An Introduction to... Humberto Gatica
Originally published on everythingbutamisprint.tumblr.com in December 2010.
Hafan Books, the Swansea-based publisher who donate all proceeds to the city's Asylum Seekers Support Group, are building quite a reputation outside of philanthropy for their beautiful A4-sized collections of short-fiction, drama and poetry. Each collection, the most recent of which being two one-act plays by Wales' renowned concrete poet Childe Roland (real name Peter Meilleur), is accompanied by a set of photographs included to compliment the text, reflecting back upon it without ever simply attempting to literally illustrate the work of the writer.
In 2008, Hafan published the first poetry collection of Humberto Gatica, a Chilean exile who arrived in Swansea shortly after the 1973 military coup. The poems, included in The Sand Garden / El Jardin de Arena in both Spanish and English, deal with the enforced exile of Gatica and his family and the subsequent struggle to adapt to life in a foreign country. Fittingly, whereas Hafan's other marriages of literature and visual art are often collaborative, The Sand Garden is instead the sole work of Gatica, with the poems accompanied on the page by the poet's black and white photographs of exile in Swansea.