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Pablo Medina

Pablo Medina was born in Havana, Cuba, and moved to New York City with his family at the age of twelve. He received a BA and an MA from Georgetown University.

Medina is the author of several poetry collections, including Soledades (Editorial Betania, 2017), The Island Kingdom (Hanging Loose Press, 2015), The Man Who Wrote on Water (Hanging Loose Press, 2011), Points of Balance/Puntos de apoyo (Four Way Books, 2005), The Floating Island (White Pine Press, 1999), and Arching into the Afterlife (Bilingual Review Press, 1991). With Carlos Ordonez, he published the photography and poetry book Calle Habana (PhotoStroud) in 2013.

He is also the author of the memoir Exiled Memories: A Cuban Childhood (University of Texas Press, 1990) and several novels, including The Cuban Comedy (Unnamed Press, 2019), and Cubop City Blues (Grove/Atlantic, 2012). Also known for his work in translation, Medina translated The Weight of the Island: Selected Poems of Virgilio Piñera (Diálogos, 2014) and Federico García Lorca’s Poet in New York (Grove/Atlantic, 2008) with poet Mark Statman.

Medina is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, among numerous other honors and awards. Medina served on the board of directors for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs from 2002 to 2007 and as president from 2005 to 2006. He is currently on faculty at the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and lives in Williamsville, Vermont.

Selected Bibliography

Soledades (Editorial Betania, 2017)
The Island Kingdom (Hanging Loose Press, 2015)
The Man Who Wrote on Water (Hanging Loose Press, 2011)
Points of Balance/Puntos de apoyo (Four Way Books, 2005)
The Floating Island (White Pine Press, 1999)
Arching into the Afterlife (Bilingual Review Press, 1991)

The Cuban Comedy (Unnamed Press, 2019)
Cubop City Blues (Grove/Atlantic, 2012)
The Cigar Roller (Grove/Atlantic, 2005)
The Return of Felix Nogara (Persea Books, 2000)
The Marks of Birth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994)
Exiled Memories: A Cuban Childhood (University of Texas Press, 1990)

By This Poet


Cityscape 1

Let the aroma of need
waft across the river to New Jersey:

all the snow and hills,
a sky that moves and moves.

I saw a rose in the clouds,
I saw happiness on fire.

At the Blue Note

for Karen Bentivenga
Sometimes in the heat of the snow
you want to cry out

for pleasure or pain like a bell.
And you wind up holding each other,

listening to the in-between 
despite the abyss at the edge of the table. 

Hell. Mulgrew Miller plays like a big 
bad spider, hands on fire, the piano

trembling like crystal,
the taste and smell of a forest under water.

The bartender made us a drink
with butterfly wings and electric wire. 

Bitter cold outside, big silence, 
a whale growing inside us.

In Defense of Melancholy

At least once a week
I walk into the city of bricks
where the rubies grow

and the killers await
the coming of doves and cats.

I pass by the homes of butchers
and their knives sharpened by insomnia

to the river of black sails
and the torn-up sea and the teeth of dogs.

She waits for me in a narrow bed,
watching the rain
that gathers on the broken street

and the weak light of dusk
and the singing trees.