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Out of Violence into Poetry
Out of Violence into Poetry

Out of Violence into Poetry

Poems 2018–2021



134 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $22.00)

Publication Date: September 2021

ISBN 9781609406196

Rights: WOR

Wings Press (Sep 2021)


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Margaret Randall's most recent collection of poems, Out of Violence Into Poetry, was written over these past few years when language itself was violated by a president who lied until each lie, repeated often enough, resembled a terrible truth in the public discourse. Reality, sanity, beauty: all bend and run the risk of breaking when distorted beyond recognition. These poems consciously restore language to its natural habitat. They deal with history, memory, loss, life, death and promise. They address love and aging. They become a welcome refuge at a time of uncertainty and take us on disparate journeys that often have surprising twists. There is humor as well as rage. We cannot leave it to the politicians alone to give words their meaning back. That is the job of poets, and this book does that job well. Randall is the author of nearly 200 books, spanning more than six decades. Out of Violence into Poetry may well be her finest collection of poetry to date.


"Out of Violence into Poetry by Margaret Randall represents the height of poetry written in any language in the last hundred years and constitutes the broadest, most generous, penetrating and most profound gamble on the part of an extraordinary human being, an extraordinary life and work, on that which we call future. This book—concrete, situated, tangible in its truth and commitment, in its fierce and corrosive irony and public kindness and compassion—creates a fresco that is at once compendium and legacy. This is true from the first poem, 'Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman,' to the last line of the poem that ends the collection, 'Promising Trouble When I'm Gone.' Here are the most penetrating and powerful metaphors that a book of poetry can give us in the unending, second-to-second struggle that millions of people across the face of the earth wage in order to become fully human and continue to be so. Only a great poet, a poet of Margaret Randall's magnitude, could title her book Out of Violence into Poetry and include in it one of the most moving poems I have had the privilege of reading: 'I Celebrate.' No one who reads or writes will be able to diminish this poetic triumph. As with all great works, no one could have imagined something like it could have been written. And yet it was. Thank you, Margaret Randall." —Raul Zurita, Chile's National Literature Prize (2000) and the Pablo Neruda Award (1988)  

"Ever courageous, in these poems de memoria, Margaret Randall faces this hour of plague looking back at catastrophes that ravaged Mexico, Cuba and Central America in her younger days. She upholds the 'mystery that catches light…but something is lost, fashioned of blood and memory.' As witness, writer, mother and revolutionary, she marshals a confidence: 'I never doubted / I would do it all.' Yet in nightmares she is endlessly looking for a passport before a flight to Cuba. In spite of the closing door of her time, she sees 'a future gripped by the music of wings.' She is undeterred at 84. A tribute she writes for a friend—that death 'doesn't close a door, your name / remains a fierce marker' —describes her own valor and integrity." —Renny Golden, author of The Music of Her Rivers  

"These poems are like a shield. As one reads them, they become a gentle sailboat plowing the Southern seas as a few fish, algae, moons and stones leap around it—thrown against its timeless journey—its primary nourishment. The sun beyond. An itinerant beating heart, out of violence into poetry." —Nancy Morejón, National Literature Prize, Cuba 2001  

"Reading Margaret Randall's new book, Out of Violence into Poetry, affirmed not only my intellectual understanding of it but it was also a deeply emotional experience for me. The literary dynamic of being human is complex, intense, extensive—and seemingly limitless—and at times the human soul-spirit may feel overly challenged. Human expression is as vast as human experience and, in this book not every word, feeling, focus, view is acceptable to all, but that is poetry. I highly recommend reading Randall's poetry." —Simon J. Ortiz, Acoma poet-writer, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas

Author Biography

Margaret Randall is a feminist poet, writer, translator, photographer and social activist. She is the author of over 150 books. She is the recipient of the 2019 Hayde´e Santamari´a Medal from Casa de las Americas in Havana, and the prestigious 2019 Poet of Two Hemispheres Prize, presented by Ecuador’s Poesi´a en Paralelo Cero. In 2017, she was awarded the Medal of Literary Merit by Literatura en el Bravo, Chihuahua, Mexico. The University of New Mexico granted her an honorary doctorate in letters in 2019. In 2020 she was given the George Garrett Award by AWP and the Paulo Freire Prize by Chapman University. Born in New York City in 1936, she has lived for extended periods in Albuquerque, New York, Seville, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua. Shorter stays in Peru and North Vietnam were also formative. In the 1960s, with Sergio Mondrago´n she founded and co-edited El Corno Emplumado / The Plumed Horn, a bilingual literary journal which for eight years published some of the most dynamic and meaningful writing of an era. Robert Cohen took over when Mondrago´n left the publication in 1968. From 1984 through 1994 she taught at a number of U.S. universities, most often Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Randall was privileged to live among New York’s abstract expressionists in the 1950s and early ’60s, participate in the Mexican student movement of 1968, share important years of the Cuban revolution (1969-1980), the first three years of Nicaragua’s Sandinista project (1980-1984), and visit North Vietnam during the heroic last months of the U.S. American war in that country (1974). Her four children—Gregory, Sarah, Ximena and Ana— have given her ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She has lived with her life companion, the painter and teacher Barbara Byers, for the past 34 years. When marriage equality was legalized in 2013, they were able to wed.Upon Randall’s return to the United States from Nicaragua in 1984, she was ordered to be deported when the government invoked the 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act, judging opinions expressed in some of her books to be “against the good order and happiness of the United States.” The Center for Constitutional Rights defended Randall, and many writers and others joined in an almost five-year battle for reinstatement of citizenship. She won her case in 1989. In 1990 Randall was awarded the Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett grant for writers victimized by political repression. In 2004 she was the first recipient of PEN New Mexico’s Dorothy Doyle Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing and Human Rights Activism. Recent non-fiction books by Randall include To Change the World: My Life in Cuba (Rutgers University Press), More Than Things (University of Nebraska Press), Che On My Mind, and Hayde´e Santamari´a, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led by Transgression (both from Duke University Press). Her most recent nonfiction works are Only the Road / Solo el Camino: Eight Decades of Cuban Poetry (Duke University Press, 2016) and Exporting Revolution: Cuba’s Global Solidarity (Duke University Press, 2017). Randall’s most recent collections of poetry and photographs are Their Backs to the Sea (2009), My Town: A Memoir of Albuquerque, New Mexico (2010), As If the Empty Chair: Poems for the Disappeared / Como si la silla vaci´a: poemas para los desaparecidos (2011), Where Do We Go from Here? (2012), Daughter of Lady Jaguar Shark (2013), The Rhizome as a Field of Broken Bones (2013), About Little Charlie Lindbergh and other Poems (2014), Beneath a Trespass of Sorrow (2014), Bodies / Shields (2015), She Becomes Time (2016), The Morning After: Poetry and Prose in a Post-Truth World (2017), Against Atrocity (2019), and Starfish on a Beach: The Pandemic Poems (2020) all published by Wings Press. Time’s Language: Selected Poems (1959-2018) was published by Wings Press in 2018. For more information about the author, visit her website at