About the Book

Garden of Exile

Garden of Exile

October 1999
Trade Paperback · 96 Pages
$12.95 U.S. · $15.50 CAN
ISBN 9781889330334
Sarabande Books


Recommended for These Courses


Aleida Rodríguez's first full-length collection of poems, Garden of Exile, was selected by Marilyn Hacker as the 1998 winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry.

Garden of Exile reveals a life enriched by layers of language and culture. Rodr‚guez was born in Cuba and emigrated to the Midwest at age nine via Operation Peter Pan. These poems are psalms that celebrate the pleasures of experience made palpable through language.

Rodríguez counts her bilingual lexicon as a double blessing: "Earth's language is a continuous current,/ translating the voices of my early trees along the ground./ I can't afford not to listen." In her liminal world, the lyricism of Spanish and English mingle their most gorgeous incarnations: sinsontes, ciruelas, mamoncillos, meringue clouds, and the cluck of coconuts "deliver a lost dictionary of delight."

Rodríguez is a remarkably deft poet: not only is she fluent in two tongues, she articulates the delicate nuances of daily life. Whether speaking of water, flora, or women in love, she refuses to produce the poof of easy lyric like a rabbit from a hat. Though they nod to heady pleasures, these poems keep their wits. Rodríguez remains self-possessed, intelligent, and interesting, even in her most impassioned moments. She reveals perception as the self's real alchemy and, by so doing, makes the world appear right before our very eyes.

Garden of Exile is the fifteenth poetry title to be published by Sarabande Books, a nonprofit literary press headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. Since the 1996 debut of the press, Sarabande Books titles have received positive review attention from nationally distinguished media including The New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, American Book Review, Small Press, The Nation, and Library Journal.

Aleida Rodríguez was born on a kitchen table in Havana, Cuba. Her poetry and prose have been published in many literary magazines, textbooks, and anthologies nationwide, including Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Kenyon Review, ZYZZYVA, Southern Poetry Review, and The Progressive, as well as In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction (W.W. Norton, 1996), T