For Cuban poet Nancy Morejón, writing a poem in English might be considered a fairly simple task. The poet speaks English, Spanish and French, and writes and translates in all three languages.
Wednesday evening was not Morejón’s spoke at the University of Maryland. She first spoke at the university in the early 1980s.
“That was last century,” Morejón said while chuckling. “Take note of that.”
Morejón read several poems to a small audience in Ulrich Recital Hall, first in Spanish then in English. She began with a poem about her mother.
“Virginia Woolf used to say that in every female poet, there is the ghost of her mother,” Morejón said while introducing the poem.
Morejón was born in Havana, but is also of African, European and Chinese descent. A large portion of the evening was dedicated to the discussion of language and culture.
She also read a series of poems about the 1960s and said she saw the period as a time of great progress and change.
“I was a person shaped and elevated during the 1960s,” she said. “We thought the Civil Rights Movement was important for Cuba.”
Besides poetry, Morejón is also known for her ability to translate French and English works into Spanish, and has translated works by authors such as Alice Walker. She has been the recipient of the Critic’s Award and Cuba’s National Prize for Literature, among others.
Morejón will also read her poetry at the Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets in Washington D.C. on Oct. 27.