Omar Pérez

Picture of Author Omar PĂ©rez
Omar Pérez recording audio versions of his poems at the studio of Dennis Casteleiro. Havana, 1 June 2010. Photo by Kristin Dykstra.

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About the author

Born in 1964 in Havana, Cuba, Omar Pérez López is a member of the first generation to live fully under the auspices of the island's post-1959 government: children raised to envision the present and future in socially experimental terms. His second poetry collection, Oíste hablar del gato de pelea?, or Did You Hear about the Fighting Cat?, offered a mature, yet unusual, response to that ongoing challenge. The book was originally published by Letras Cubanas in 1998.

Pérez' literary career ranges from poetry to essays and translations. His first book of poetry was the highly regarded Algo de lo sagrado (Havana: Unión, 1996), reprinted in a bilingual edition from Factory School with translations by Kristin Dykstra (New York, 2007). He was awarded Cuba's Nicolás Guillén Prize for Poetry for Crítica de la razón puta in late 2009, and early 2010 saw the release of his multilingual book of poems, Lingua Franca (Unión).

Pérez won the Cuban National Critics' Prize for the category of the essay in 2000 with his collection La perseverancia de un hombre oscuro. A later essay, 'The Zen Dojo in Havana,' is well worth reading with his Buddhist poetry in mind; an English-language translation with critical commentary by Kristin Dykstra appears in Origin~Longhouse. Meanwhile Pérez has published translations of work by writers ranging from William Shakespeare to Dylan Thomas and Yusef Komunyakaa, among many others. Recently he began to compose regguetón poems (sound files forthcoming at the PennSound archive) and original poetry in English.

Jacket magazine, issue 35, has a special feature on Pérez here, and an interview by the poet with Kent Johnson here.

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