Poems

Guantanamo, written

Notes

The Cuban poet Oscar Cruz’s poetry is accessible and arresting, but in our workshop we discovered that its apparent simplicity can also sometimes be deceptive.  Many lines caused debate from the title onwards – we toyed with ‘Guantanamo writ large’, ‘Guantanamo in so many words’, ‘Guantanamo summed up’ and numerous other variations before settling on a more literal interpretation (which still feels slightly lacking). It was sobering to hear about Dryboarding, a torture technique in which rags are stuffed down the victim’s throat and their nose taped shut inducing the first stages of death, and the image feeds powerfully into the last line – both in reality and metaphorically the men in this poem die every day.

The Cuban poet Oscar Cruz’s poetry is accessible and arresting, but in our workshop we discovered that its apparent simplicity can also sometimes be deceptive.  Many lines caused debate from the title onwards – we toyed with ‘Guantanamo writ large’, ‘Guantanamo in so many words’, ‘Guantanamo summed up’ and numerous other variations before settling on a more literal interpretation (which still feels slightly lacking). It was sobering to hear about Dryboarding, a torture technique in which rags are stuffed down the victim’s throat and their nose taped shut inducing the first stages of death, and the image feeds powerfully into the last line – both in reality and metaphorically the men in this poem die every day.

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