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Point of Contact's one-two punch

Third annual poetry volume, then -- what else? -- labyrinths:

Most people know Colleen Kattau as a musician whose guitar and soaring voice have fuelled many a concert and rally, but she also teaches Spanish at SUNY Cortland. In this capacity as bilingual performer she appeared at Point of Contact Gallery two weeks ago to read the English translations of Ana Mar a Fuster Lav n's poems after the visiting Puerto Rican's renditions in the original Spanish at the launch party for "Corresponding Voices."

"Corresponding Voices" is the gallery's third annual invited collection and brings together Fuster, two Urdu-language poets (the late renowned Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Zeeshan Sahil, both of Pakistan), SU Writing Program director Christopher Kennedy, and Latinamericanist Tonia Le n. The anthology's guiding principle, writes editor Pedro Cuperman, is that the poets' works interact with one another in ever-unfolding dialogue.

Point of Contact is the miniscule gallery on East Genesee Street next to Phoebe's with the reliably seam-bursting crowds. Over 400 attended the "Tango" opening there last fall, flowing onto a white-canopied front sidewalk. For Fuster's work, which is both carnally and spiritually steamy, the hundred-plus crowd who jammed Point of Contact -- a few more couldn't get in -- were enthusiastic.

"I got the translations when I got there and only had a chance to scan the first two poems before we started the reading," Kattau recalled, laughing again as she had that night. "It was probably a good thing. People really did understand the poems even if they didn't speak a word of Spanish and she was a hard act to follow."

The Argentine Pedro Cuperman founded Point of Contact as a literary magazine and ever-morphing site of artistic production in 1975 at New York University and brought it with him to Syracuse. He invited Fuster to "Corresponding Voices" after gallery manager/senior editor Tere Paniagua met Fuster on a summer trip home to San Juan, where leading newspaper columnist Ileana Cidoncha has followed Fuster's career and a handful of other young poets for five or six years. The seven poems in "Corresponding Voices" are translated by Libertad Garz n and Cuperman, Fuster's first work appearing in English. Pleased with the work's raucous, buoyant reception -- at Saturday morning coffee with Fuster and Paniagua, Cuperman grinned, "It was like opera!" -- he stressed that Fuster is foremost an accomplished writer.

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