Kawsay - La llama de selva: María Vázquez Valdez with Margaret Randall, Urayoán Noel, Elizabeth Zuba, Mónica de la Torre, and Lila Zemborain (WILLIAMSBURG)

Join the Operating System for a bilingual poetry event in celebration of the release of the dual-language translation of María Vázquez Valdez’s Kawsay - La llama de selva / Kawsay - The flame of the jungle. Vázquez Valdez will be joined by the translator of the volume, renowned poet Margaret Randall, as well as a host of incredible bilingual poet-translators representing Belladonna* and Ugly Duckling Presse! We’re thrilled to have Urayoán Noel, Elizabeth Zuba, Mónica de la Torre, and Lila Zemborain joining us for this very special evening.

Kawsay is Vázquez Valdez’s poetic account of her experience in Peru working with the Shipibo indigenous community, and features drawings by Chizuko Osato. See more on the OS catalog, here.

"Magnificent poetry, at once strong and lyrical; a poetry of mystery, of that which is intuited and can be glimpsed through smoke and the blood canticle. Ancient Shipibo wisdom issuing from an initiation that transmits the universe of a woman of our time, now "like a disassembled apple / that suddenly shines / and sings." The ineffable transition from darkness to light in an experience that goes beyond the sensorial; a circle that beats, jungle and mountains; lines that taste like timeless knowledge and word made flesh. This is a hallucinatory book: Here is María Vázquez's Kawsay, The Flame of the Jungle, calling to us from Sachamama, convening us, bewitching us..." - Chely Lima

"Poesía magnífica, recia y lírica al mismo tiempo; una poesía del misterio, de lo que se intuye o se alcanza a vislumbrar entre el humo y el cántico de la sangre. La antiquísima sabiduría Shipibo vertida en una iniciación que transmuta el universo de una mujer de nuestros días, ahora “como una manzana desollada / que de pronto se ilumina / y canta”. El tránsito inefable de la oscuridad hacia la luz en una experiencia que va más allá de lo sensorial; un círculo que late, selva y cordillera; los versos que se paladean como miel del conocimiento intemporal y la letra hecha carne. Un libro-enteógeno: Aquí Kawsay, la llama de la selva de María Vázquez, llamándonos desde la Sachamama, convocándonos, hechizándonos…" - Chely Lima  


María Vázquez Valdez was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. She is a poet, editor, writer, and translator. Her books include several poetry collections, such as Caldero (1999), Estancias (2004), and Kawsay. La llama de la selva (2018); the book of essays Estaciones del albatros (2008); the bilingual book of interviews Voces desdobladas / Unfolding Voices (2004); and five books for children and young readers.

She has translated several books of poetry, and received a degree in journalism, a Masters in editing, and a Doctorate in critical theory. She has been the director of publications at the Union of Latin American Universities (UDUAL) and editor in chief of some literary publications.

María is now a member of the Mexican Academy of the Language’s editorial team, as well as of other academic and cultural projects, and currently is developing the poetry collection MarEs DeCierto Ediciones.

Margaret Randall (New York, 1936) is a poet, essayist, oral historian, translator, photographer and social activist. She lived in Latin America for 23 years (in Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua). From 1962 to 1969 she and Mexican poet Sergio Mondragón co-edited EL CORNO EMPLUMADO / THE PLUMED HORN, a bilingual literary quarterly that published some of the best new work of the sixties. When she came home in 1984, the government ordered her deported because it found some of her writing to be “against the good order and happiness of the United States”. With the support of many writers and others, she won her case in 1989. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, she taught at several universities, most often Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Randall’s most recent poetry titles include AS IF THE EMPTY CHAIR / COMO SI LA SILLA VACIA, THE RHIZOME AS A FIELD OF BROKEN BONES, ABOUT LITTLE CHARLIE LINDBERGH, SHE BECOMES TIME, and THE MORNING AFTER: POETRY & PROSE IN A POST-TRUTH WORLD (all from Wings Press). CHE ON MY MIND (a feminist poet’s reminiscence of Che Guevara, published by Duke University Press), and MORE THAN THINGS (essays, from The University of Nebraska Press) are other recent titles. HAYDEE SANTAMARIA, CUBAN REVOLUTIONARY: SHE LED BY TRANSGRESSION was released by Duke in 2015. EXPORTING REVOLUTION: CUBA’S GLOBAL SOLIDARITY was published by Duke in 2017. Two of Randall’s photographs are in the Capitol Art Collection in Santa Fe. She has also devoted herself to translation, producing WHEN RAINS BECOME FLOODS by Lurgio Galván Sánchez and ONLY THE ROAD / SOLO EL CAMINO, an anthology of eight decades of Cuban poetry (both also published by Duke). Red Mountain Press in Santa Fe and The Operating System in Brooklyn have brought out her translations of individual Cuban poets. Randall received the 2017 Medalla al Mérito Literario, awarded by Literatura en el Bravo in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. In 2018 her Time's Language: Selected Poems 1959-2018 will come out from Wings Press in a special 450-page hardcover edition complete with chronology and photographs. (All Wings Press books are distributed to the trade by Independent Publishers Group.) Randall's web page is www.margaretrandall.org. She lives in Albuquerque with her partner (now wife) of more than 30 years, the painter Barbara Byers, and travels extensively to read, lecture and teach.


