In 2002, while temporarily living in Europe (mostly Amsterdam), the poet Omar Pérez began writing in a notebook. His journey began as a short professional visit that shifted into something less defined after he fell in love….
In 2002, while temporarily living in Europe (mostly Amsterdam), the poet Omar Pérez began writing in a notebook. His journey began as a short professional visit that shifted into something less defined after he fell in love. Eventually the notebook became Cubanology, a book of days reflecting on three years of life at a remove from the island: “A memory of a flight, a journey, jour.” Along with registering common and uncommon vicissitudes of everyday life, the result presents a fusion of languages. Simultaneously national and polycultural, Cubanology streams poetic thought and experience, excerpts from other writings in progress, and the coalescence of a new islandic consciousness – scenes reminiscent of many-minded Odysseus, if home were heart. Visual material appearing throughout Cubanology blends Pérez’s sketches with photographs from that period, as well as art he made after returning to his family home on Havana’s iconic Malécon.
“Welcoming as the guenmai soup whose making recurs throughout this journal, Cubanology carries the flavors of zen intensives, languages, and housecleaning; Greek retsina and Dutch beer; murmured conversations with books, friends, strangers, cultures, countries, and conditions. Omar Pérez is equally home-leaver and home-maker wherever he travels. Language is his pillow; zazen his backpack; music and imagination’s freedoms his left and right shoes.”
”I’m quite taken by Cubanology, a book of the quotidian that rises to the universal. In morning we have zazen, in the afternoon we have language(s) and poetry, then later there is guenmai for 70 people (recipe included: carrots, onions, turnips, celery) but usually just for three or four or one. Are we in Amsterdam, or Athens, Munich? Yes. It is Cubanology, after all, and “He proposied realviciousization,/seated at the deskritorio” is the way poems are written when you are Omar Pérez. Part Pound, part Bolaño, add a Brechtian play, mix in some Hart Crane, spiced with Marianne Moore, Larry Eigner and Paul Hoover (Paul Hoover!), this is a global 24 hours that stretches time to eternity, consolidates place, and with a polyglot sensibility that seems bent on unifying all languages. Reading Cubanology is more like meditating than reading. Which is to say the ritual of the day. Which stays with you, and is tomorrow, the eternal day.”
“Omar Pérez’s Cubanology is a Book of Days for the new century, a clear-eyed account of his travels in Europe, in the form of journal entries, essays, poems, translations, and meditations dating from 2002-2005. “To one seeking the truth,” he writes, “I offer only this: don’t waste any time.” Hence he schools his readers in the art of making and measuring time according to the precepts of his Buddhist faith, the practice of which provides the scaffolding for this fascinating journey, which suggests that even if, as he writes, “travel intoxicates,” it also reveals the heart and soul of one of the most important artists of our time.”
—Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood