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ISBN: 978-1-955239-25-7
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Categories Nomadic, Poetry

Before the Dark Comes

Publication Date: March 2022


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Before the Dark Comes was originally published by Nomadic.

Arturo Mantecón, translator and bibliophile, chances upon a strange leather-bound book found in a vast private library. Chaotic poetry. Grotesque images. But who, exactly, is the author? Is it José Primitivo Charlevoix, or someone else? Mantecón searches for clues within the curious text itself, and the clues he finds lead him to the unlikely locations of Quebec and Ontario.


In this voyage of “shut” eyes and the “fantastic”, in these elongated tunnels and fissures, moans and quests, lives clash and bleed, battle, create, rebel, destroy. Dante in his descent, Dalí with bejeweled brushes, Pessoa in many masks, Dogen in his wisdom tincture, burners of illusion, here Mantecón rages, kneels and rises. A rare voice, a rare poetics these days—open the inscape, explode the outscape. Meet Mantecón head on. Muy bravo!
Juan Felipe Herrera, poet, performer, activist, and 21st United States Poet Laureate

These poems are wonderful. This is powerful stuff. Intense, inventive, erudite. The poems have the reach of passion, the scope and fire of myth, the dark sounds of duende and the red sounds of love. The images are at times fantastical—“a voice of crashing iron and gunpowder”—and at others vivid and visceral as life itself: “i am about to tell / fortune and misfortune / in the radicals of your hair / the salty poisons of your liver.” Each time I read one I go back and read it again. There’s so much going on. So many allusions, so many fusions. I wouldn’t call it a neo-surrealism but a hyper-realism: “the great frantic / murmur of a thousand /whispering animals.”
John Olson, American poet and novelist, author of Dada Budapest

Arturo Mantecón has translated some of the most complex Spanish-language poets, which is to say, he has spent years imitating the inimitable, wearing the language of masters, sharpening his instincts for literary play and deception. José Primitivo Charlevoix’s Before the Dark Comes, like the work of every great heteronym, represents the author’s quest to know the furthest reaches of himself.
Maceo Montoya, educator, artist, author of Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces

Before the Dark Comes is a feast of pan-color, kneadable language—love dissected into guttural atoms of the extreme, a private, visceral truth utterly stripped of the trite gaudiness of confessional poetry. José Primitivo Charlevoix, the enigmatic Salvador Dalí of words—I would nail each of these poems onto a wall, yet neither above my bed or in my living-room, not even in a picture gallery—each of the pieces is as huge in its impact as a mural.
Svetlana Lavochkina, Ukrainian-born novelist, poet, and translator

These poems are in search of an author. Sometimes they ascribe a certain identity to themselves; other times they disclose their adherence to something that can only be found beyond our ability to perceive, something that sends a chill down the reader’s spine: “all of my bones / whistle to the hungering wind.” At times, they display surreal, dreamy qualities: “the man stands upon a milking stool,” or “hammurabi came to me / with the morning star / in the skittering light / of the sinning moon.” Under one cover, they appear as a formidable body of work that any lover of intuitive poetry should have on his book-shelf.
Anatoly Kudryavitsky, Russian-Irish novelist, poet, editor, and literary translator

About the Author

Arturo Mantecón

Arturo Mantecón is a poet and literary translator whose poems have appeared in various reviews and anthologies. His books of translation include three volumes of the collected works of Leopoldo María Panero and selected works by Francisco Ferrer Lerín (for which he won the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles award in 2017) and Mario Santiago Papasquiaro. Before the Night Comes; a collection of poems by one of his heteronyms, José Primitivo Charlevoix, was published by Nomadic Press in March of this year. Also published this past March was Mantecón’s code-switching hybrid work of poetry and prose, El Día Más Delicioso de mi Vida. His Arthurian romance, The White Pig, The Black Cat, and the Giant of Mont Saint Michel is due out by October of this year from Whiskey Tit Press. He is currently at work on a novel with the provisional title, Thrake and the Ominous Chimney and a series of absurd vignettes, The Man With Far Too Many Qualities.

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