Urayoán Noel is an associate professor of English and Spanish at New York University, and also teaches at the MFA of the Americas at Stetson University. His books include, most recently, the poetry collection Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico (University of Arizona Press) and the critical study In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press). He is currently completing a book based on his improvisational poetry vlog (www.wokitokiteki.com) as well as two translation projects: a bilingual edition of the Chilean poet Pablo de Rokha, Architecture of Dispersed Life: Selected Poetry, forthcoming from Shearsman Books, and a chapbook by Garifuna Guatemalan poet Wingston González, for Ugly Duckling Presse. Originally from Puerto Rico, Urayoán Noel lives in the South Bronx.

Elizabeth Zuba is a poet and translator of poetry and artists’ writings from the French and Spanish. She is the author of two books of poetry (Song Cave 2015 and SplitLevel Texts 2016), a monograph on American artist Ray Johnson Not Nothing (Siglio Press, 2014), and the translator of over ten books of poetry and writings, including several by Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers, and texts by Duchamp, Picabia, Satie, and other contributors to Dada magazine The Blind Man (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018). Elizabeth won the French Voices award in 2017 for her translation of Anouck Durand’s Eternal Friendship (Siglio Press). Her most recent translation is the late Argentine poet Arnaldo Calveyra’s first book of poetry Letters So That Happiness (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018).

Mónica de la Torre has published five poetry books, including The Happy End/All Welcome (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017), Public Domain (Roof Books, 2008), and Talk Shows (Switchback, 2007), as well as two collections in Spanish published in Mexico City, where she was born and raised. She has translated an array of Latin American poets including the late Gerardo Deniz, and coedited the anthology Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon Press). She has participated in several multidisciplinary collectives, among them Taller de Taquimecanografía, whose self-titled volume was published in 2011 by Tumbona Ediciones. Her work has also appeared in the volume The Animated Reader: Poetry of Surround Audience (2015), published in conjunction with the New Museum’s Triennial. She was senior editor at BOMB Magazine from 2007 to 2016. De la Torre holds an MFA in poetry as well as a PhD in Latin American and Iberian Cultures from Columbia University. She is the Bonderman Assistant Professor of the Practice of Literary Arts at Brown University.


Poet and critic Lila Zemborain (Argentina) is the author of several poetry collections: Abrete sésamo debajo del agua (1993), Usted(1998), Guardianes del secreto (2002) - translated into English as Guardians of the Secret (2009), Malvas orquídeas del mar (2004) - translated into English as Mauve Sea-orchids (2007) - Rasgado(2006) –translated into French as Déchiré (2013), El rumor de los bordes (2011), Diario de la hamaca paraguaya (2014), Materia blanda (2014), and the chapbooks Ardores (1989), and Pampa(2001). She has collaborated with artist Martin Reyna in La couleur de l’ eau / El color del agua (2008) translated into French by Sarah T. Reyna, and with poet Joan Navarro and artist Pere Salinas in Llum Cinabri / Calma tectónica (2015) -translated into Catalan by Joan Navarro. Her work has also appeared in the art catalogues Alessandro Twombly (2007) – translated by Rosa Alcalá, Heidi McFall (2005) translated by Hanya Wozniak, and in numerous publications from Latin America, Spain and the US. Zemborain holds a Ph.D. degree from New York University. As a critic, she is the author of Gabriela Mistral. Una mujer sin rostro(2002). She is the Creative editor of Xul Solar. Jorge Luis Borges.The Art of Friendship (2013). She has been the director and editor of the Rebel Road Series (2000-2007) and, since 2004, she curates the KJCC Poetry Series at New York University. In 2006 she taught in the Summer Writing Program at Naropa University. In 2007 she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship, in 2010 a Residency Fellowship at the Millay Colony, and in 2015 she was a finalist for the Festival de la Lira Award, from Ecuador. She was the Director of the Creative Writing in Spanish Program at NYU from 2009 to 2012.




María Vázquez Valdez nació en Zacatecas, México. Es poeta, editora, escritora y traductora. Ha publicado varios libros de poesía, entre ellos Caldero (1999), Estancias (2004), y Kawsay. La llama de la selva (2018); también ha publicado el libro de ensayos Estaciones del albatros (2008); el libro bilingüe de entrevistas Voces desdobladas / Unfolding Voices (2004); y cinco libros para niños y jóvenes.

Ha traducido varios libros de poesía del inglés al español. Estudió una licenciatura en periodismo, una maestría en edición, y un doctorado en teoría crítica. Ha sido jefa de publicaciones de la Unión de Universidades de América Latina (UDUAL), y editora de varias publicaciones literarias.

Actualmente es miembro del equipo editorial de la Academia Mexicana de la Lengua, así como de otros proyectos académicos y culturales, y actualmente desarrolla la colección de poesía MarEs DeCierto Ediciones.