by Rocío Cerón
translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong
2015 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry
DIORAMA is the recent winner of the 2015 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry, which is awarded by Three Percent at the University of Rochester. It has also been named one of World Literature Today's 75 Most Important Translated Books of 2014.
Diorama is both a book of poems and a performance action by the Mexican poet Rocío Cerón, who guides the reader on a hallucinatory, spiraling journey through image, language, history, and soundscapes. Anna Rosenwong's bold translation replicates the nuanced sonic textures of the original to achieve an English-language poem as groundbreaking and moving as its Spanish counterpart. As unrelentingly tactile as it is unapologetically cerebral, Rocío Cerón’s new book asks that we relinquish control and submit to the poet’s brutal lyricism, and to a new kind of order imposed like a penumbra between us and the waking world.
Rocío Cerón was born in Mexico City in 1972. Her work is experimental, combining poetry with music, performance, and video. Her books of poetry include Basalto (2002), Imperio/Empire (2009, interdisciplinary bilingual edition), Tiento (Germany, 2011), and Diorama (2012). Her poems have been translated into English, Finnish, French, Swedish and German, and she has performed her work at venues in Denmark, England, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United States.
Anna Rosenwong is a translator, poet, editor, and educator. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Irvine. Her book-length publications include José Eugenio Sánchez’s Suite Prelude a/H1N1 (Toad Press) and an original collection of poetry, By Way of Explanation (Dancing Girl Press). She is the translation editor of Drunken Boat. Her literary and scholarly work has recently been featured in World Literature Today, The Kenyon Review, Translation Studies, jacket 2, Pool, and elsewhere.
Cover art by Ashley Macomber
"Cerón’s creation can best be described thus: she summons words. Like iron filings to a magnet, they come into an order that feels inevitable...In this penchant for naming, her exquisite and casual catalogues could pass as still life. But her poetry, technical yet drenched in sensation, scientific yet opulent in the manner of natural history, is propulsive, as she pushes herself, and us, to the far limit of the mind’s ken." —Johnny Payne
"The gift of Rocío Cerón’s Diorama is that of an experimental poetry of great means and power, a work beautifully brought into English by Anna Rosenwong who delivers it to us as it is “without check with original energy.” In the second decade of the new century Rocío Cerón’s work feels to this reader as both the culmination of the century before us and the start of something new and equally vibrant: a performance work at the outset that is here translated on the page as a testimony to the force of poetry when it finds its own form and emerges fresh and new and like its original with no holds barred." —Jerome Rothenberg
"The poetry of Rocío Cerón reaches a high degree of maturity in Diorama. A protean book, a rush withheld, a contemporary spiritual chant in that it not only probes how to reach unity but does so by exploring our historical era’s multiplicity of self-displays. Diorama will remain in the consciousness of its readers." —José Kozer
"Diorama provides its reader with a camera obscura where their view is refracted—reader, view, and camera made miracle of language. This book expects everything of its reader. The pain and celebration of language, this brilliant book unfolds a horizon of freedom in the process of becoming: a certain faith in that margin of humanity." —Julio Ortega
"Diorama lives and disintegrates in each of its listener, in the eyes and ears of its viewers, readers, listeners—a solid and ephemeral cluster that reminds itself once and again that everything is transitory." —Sergio Huidobro
"These poems ask a lot of us, as good poetry does. They demand slow and careful attention, they demand and create their own time and space and language and world and context. It is a world that persists, haunting us long after the book is closed." —Erica Mena, Entropy Magazine
"Rocío Cerón’s Imperio serves as one of those extreme examples of making the poem into a place, a country, where all the dispersed fragments, syllables, and remains of an ineradicably violent hurricane are gathered. It’s a physical, concrete violence, of wars effectively freed on innumerable sets and places, that makes each letter of this book open like a perforation, like a wound." —Raúl Zurita