"These are poems of solid classical diction, keenly aware of the rich traditions that precede it, where mythology, travel and personal memory represent starting points for erotic and metaphysical reflection."
“It’s possible things are not/ as we wished them to be,” José Manuel Cardona writes in Birnam Wood, a superb account of his travels around the world in the service of poetry. Exploring the consequences of the fact that “Only man is capable of destroying/ what he never created/ and he along believes belong to him,” he creates a rival system of belief, which depends upon his vivid imagery, sophisticated ear, and wisdom borne of experience, all of which his daughter, Hélène, a gifted poet in her own right, has gracefully preserved in her translations. This selection of his poems, spanning the length of an illustrious career, are everything we might wish them to be.
—Christopher Merrill author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood
Birnam Wood embodies the self in the world of myth with its attendant themes of tragedy and fate. If the water of exile is longing, the cup brims over in these sun-shattered works of diaspora. Cardona is an essential twentieth-century Spanish poet. His poems journey toward an ever-receding home.
—Marsha de la O author of Antidote for the Night
The lush and mystical poetry of José Manuel Cardona’s Birnam Wood is firmly rooted in the world of classical mythology as a means of articulating what is human and timeless.
—Blas Falconer author of The Foundling Wheel
From the ghostly amphora that languish at sea bottom “like soft fish that escaped/ the potter’s greedy love” to the impulse “to tell how yesterday’s solitude was”, Hélène Cardona’s translations are revelations of language and image, a voice dipped in clear water and wrung through her careful hands.
—Dorianne Laux author of The Book of Me