Metals

By Anton Arrufat
Translated by Katherine M. Hedeen

What do you think of the word metal?

Do you like it?

If I say,

the metal of your voice,

do you like it?

Metal sounds,

shimmers, endures.

Gleams in the dirt

of excavations.

“It’s a metal,” says

the Egyptologist’s helper.

A metal in Etruria,

in Uxmal,

in the remote

city of Ur.

A metal,

the metal of your voice.


Antón Arrufat (Santiago de Cuba, 1935) is a poet, playwright, fiction writer, essayist, literary critic and journalist. He published in the literary journal Ciclón, was a writer for the weekly Lunes de Revolución, and was chief editor for the groundbreaking journal Casa de las Américas (1960-1965). He worked as a literary advisor to Cuba’s most important theater company Teatro Estudio and as a writer for the magazine Revolución y Cultura. In 1968, he was accused of being a counterrevolutionary for his play Los siete contra Tebas (1968, UNEAC Prize) and suffered many years of ostracism. He has received Cuba’s National Literature Prize, Cuba’s Prize for National Culture, the Alejo Carpentier Medal, and the Critic’s Prize seven times.

Katherine M. Hedeen is a specialist in Latin American poetry and has both extensively written on and translated contemporary authors from the region. Her book-length translations include published collections by Rodolfo Alonso, Juan Bañuelos, Juan Calzadilla, Marco Antonio Campos, Luis García Montero, Juan Gelman, Fayad Jamís, Hugo Mujica, José Emilio Pacheco, Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, and Ida Vitale. She is an associate editor of Earthwork’s Latin American Poetry in Translation Series for Salt Publishing and an acquisitions editor for Arc Publications. She is the recipient of a 2009 and a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Project Grant. She resides in Ohio where she is Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College.