Boek cover Family Album: An Illustrated Glimpse van Onbekend

Family Album: An Illustrated Glimpse

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Taal Engels
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Living in Nicaragua is a world apart from our typical experience in North America: The sounds alone let you know instantly this place is unique. You wake to birds that do not just twitter, but screech and trill entire multi-stanza songs. There are processions with tubas blasting, dogs always barking somewhere, firecrackers going off for any excuse of a holiday. And of course, everywhere the vegetative excess of the tropics, where vines with huge blue flowers don't just cover a trellis, but instead the entire side of a house.

Pedro Xavier grew up in Nicaragua, surrounded by family and books. His grandfather, Pablo Antonio Cuadra, was a poet and intellectual leader of his time, with books and art in every corner. His mother's house now includes Pedro Xavier's personal library, where he has a desk and pathways through a collection covering several generations of family obsessions with reading. The houses they share are surrounded by gardens, patios with wicker rocking chairs, and, mercifully, fans—it is hot. By midday, the heat shimmers a golden green.

And then there is a presence of water: fountains, two sea coasts, and one of the largest freshwater lakes in the hemisphere, existing in constant contrast to the fierce blaze of the sun. And amidst all this sensual onslaught are people who embrace even the gringa stranger, who seem to live at significant levels of passionate engagement, whether personal or political.

In one sense, these poems are snapshots of a particular life in Nicaragua, perspectives on a person who thinks deeply—about everything! Pedro Xavier has been passionate about putting democracy into action in his county, dedicating many years to that end, with significant disappointments along the way. He is also dedicated to the literary vitality of Nicaragua through his research, his career as an editor, his participation on boards, and of course, his writing This collection of his poems offers a way of reflecting on the family album each of us creates through the daily actions of our lives. - Diane Neuhauser, Translator

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