Poet and scholar Gustavo Pérez Firmat was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up in Miami, Florida. He earned a BA from the University of Miami and PhD from the University of Michigan. His collections of poetry include Carolina Cuban
(1989), Bilingual Blues
(1995), and Scar Tissue
(2005). He is the author of the memoir Next Year in Cuba
(1995), and numerous books of literary and cultural criticism: Idle Fictions
(1982), The Cuban Condition
(1989), Life on the Hyphen
(1994; revised 2012), which was awarded the Eugene M. Kayden University Press National Book Award, Tongue Ties
(2003), and The Havana Habit
(2010), among others. Firmat writes criticism and poetry in both Spanish and English, a process he terms “interlingualism.” In a conversation with Bruce Allen Dick, Firmat noted: “What I like best, though, in prose or poetry, is interlingualism, where I can take advantage of the happy accidents that occur when my two languages bump into each other.”
Firmat has received numerous honors and awards for his work including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Mellon Foundation. He has been named a person to watch by both Newsweek
and The Hispanic Business Magazine,
and in 2004 El Diario La Prensa
named him an “outstanding Latino.”
Firmat is currently the David Feinson Professor of Humanities at Columbia University.
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