Translated from the Spanish by Keith Ekiss, Sonia P. Ticas & Mauricio Espinoza.
“Travelers to Costa Rica often depart the capital of San José as soon as they arrive, heading out for the cloud forest of Monteverde, the volcano at Arenal, or the waves at Playa Tamarindo, leaving behind the smell of diesel fumes and the city’s concrete architecture. But if you visit the National Theater, a civic treasure modeled on the Paris Opera, you will find a bronze statue guarding the building, the bust of a woman with a fierce, penetrating gaze, and hair of Medusa—like serpents: the mother of Costa Rican verse and the country’s most significant international literary presence, Nuestra Eunice, as she’s been called, the poet Eunice Odio. Her poetry has thus remained almost wholly unknown to readers outside Latin America, obscured on the margins of the region’s avant-garde and proletarian-poet traditions. A woman poet who lived a secluded life, Odio was born in a country with, at the time, an antipathy to artists and writers, who often relocated to Mexico City if they wanted to establish themselves as contributors to the vanguard. Odio herself was aware of her marginalized, self-exiled position. Octavio Paz once told her that she was “of that line of poets who invent their own mythology, like Blake, like St. John Perse, like Ezra Pound; and they are rubbed out, because no one understands them until years or even centuries after their death.””—Keith Ekiss, from the Introduction