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Uruguayan poet, Silvia Guerra, reads from her book A Sea at Dawn

By Suki Rowden, Part-Time Staff Writer

On Nov. 16, Saint Vincent College hosted a book reading of the translated version of Un Mar en Madrugada, or A Sea at Dawn by Uruguayan poet Silvia Guerra. The reading was hosted through Eulalia Books, a small press that publishes poetry in translation. Guerra is a celebrated poet and a researcher and member of the National Academy of Letters of Uruguay. She began her career in the years after the dismissal of the Uruguayan dictatorship during a time of tumult and transition.

“[Guerra] is considered one of the most innovative and powerful poetic voices from Latin America,” stated Maria Olivera-Williams, a professor of Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

(Pitas) Students pose for a photo with author and poet Silvia Guerra

In 2012, Guerra was awarded the Morosoli prize, Uruguay’s greatest culture, arts, and sciences award, for her work. Guerra’s other works include nine books of poetry, two books of prose, and six books of criticism. Her latest book, A Sea at Dawn, is a book with experimental poetry describing the coastal landscape of her home. Its excerpts were translated from Spanish into English by Jesse Lee Kercheval and Dr. Jeannine Pitas, an English professor at Saint Vincent.

A press release about the reading said, “Silvia Guerra draws many of her images from the Uruguayan coast and countryside, not in a simple, narrative way, but as symbols of the exploration of her own consciousness. Her poems are meditations which play with transformation and transmutation and through all her work runs a hunger for meaning, for a reason to exist. We are delighted to share her diffuse ‘compact structure’ in all its astonishing strangeness, with you.”

(Pitas) Silvia Guerra (right) and her translator, Jesse Lee Kercheval (left).

Pitas further explained, “The book was chosen for publication by Eulalia in 2020 and is now about to come out. [Guerra] was very eager to visit the US, and she gave readings in a few different places. She was delighted to come to Saint Vincent (College).”

Senior English and theology major Elizabeth Elin interns with Eulalia Books, and she said, “I very much enjoyed the reading of A Sea at Dawn! It was a treat to hear some of Silvia Guerra's beautiful poems – though I don't know Spanish – alongside their English translations. I was incredibly fortunate to meet the author and translators before the reading, which made a great experience even better.”


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