Cuba as place, as communities, and as a country isolated from his adopted home in America, as a form of restraint and dynamism […] I cannot speak highly enough of this poet.
—John Kinsella