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Born in Granada, Spain, in 1980, Fernando Valverde is widely considered one of the top young poets writing in Spanish today. Valverde is a leading figure in a movement of contemporary poets known as the Poetry of Uncertainty, and he has received some of the most significant awards for poetry in Spanish. This bilingual edition of his book The Insistence of Harm introduces English-language readers to some of his latest, most exciting work.

The Insistence of Harm is a series of poignant lyric poems that takes readers from India to the Balkans to Spain and to Latin America, exploring the nature of “harm” in its various guises—war, disease, heartbreak, suicide. The poems grapple with both the reality of loss and the distance that language imposes on it. The English translations by Allen Josephs and Laura Juliet Wood effectively capture both tone and content while attending to subtle nuances of the original Spanish, bringing a new and important voice to students of Spanish and poetry readers alike.

A volume in the series Contemporary Spanish-Language Poetry in Translation, edited by Allen Josephs, funded by the University of West Florida

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813064352
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Series: Contemporary Spanish-Language Poetry in Translation
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 1,147,687
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Fernando Valverde is visiting distinguished professor in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Virginia. He is the author of several books of poetry, including Eyes of the Pelican.

Allen Josephs, University Research Professor in the Department of English at the University of West Florida, is the author of a dozen books, all related to Spain and Latin America.

Laura Juliet Wood, poet and translator based in Pensacola, Florida, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is the author of All Hands Lost.

Read an Excerpt


Lo supimos después,

sin tiempo para nada.

Porque tal vez la vida nos dio todo al principio

y seguimos buscando

un camino que lleve a ese lugar,

un puñado de polvo

que guarde el equilibrio suficiente

para no convertirse

en aire o en montaña.

Porque tal vez la vida no nos perteneció

y se fue consumiendo

como todas las cosas que hemos creído nuestras

y son parte del daño

que dibuja las líneas de la historia

derribando ciudades con sus muros.

Y de haberlo sabido

habríamos juntado nuestras manos

o mirado a otra parte.

Y de haberlo sabido,

habríamos mordido nuestros labios

sangrando en el amor

para dejar visibles las heridas,

o habríamos rezado,

o renunciado a todo para quedarnos quietos

y no cruzar los días que agonizan.

Es todo tan inmenso que no cabe en el llanto

y el dolor nos observa desde fuera.

Lo supimos después,

no hay nostalgia más grande que aquella del futuro


We found out afterward,

no time for anything.

Because maybe life gave us everything at the start

and we keep on searching for

a road that leads to that place,

a handful of dust

with enough stability

not to turn into

air or a mountain.

Because maybe life didn’t belong to us

and went about consuming itself

like all the things we thought were ours,

and they are part of the harm

that draws the lines of history

knocking down cities and their walls.

And had we found out

we would have folded our hands

or looked the other way.

And had we found out

we would have bitten our lips

bleeding in the love

in order to make the wounds visible,

or we would have prayed,

or given up everything to remain still

and not suffer the agony of days to come.

It’s all so immense it won’t fit into the lament

and grief observes us from afar.

We found out afterwards,

there’s no nostalgia greater than that of the future.

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

1. Crosses and Shadows 11

The Maid of Scarborough 13

Ratko Mladić Talks with Death 17

Walker on a Sea of Fog 23

Lament for the Dead 25

With Open Eyes You Walk through Death 29

Izet Sarajlić Crosses a Threshold Leading to Grief 37

Land of the Weak 41

2. Voyage of the World 43

Celia 45

The Edge of the Cliff 51

A Trail to You 53

Winter Postcard 55

Malá Strana Nocturne (Love Poem) 57

Daybreak 59

Daybreak 61

Yesterday 63

The Gambler 65

Abandoned Docks 67

3. Sadness in Maps 69

(San Salvador) 71

(Kutná Hora) 73

(Puebla) 75

(Potočari) 77

(Bogotá) 79

(Ruins of Toniná, Chiapas) 81

(Levizzano) 83

(Syntagma Square, Athens) 85

(San Cristóbal Beach) 87

(Field of Blackbirds) 91

(Agra) 93

4. The Light Will Not Arrive Alive Tomorrow 95

Harm 97

Memories Erased 101

The Fever Tree 105

Earthquake 109

Becoming Shadow 113

Journey 115

If the Sea Still Exists 117

The Weakness of the Light 119

Babel 123

Dedications 129

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Valverde, one of the most accomplished young poets writing in Spanish today, grapples with the sorrow of aging, death, and lost love in language that both makes us feel the immediacy of pain and its transcendence through poetry.”—Anthony Geist, translator of Luis Hernández’s The School of Solitude: Collected Poems

“The translations are faithful but also artful, attending to both literal meaning and the multi-layered figurative language that gives Valverde’s work its rich texture and depth. His landscapes correspond to inner states of mind, his earthly journeys to inward ones.”—Carolyn Forché, author of What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance

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