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Eva Skrande’s poems are fascinating for their intrinsic beauty. Abreacting from Eliot’s ideal of an impersonal poetry, most contemporary North Americans have fetishized the personal. But, there are other choices beyond the insipidity of this either/or. Eva Skrande’s wonderful poems arise from a tradition which might be termed transpersonal or subpersonal.
Skrande’s imagination. (“What happens to rain that trips on its way down?”) Skrande’s arithmetic. (“Two stars plus four moons equals six trees.”) Skrande’s quandaries. (“Another day of not knowing if I am butterfly or mule.”) Skrande’s imagery. (“The darkness was a bouquet of shadows.”) Skrande’s advice. “(When the earth cries/loosen its belt.”) All of them creating a new world out of what the rest of us know and see and experience, the strangely familiar and the familiarly strange combining into small and steady encounters with transcendence. I love this collection. I am relieved by its existence: it shows me that there are poems in the world that love the world, scare the world, interrogate the world, and trust language to do its finest work. Skrande’s narrators bite from the apple again and again, taking tastes of knowledge each time, which she generously shares with her reader in forms of praise, petition and prophecy (a comely trio).
There is not a prosaic bone in the body of Bone Argot. And these poems don’t peek out from behind a curtain; they step out front center stage and sing their music loud. With lyric echoes of Cuban and South American poetry, a touch of Lamentations and Song of Solomon, Eva Skrande has distilled her unique craft to compose poems of a high order, musically and imaginatively. Over and over, her poems hit their mark. Bone Argot is a lovely, brave book. It animates. It provides. Read it with the whole heart it whole-heartedly deserves.
Eva Skrande is a potent poet. Every line in Bone Argot claims a new space in the literary kingdom. Every poem kicks over barriers.
Her work raids the ivory tower for forms and tropes as she broadens the American imagination, claiming a new space for Latinx writers.
Walk into these poems of nature, the quotidian, the world and walk out changed. Welcome to a new generation of poetry.
Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante,
founder of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say
In this magnificent new collection, earthy, transformative, the natural world filled by tenderness and love and grief, we would do well to follow Skrande’s advice and “turn east toward chrysanthemums,” to “praise their perfect circles of blue.” Here is hush and spirits arising, the light serene, imploring, the movements of the conflicted present, and the stillness of medieval saints. It is a lovely book, a “necklace of white clouds” each of us would do well to wear.
Praise for My Mother’s Cuba
My Mother's Cuba is rich and vivid, emotionally expansive, gently surreal, deeply humane. It is a marvelous debut.
This long-overdue, first full-length collection by Eva Skrande is filled with delights, not the least of which is an exuberant, intense, and indefatigable poetic imagination. This is a wonderful book. Read it!
If the author of the Bible’s “The Song of Solomon” were reborn in Cuba, reared in Florida, and had read Neruda, he might write poetry with the range and rich evocations found in Eva Skrande’s My Mother’s Cuba: “The moon is the émigré’s/dark baggage.” And if Isaiah, the prophet of exile, had lived through the 20th Century and absorbed the poets of post-World-War Europe, he might say, as Skrande does so well, “I wander, too, from Cuba to Florida, to this or that peninsula, and my right hand never forgets Jerusalem.”
Eva Skrande was born in Havana, Cuba and, at the age of five, immigrated with her family to Miami, Florida. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. She is the author of My Mother’s Cuba (River City Publishing) and a chapbook, The Gates of the Somnambulist (Jeanne Duval Editions). Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly, The Cortland Review, and Ploughshares, among others. Skrande has received fellowships from the University of Houston, the Inprint Foundation, and the Houston Arts Alliance. She has taught for Writers in the Schools, the University of Houston, Houston Community College, and currently teaches Creative Writing at Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School. She lives in Houston with her husband and daughter.