Poetry News

Ricardo Maldonado on the City of San Juan, PR

By Harriet Staff
Ricardo Maldanado

Ricardo Alberto Maldonado is interviewed by Nathalie Handal at Words Without Borders. Important here is the city of San Juan, where Maldonado was born and raised; hidden cities within the city; the nonprofit art studio La Impresora; climate change and its metaphors; and the poet's family. An excerpt:

Is there an iconic literary place we should know?

Last December, Raquel Salas Rivera and I got to meet at La Impresora, a nonprofit art and poetry studio in Santurce run by Nicole Delgado. As a cultural project, La Impresora holds countless free workshops and activities for children, young people, and adults on the island. Nicole’s committed to the field of cultural production on the island and abroad, even after the storm—or in spite of it. I can think of no better definition of “iconic.”

Are there hidden cities within this city that have intrigued or seduced you?

One is tempted to see the capital as representative of the island, but as an alternative, I offer the following report by Primera Hora, a daily newspaper, from September 26, 2017—six days after the storm:

A group of children approached reporters in the municipality of Dorado [just 30 minutes away from San Juan]. “I would like to give you the headline for your newspaper,” said a ten-year-old. “And what would that be?” a reporter asked. “The image of our poverty,” he answered. “[The storm] knocked down trees, killed animals, flooded houses, families disappeared, there is no communication, we were separated for many days [. . .] The power went out for many days.”

Days and months (and months and months) after the storm, I would read it often and everywhere: “En San Juan tienen luz / In San Juan, they got power.” Of course, the very fact of San Juan as capital—one has to think beyond that power, that privilege by virtue of commerce. That is the source of intrigue for me insofar as it is obvious...

Read on at Words Without Borders.


Originally Published: March 15th, 2019