This poem caused a lot of debate and discomfort, and revealed a gulf between our culture and that of Oscar Cruz. It felt satirical, but it can be very hard to capture tone across languages and there was some uncertainty as to who was the target. Who were ‘The Quiet Ones’? Did ‘little bitches’ signal that this was an anti-feminist poem? In the end we had to ask our literal translator, Serafina Vick, to check with Oscar Cruz who confirmed that it is about the perception that men are ‘guapetones’ (a Latina American idea of male perfection - big and beefy and manly) when really the women are doing whatever they want.
On a slightly different note, we loved the verse about Santiago de Cuba, and spent a lot of time coming up with ‘too hot always’ – just ‘hot always’ sounded a bit too sexy when we were assured the Spanish word was entirely meteorological, and the equivalent of Welsh people making a joke about rain. Boiling, sweaty, clammy, steamy and scorching were all mooted, but we decided ‘too hot’ conveyed the humour and brought less metaphorical baggage.