Amalialú Posso Figueroa — “Attraction, Intimacy, Infirmity: A Portfolio of Poetry” — translated by Jeffrey Diteman


The original versions of these two poems were included in the book Mido mi cuarta y me paro en ella, published as part of the series Biblioteca de Escritoras Colombianas in 2022. The poems reflect several of the main themes found in Posso Figueroa’s prose writing: attraction, intimacy, infirmity, longing, and home. The piece “Or Rather” conveys the struggle to articulate the contradictory impulses of lust, juxtaposing imagery of death and germination, rain and heat, aggression and tenderness. The poem “Miguelina Cuesta” is a distillation of imagery from a short story of the same name, one of the 25 stories found in Vean vé, mis nanas negras. The borojó fruit is used in the Pacific Coast region of Colombia to make desserts, jams, wines, and medicinal preparations; it is reputed to have aphrodisiac effects.


Amalialú Posso Figueroa was born in 1947 in Quibdó, the capital of Chocó, Colombia. Her first book, Vean vé, mis nanas negras, has been published in ten editions since its release in 2001, and she has presented stories from her Cuentos eróticos del Pacífico colombiano on stages around the world. Her writing has been lauded in Colombia for its vibrant depictions of women of African descent, their distinctive local culture, and the Chocoano dialect. She received the Nelson Mandela Prize from the Fundación Cultural Nelson Mandela in 2015, the Guachupé de Oro Prize from the Fundación Cultural Colombia Negra in 2017, the Orden de la Democracía Simón Bolívar from the Colombian national congress in 2009, and the Vida y Obra award from the government of Chocó in 2007.

Jeffrey Diteman is a literary scholar and translator working in French, Spanish, and English. His translation of The Anarchist Who Shared My Name by Pablo Martín Sánchez was published in 2018 by Deep Vellum. He is currently translating the writing of Colombian author Amalialú Posso Figueroa and collaborating with the poet Shanta Lee to translate Vean vé, mis nanas negras. The first translated story from the collection, “Fidelia Córdoba,” has been published in The Massachusetts Review and Harper’s Magazine. They are currently seeking a publisher for the full collection.