Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poetry Foundation-Interview with the great poet Victor Henandez Cruz

Victor Hernandez Cruz: PoetryFoundation.org
(Interview by Francisco Aragon for Poetry Foundation.org)

Victor Hernández Cruz has published nine books, including his most recent collection, this year’s The Mountain in the Sea (Coffee House Press), and currently divides his time between Morocco and Puerto Rico. The following interview touches on the interests most vital to the poet—the history of the Caribbean, stories of migration, and encounters between cultures.

Francisco Aragón: Can you talk about your beginnings in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico?
Victor Hernández Cruz: I was born in this region of the Caribbean around 1949. There was no such thing as a hospital. In many of the rural areas of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo, people were born inside their homes and a curandera—a midwife—would come and deliver you, and that’s how I was born.

How long were you in Aguas Buenas?
I was there about five years. My family took the road of migration, which a lot of Puerto Ricans were doing at the time because of the devastated economic situation.

I went to New York by airplane; it took eight hours in one of these propeller-planes that barely made it. We got there in the middle of winter; to go from a tropical country into this cold region of a northern city was another shock. I remember the smell of the air, this cold air that smelled like . . . cold metals, cold steel. I had been in a world that had a whole different aroma: the smell of tobacco and local vegetation.

What part of New York did you settle in?
We went to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. 

(click here to read the full text of this great interview of the brilliant American poet, Victor Hernandez Cruz on the Poetry Foundation.org website)

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