Juan Carlos Flores

JCFlores video still KDykstra 2010Juan Carlos Flores was born in Havana in 1962. For decades he has lived nearby in Alamar, a housing community rapidly constructed on the city’s east side starting in the 1970s. Flores never completed college and does not hold a job in the culture or educational sectors, yet he is widely recognized as one of the island’s most important contemporary poets. He draws from influences in popular music and the visual arts as well as intense readings in Cuban and international poetry. Flores is a foundational figure in the performance cultures that emerged in recent decades in the public housing community of Alamar. In 1990 Flores won the David Prize—a national award for emerging writers—for his first book of poems, Los pájaros escritos. His collection Distintos Modos de Cavar un Túnel, the opening of a trilogy dedicated to “the poetical resurrection of Alamar,” won the prestigious 2002 Julián del Casals prize, awarded by Cuba’s national union of artists and writers. The poems here are taken from his third book, which is the second entry in his Alamar trilogy:  El contragolpe (y otros poemas horizontales) [The Counterpunch (And Other Horizontal Poems)] (Letras Cubanas, 2009).