Fable of an Inconsolable Man
Javier Etchevarren

Translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Poetry. Latino/Latina Studies. Poverty Studies. Urban Studies.
ISBN: 978-0-900-57595-2

Even the most beautiful,
this fracture of love, breaking my spirit, forcing me to joy—
I abandon.

If the abyss before birth had a voice, it would sound like Javier Etchevarren’s brutally earnest poetry. In fable of an inconsolable man, Etchevarren moves the reader painstakingly through a life of abandonment & abandon, alienation & abuse, coupled with strength, imagination, & a joyous love for the power of language. Jesse Lee Kercheval’s intimate translations of Etchevarren’s poetry brings this rapturous fable of pain and discovery to English readers in a book that is sure to be celebrated.

“In Fable of an Inconsolable Man, Uruguayan poet Javier Etchevarren combines clear–eyed realism with a survivor’s imaginative streak to take on the poverty and violence threaded through his own childhood in Montevideo. ‘When one is honest, the world is a miser,’ he writes. And despite his commitment to unblemished toughness, still, there are moments of transformation and grace in here when a mother grows extra arms to save her children, a boy becomes a beloved dead dog, and a child comes to know the world by reading wondrous encyclopedias in the library his mother cleans. Etchevarren’s poems are vibrant psalms of perseverance and grit.”

— Erika Meitner, author of Copia

“In [these] poems, I feel my own struggles toward adulthood and the loneliness of such a road. Reading these emotionally deft and beautiful poems make me feel less alone.”

— Nate Marshall, author of Wild Hundreds


Javier Etchevarren was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1979. He is the author of the poetry books Desidia (Yaugarú, 2009) and Fábula de un hombre desconsolado (Yaugarú, 2014). His poems will appear in América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets, forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. His poems appeared or are forthcoming in Palabras errantes, American Literary Review, Blackbird, Notre Dame Review, Colorado Review, and Waxwing. His work has been featured twice on Poetry Daily.


Jesse Lee Kercheval is a poet, fiction writer and translator, specializing in Uruguayan poetry. Her previous translations include Invisible Bridge/ El puente invisible: Selected Poems of Circe Maia (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015).