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An “ironic, intimate, and sometimes psychedelic book” entwining the political history of the 1980s in Peru with the poet’s autobiography.
English debut by Azerbaijani-born Peruvian poet Álvaro Lasso. Marked by dark, absurdist humor, these "pop" prose poems capture snippets from the poet's youth and publishing career while grappling with revolution, idealism, and the disintegration of the Leftist coalition Izquierda Unida in 1980s Peru.
Poetry. Latinx Studies.
“The genre-defying pieces of Peruvian poet and publisher Alvaro Lasso’s UNITED LEFT are thick, nimble surrealist missives, warm with nostalgia for a leftist utopia that never was. They take on a new life in English; Kelsi Vanada’s translations are popping with movement and precision.” — Katherine M. Hedeen, translator of Prepoems in Postspanish
“Lasso’s poems cut through the glamor and charm of belonging and belief with prose so spare neither author nor reader have anywhere to hide. Kelsi Vanada expertly renders this clarity into an English that knows exactly when to get out of the way so each prose poem can realize itself as a tiny piece of real estate, leaving the reader pitched vertiginously at the edge of our investments in ideology and with nowhere left to run.” — Farid Matuk, author of The Real Horse: Poems
“In Álvaro Lasso’s UNITED LEFT, humor, absurdity, the political, and the personal echo into each other and then feedback, a parallel for the coming together and then disintegration of innocence and ideology.” — Gabriel Dozal, author of The Border Simulator
“When it comes to decapitations, I have only one thing to say: it’s tough to learn to perfect a smile for the executioner.” Like the best of Tomaž Šalamun, these crackling, unruly prose poems by Álvaro Lasso confront our difficult human reality with a sometimes-bloodied and always absurd humor, laughing down the barrel of a gun. In Kelsi Vanada’s deeply empathic, mesmerizing translation, UNITED LEFT doesn’t simply sing but does something far more athletic and daring: these poems cartwheel and waltz on the page, they sweat joy, they cackle and conspire and run with knives in their teeth. What a rare gift to be able to spend time in their company. — Becka Mara McKay, author of The Little Book of No Consolation
Article @ Poetry DailyFeature @ Asymptote JournalFeature @ Cine y Literatura (en español)Feature @ Liston Diario (en español)
Kelsi Vanada's translations include The Visible Unseen by Andrea Chapela (Restless Books); Damascus, Atlantis: Selected Poems by Marie Silkeberg (Terra Nova Press), which was longlisted for the 2022 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation; Into Muteness by Sergio Espinosa (Veliz Books); and The Eligible Age by Berta García Faet (Song Bridge Press). She published Rare Earth, a chapbook of poems (Finishing Line Press). Kelsi holds MFAs in Poetry (Iowa Writers' Workshop) and Literary Translation (The University of Iowa), and works as the Program Director of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) in Tucson, Arizona.
Álvaro Lasso was born in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, in 1982. At ten months old, he was relocated to Peru. He studied Hispanic Literature at Peru's Pontificia Universidad Católica and founded the poetry festival Novissima Verba (2001-2006); the poetry magazine Odumodneurtse! (2003-2006); and the Libromóvil project (2011-2015), a series of street booksellers in Peru. He is both founder and editor of Estruendomudo, one of the most important independent publishing companies in Latin America since 2004. Lasso has published three books: Dos niñas de Egon Schiele [Two of Egon Schiele's Girls, 2006], The Astrud Gilberto Album , and Izquierda Unida [United Left, Celacanto 2015, La Bella Varsovia 2016 and Overol, 2018]. Currently, he is a digital nomad.