Press-Republican

Out & About

April 17, 2014

Running with dogs

SUNY prof, students read poetry of leading Ecuadorian poet

PLATTSBURGH — Today, Ana Minga’s words will fly between Spanish and English in a bilingual poetry reading of “Tobacco Dogs/Perros De Tabaco,” translated by Dr. Alexis Levitin and published by The Bitter Oleander Press.

“Students from El Pueblo and students from the Spanish Club will join me in this reading,” said Levitin, a distinguished professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh.

“The idea is they will read in the original Spanish, and I will read the English translations. So, it’s involving students in the process. I have never done that before. I’ve done bilingual readings before but usually with the poet, himself or herself.”

‘VERY DIFFERENT POET’

Minga is an award-winning Ecuadorian poet and a journalist. Her books are “Pandemonium” published by Universidad Central del Ecuador in 2003, “A Espaldas de Dios” (“Behind God’s Back”) published by Letramia in 2006 and “Pajaros Huerfanos” (“Orphaned Birds”) published by Libresa in 2009.

“Minga is a very different poet for American audiences to read because of her extremely unique background,” said Paul B. Roth, poet and publisher/founder of The Bitter Oleander Press in Fayetteville, N.Y. “And because of that background that would be unusual in this country, she writes a very different kind of poetry, a very compelling kind of poetry. She’s pretty much unknown except for publication in a few journals in this country and in Ecuador. She has had books published in Ecuador but this is her first book with Spanish and English on facing pages.”

The story begins in 2006 when Levitin collaborated with colleague and Spanish prof Fernando Iturburu on “Tapestry of the Sun: An Anthology of Ecuadorian Poetry,” published by Coimbra Editions in 2009.

“Fernando is from Ecuador,” Levitin said. “He is very patriotic. He’s a great defender of Guayaquil where he grew up in. He was interested in getting good fine poets of Guayaquil and the rest of the country better known in the world. He asked me to join him as the English-language translator. So we worked together down there. We went down together and we worked in Guayaquil with 18 poets.”

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