Cristina Peri Rossi was born in Uruguay and is considered a leading light of the “Latin American Boom” generation. In 1972, after her work was banned under a repressive military regime, she left her country, moving to Spain.
This collection of poems, written during her journey and the first period of her self-exile, was so personal that it remained unpublished for almost thirty years. It is accompanied here by two brilliant essays on exile, one by Peri Rossi and the other by translator Marilyn Buck, who is an American political prisoner, exiled in her own land.
Cristina Peri Rossi is the author of thirty-seven works, including The Ship of Fools.
"State of Exile is a haunting work that sat for decades, awaiting, like cicadas, its proper season. That time is now."—Mumia Abu-Jamal
"These poems will break your heart. And then mend what was broken with a beauty that is sad and bitter and tender. What we need in these times of dislocation and loss.”—Ariel Dorfman, author of Death and the Maiden and Heading South, Looking North
"In this fierce and melancholy tale of one woman's displacement and exile, we discover the heartbreakingly contemporary narrative of all refugees, building anew, grafting fresh languages and tastes onto shattered separations and sorrow, learning again to love. Bringing us this vanished poetry of Christina Peri Rossi and making it her own, is translator Marilyn Buck, herself an internal exile bound by prison walls, but whose spirit lifts us free."—Bernardine Dohrn, co-author of Race Course: Against White Supremacy
"Li Po, Ovid, Dante, Tsvetaeva . . . what a venerated tradition the exiled Uruguayan poet, Cristina Peri Rossi shares. When her searing work was banned for criticizing government brutality, she fled the juntas of the ’70s and began a journey without a destination at the age of 31. 'Exile is a blind river winding from country to country.' The poems are so intensely personal that they remained private for thirty years. 'Rage . . . pain . . . compassion . . . sorrows . . . ' are the stuff of this heartrending but gutsy collection. The sea, ships, maps and birds haunt the pages. Poverty, nostalgia and despair are painted with direct, terse strokes. Even language, a poet’s best friend, now unfamiliar, reinforces the numbing isolation. The dream of returning, testament to a fierce love of country, offers false hope in a world where 'we lose what we win/ and what was won/ is lost in the flight.' Peri’s spirit soars in spite of the crushing anguish. A diary of displacement, loaded with disappearances, the spare works cut as they catalog loss."—Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, The Brooklyn Rail
"Self-exiled in the early ‘70s (in response to a military coup when her work was banned and her life threatened) Uruguayan writer Peri Rossi wrote these poems during her first years in Spain—apparently they were too personally painful for publication when first written. Included are two essays on exile: one by Peri Rossi, the other by translator Buck who is serving an 80-year sentence in California for her militant political activism."—Robert Birnbaum, Book Digest