In LOTERÍA—which draws its form from the Mexican game of chance yet manages to convey a sense of inevitability with every line—Esteban Rodríguezpresents intimate and compassionate portraits of family members. Among the most vivid are those of his father, whose crossing of the desert is imagined in kaleidoscopic, multivalent sequences both harrowing and hallucinatory, and his mother, whose high spirits and physical sufferings are vividly reconstructed and turned for moving insights. Deeply companionable, offered in a voice that is simultaneously energetic and guided by confident restraint, these poems are full of love and clarity, an uncommon and welcome combination.
I ask Half-awake Is poetry possible At the moment history stirs Once its steps Reverberate through every heart?
— From “Can there be poetry after” by Anastasia Afanasieva, translated by Kevin Vaughn and Maria Khotimsky
With the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, we at The Common have been reflecting on the powerful words of many Ukrainian poets who have appeared in our pages. In recent years their work has been rooted in conflict, as the country struggled first with self-determination and later with the Russian annexation of Crimea and, since 2014, with a Russian-incited war in the East. This focus lends a feeling of prescience and timeliness to their work now, even though most of these poems are not new. We hope you’ll make time to read and reflect on the work of these poets, as we all keep Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in our thoughts.
Is Poetry Possible at the Moment History Stirs: Poets of Ukraine