Candidates for Sainthood and other Sinners – Don Cellini

Candidates for Sainthood and other Sinners – Don Cellini

Candidates for Sainthood by Don Cellini
Poetry. Paper, Perfect Bound. 62 pages
2013, ISBN: 978-1-936419-29-6 $14.95

This collection of poems explores the thin line between saint and sinner. The poet asks the reader to consider, “Who is the saint here? Who is the sinner?” A few well-known people appear in poems as well as a few genuine saints, but mostly the poems explore the saints and sinners and everyday folks that we meet each day on the sidewalk, at work, the mall or on TV.

The author collaborated with Mexican poet Fernando de la Cruz in recasting the poems in Spanish. With Cellini’s originals in English and in Spanish, de la Cruz created a third version. Sometimes these are faithful translations, but often they soar off the page and take on an identity of their own.

The poems are lean but, with a few pen strokes, Cellini creates sketches which suggest more than he writes. Impressions. Moments in time. Bits of humor. And de la Cruz has captured these same images in exquisite Spanish originals. The work as a whole, then, is a collaboration which will please readers of English, readers of Spanish, and bilingual readers will have a double delight.

Praise for Don Cellini’s work:
In Candidates for Sainthood and Other Sinners, Don Cellini cuts a spare and stunning path through a wilderness of sorrow; thus he allows us to follow him, witnessing what it means to be human in troubled times: we see Saint Peter in the moment he feels transformation is impossible. A Haitian woman forced to feed her children cakes made of earth. Matthew Shepherd at the moment of his death. These poems thus do far more than deliver us a serving of incredible and piercing beauty. They demand justice for poverty, violence, hunger, and spiritual bankruptcy. But they also hold up small justices and moments of faith and human connection, as if Cellini, a candidate himself, is saying: here, my gift to you. With startling clarity, Don Cellini sings—and sometimes whispers in a way that haunts the ear—an affirmation of the often hidden best efforts of people to remain human—that is, to act humanely, with compassion for others in the face of our own vulnerability and despite the pains and satisfactions, big and small, of being one human being on a small planet. In doing so, he offers himself as a guide and beauty and hope as twin salves to ease our way.
– Josie Sigler, author of The Galaxie and Other Rides

We find ourselves with a book of poems that, in its two versions (English and Spanish), disturbs the soul with its luminosity, with the capacity that Don Cellini has to paint for his reader atmospheres, instances, moments that bring us amazement and contemplation, not to mention humor.

He reinterprets stories and characters, but also creates new fictions, each unique, all of them surprising, knowing how to give them the perfect turn, the twist that traps the reader and introduces us to a world created by the poet.

It’s admirable that all of this fits in such brief poems which captivate the reader in two-poem groups. And in that careful conciseness, like the poem which invokes “the hush / after truth” (“En medio del silencio / después de la verdad“), nothing is extra, nothing is missing and the poetic enchantment is complete.

The spell is carried over in Spanish through the extraordinary versions by Fernando de la Cruz Herrera. These capture all the feeling, all the astonishment, all the humor and clarity of these beautiful poems by Don Cellini

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Nos encontramos con un poemario que, en sus dos versiones (inglés y español), nos trastoca el alma con su luminosidad, con esa capacidad que tiene Don Cellini de pintar para el lector atmósferas, instantes, momentos que nos llevan a la sorpresa y la contemplación, no exentos de humor.

Reinterpreta historias, personajes y crea también nuevas ficciones, todas singulares, todas asombrosas, sabiendo darles la vuelta perfecta, el giro que atrapa al lector y lo introduce en el mundo creado por el poeta.

Es admirable que en la brevedad de los poemas quepa todo eso, se abisme al lector a través de grupos de dos versos. Y en esa concisión tan cuidada, al igual que los poemas de ese poeta al que invoca en “In the hush / after truth” (“En medio del silencio / después de la verdad”), nada sobra, nada falta y el ensalmo poético está completo.

Ensalmo que se traslada al castellano de una manera extraordinaria en las versiones de Fernando de la Cruz Herrera, que trasladan todo el sentimiento, todo el asombro, todo el humor y la claridad de estos bellos poemas de Don Cellini.

