Photographers Unknown, Asleep You Become a Continent
asleep you become a continent—
undiscovered, mysterious, long,
your legs mountain ranges
encircling valleys, ravines
night slips past your eyelids,
your breath the swaying of the sea,
sprawled across the bed like
a dolphin washed ashore, your mouth
is the mouth of a sated volcano,
O fragrant timber, how do you burn?
you are so near, and yet so far
as you doze like a lily at my side,
I undo myself and invoke the moon—
I’m a dog watching over your sleep
Francisco Aragón, Asleep You Become a Continent (Francisco X. Alarcón), Glow of Our Sweat, 2010
Born in San Francisco in 1968, Francisco Aragón is an American poet, essayist, translator and editor. The son of Nicaraguan immigrants who settled in the United States in the 1950s, he earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Arts in Spanish at New York University. Upon his return to the United States.in 1998 after a decade in Spain, Aragón completed his graduate degrees in Creative Writing from the University of California at Davis and the University of Notre Dame.
At the University of Notre Dame in 2003, Aragón became the director of Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute of Latino Studies and a founding member of the Poetry Coalition. A winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize, he served on the board of directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs from 2008 to 2012. Aragón is the founding editor and director for the Momotombo Press, established in 2004. Named after the volcano in Nicaragua, the press publishes and promotes new works in Latino literature in the chapbook format.
Francisco Aragón’s poetry places his personal experiences within the wider historical and cultural conventions of society. His writing process is often stimulated by sensory experiences that bring forth memories long forgotten. Aragón’s poetry has appeared in over twenty anthologies and a range of literary journals. In 2010 he was awarded with an Outstanding Latino Cultural Arts and Publication Award by the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education.
Aragón is the author of three books of poetry, the most recent being the 2020 “After Rubén”, which explores Latinx and queer identity through homage to the great Nicaraguan poet Rubén Dario. Throughout the text, Aragón intersperses English language translations with riffs from Dario’s poetry. His previous collections include his 2005 debut volume, “Puerta del Sol”, and “The Glow of Our Sweat”, published in 2010.
Francisco Aragón is the author of three previous chapbooks of poetry: “Tertulia”, “In Praise of Cities”, and “Light Yogurt, Strawberry Milk”. His most recent chapbook is the 2019 “His Tongue a Swath of Sky”, printed in an edition of only two-hundred copies. In this work, Aragón amends the historical record by turning figures of modernista pastoral into an idealization of queer desire. All proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to Letras Latinas.
Aragón is the editor of the award-winning 2007 anthology “The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry”. His work as a translator includes four books by Francisco X. Alarcón, as well as work by Spanish poets Federico García Lorca and Gerardo Diego. More recently, Aragón has been rendering versions of the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío.
Note: Several interviews with Francisco Aragón on his translation work, and the current state of Latino poetry, as well as readings from “Puerta del Sol” can be found at: http://www.franciscoaragon.net/interviews.html