HANDMADE CUBAN BOOKS

quote1b“Now it is autumn here and apples are everywhere. But I long for mangos…”

When Ruth went back to Cuba as an adult, she traced the steps she’d taken as a child. She wandered through the park where she once played under thick-rooted banyan trees and she slipped in and out of apartments in Havana, near the port and the sea, where her family had lived. The experience was very emotional. She longed to lift her voice. She wrote a handful of poems in English and soon after had the good fortune to meet Rolando Estévez, a poet himself, as well as an artist and a maker of beautiful handmade books. He told her he wanted to read her poems, but she would have to translate them into Spanish.

That was how Ruth began to write in both English and Spanish, sometimes starting in one language or the other, depending on the words that came to her first. Estévez read her poems and encouraged her writing by creating stunning handmade books in which to house them. Ruth has come to believe that all a poet needs is one friend in the world to find the faith to keep writing. Such a friend came into her life when she met Rolando Estévez in Cuba.

Scroll through the pages to see the beautiful books that Estévez designed while serving as the artistic director of Ediciones Vigía, an independent publishing collective in Matanzas that he helped found, and you can also see the new books he is now producing at his own imprint, El Fortín.

To learn more about Rolando Estévez’s work, please visit: Intersections: Cultures, Identities, Narratives.

To learn more about Ruth’s work, please visit her academic site.