The selected poems of Puerto Rican writer Sotero Rivera Avilés (1933-1994), translated from Spanish by the poet’s grandson, the writer Raquel Salas Rivera, cut across time to create a potent poetry of place.
THE RUST OF HISTORY presents the selected poems of Puerto Rican writer Sotero Rivera Avilés (1933-1994), translated from Spanish by the poet’s grandson, the writer Raquel Salas Rivera. Lyrical, close, and resistant to the ease of closure, these poems cut across time to create a potent poetry of place. Rooted and exploratory, bound to anti-imperialism, the poems unfold and keep unfolding how to live for and against home.
This work is massive in its scope. Sotero Rivera Avilés writes about being a post-war veteran, he demystifies archetypes, he speaks openly about his disabilities, he complicates narratives of education, and leaves a record of regionalisms from a world that no longer exists. The resulting body of work illuminates how revisiting loss can be a means of remembering.
About translating the work, Raquel Salas Rivera writes: “My hope, since I undertook this work, has been to lean into my obsession with Sotero Rivera Avilés’ life and accept my desire to see myself, my queerness, and my transness in his successful and failed attempts at upholding societal expectations… We can't spend our lives living under the shadows of our elders. Other things must be remembered if we are to reimagine the futures we inherit.”
Poetry. Translation. Latinx Studies. LGBTQ+ Studies.
Sotero Rivera Avilés was a poet, critic, novelist, and essayist born in 1933 in Añasco, Puerto Rico. He co-founded the group Mester de poetas and the literary journal homónima. He was the author of several books of poetry, including Nostalgia, Abandonos, the unpublished manuscript El Pueblo Obscuro y una puerta al jardín, a journal titled 1963, Cuaderno de tierra y hombre for which he won the Premio Ventana, and Nada pierdes, caballo viejo (Faena de remedios). He also authored the critical study, La generación del 60: Aproximaciones a tres autores. Rivera Avilés passed away in 1994, leaving behind a wife, five children, and three grandchildren, including Raquel Salas Rivera.
Raquel Salas Rivera (Mayagüez, 1985) is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and editor. His honors include being named Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry, the inaugural Ambroggio Prize, the Laureate Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship to translate the poetry of his grandfather, Sotero Rivera Avilés. He is the author of six full-length poetry books, which have been longlisted and shortlisted for the National Book Award, the Pen America Open Book Award, and the CLMP Firecracker Award. He co-edited the anthology, Puerto Rico en mi corazón. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania and lives, teaches, and writes in Puerto Rico.