In her lifetime, Orides Fontela resisted all labels, all attempts to situate her work in a particular movement, school, tendency, or tradition. Here, in the first ever English language collection, Fontela’s poems continue to defy easy categorization. In these concise, meditative poems, Fontela’s bird and flower, water and stone, blood and star can be read as symbols, indicating a possible tendency toward mysticism, but also represent themselves, concrete entities and objects, instances of the immensely variegated matter that exists throughout the universe. Including an illuminating statement of poetics and excerpts from her often acerbic interviews, One Impossible Step introduces English-language audiences to an iconoclast who remains one across languages and decades.
“At the heart of her search through and for the solid forms, she reaches a place where the act of seeing both faces itself and yearns for the thing beyond. She is a kind of symbolist poet. Her linguistic universe has little adornment, yet it is one of deep feeling.”—Brenda Hillman, Boston Review
"It is a wonder and a blessing to have Orides Fontela in English, so readers can experience her titrations of flux and water in beautiful flourishing petals of words. Her poems are philosophical investigations across the borders of line and syllable. An Orides Fontela poem makes words touch their edges, and from these edges the words simultaneously touch the reader’s skin, as heart-being and skein of thought. The human emerges in her poems not from personal reference, but from verbal indices as compressed and as vital as air: we can breathe. Her odes and elegies, poemites and sonnets listen intensely to silence as well: silence as form and forms as silence, syllables as silence. Orides Fontela writes the impossible that exists and is all that exists. Chris Daniels, in these breathtaking translations, makes it so."—Erín Moure
"This engrossing selection of poetry by Orides Fontela offers English-speaking readers the opportunity to enter into the sumptuous, obsessive intensities of her work. Seeking always a form or finality, Fontela wrestles with poetic inquiry where inquiry itself alters — transposes — its subject. Chris Daniels adeptly responds to the challenge of translating Fontela, offering formal shaping that embraces her eccentricities while always remaining sensitive to the alternately knotty and limpid urgencies of her poems. In their determined plumbing of meaning, this poetry refines and redefines a dynamic reality. Fontela seeks 'the real' at any cost, no matter how difficult."—Elizabeth Robinson