– Roxana Elvridge-Thomas autora, Pequeño bestiario ígneo

The Latino Poetry Review/Letras Latinas blog from Notre Dame counts Don among Allies of Latino Letters

“Candidates…” reviewed at Stone Path Review

“Candidates…” reviewed at The Michigan Poet

Haitian Mothers use their handsHay madres en Haití que usan las manos
Haitian mothers
use their hands

to scoop dry earth
into buckets,

add salt and lard
and knead this dough.

When thoroughly
mixed, they shape

cookies and bake them
in the sun.

Where are the
guardian angels

to prevent this:
They feed these

sun-baked cookies
to their children

because they have
no food to offer.

Give us this day
our daily bread

in any denomination
of god.
Hay madres en Haití
que usan las manos

para llenar cubos
de tierra,

echar sal y manteca,

luego tortear galletas
y tostarlas al sol.

¿En dónde quedó el ángel
de la guarda

de todos esos niños
que son alimentados

con galletas
de tierra

al no haber más comida
que ofrecerles?

¿Dónde están que no pueden

Danos hoy
nuestro pan de cada día

en el nombre
no me importa de cuál dios.

About the Authors
Don Cellini is a poet, translator and photographer. He is the author of Approximations / Aproximaciones (2005) and Inkblots (2008) both collections of bilingual poems published by March Street Press. His book of prose poems, Translate into English was released in 2010 by Mayapple Press. His book of translations, Elías Nandino: Selected Poems (2010 McFarland Publishers) is the first book-length translation of the Mexican poet. Imagenes para una anunciación / Images for an annunciation, his translation of the work of Mexican poet Roxana Elvridge-Thomas, was published in 2012 by FootHills Publishing. He is a recipient of fellowships from the King Juan Carlos Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is professor emeritus at Adrian College in Michigan. His website is: www.doncellini.com

Fer de la Cruz Herrera, is from Mérida, Yucatán, México. He holds a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Spanish from Ohio University. As an independent editor, writer, and cultural promoter, he has participated in cultural festivals, conferences, and book fairs in Mexico, Cuba, France, and the United States. His books include: Redentora la voz (Ayuntamiento de Mérida, 2010), Aliteletras. De la a a la que quieras (Dante, 2011), Sabotaje a la che y otros poemas de martitologio (2012, Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán) and the chapbook Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies (JKPublishing, 2008). He has received two national, one regional, and one state-wide poetry awards in Mexico. He can be contacted at: delacrux@hotmail.com

Don Cellini es poeta, traductor y fotógrafo. Es autor de los poemarios Aproximaciones / Approximations (2005) e Inkbolts (2008), en edición bilingüe de March Street Press. Su colección de poemas en prosa Translate into English vio luz en 2010 bajo el sello de Mayapple Press. Su traducción Elías Nandino: Selected Poems (2010 McFarland Publishers), es la primera colección extensa que llega a lectores anglófonos de los poemas del maestro mexicano. Tradujo a la también mexicana Roxana Elvridge-Thomas, cuyo libro Imágenes para una anunciación / Images for an annunciation se publicó bajo el sello de FootHills Publishing. Ha sido becario de la Fundación Rey Juan Carlos y de la National Endowment for the Humanities. Es profesor emérito en Adrian College, en Michigan, EE.UU. Su sitio web: www.doncellini.com

Fer de la Cruz Herrera (Mérida, Yucatán, México) es licenciado en Humanidades y Filosofía. Su obra poética aparece en diversas antologías y revistas de literatura. En el 2004 fue galardonado con sendos primeros lugares, respectivamente, en el los III Juegos Literarios Nacionales Universitarios (Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán) y en los XL Juegos Florales de la Revolución Mexicana (Jiquilpan, Michoacán). Entre sus publicaciones figuran: Redentora la voz (Ayuntamiento de Mérida, 2010), Aliteletras. De la a a la que quieras (Dante, 2011), Sabotaje a la che y otros poemas de martitologio (2012, Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán) y el poemario Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies (JKPublishing, 2008). Correo de contacto: delacrux@hotmail.com