Taking its title from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Leslie Sainz’s Have You Been Long Enough at Table explores the personal and historical tragedies of the Cuban American experience through a distinctly feminine lens. Formally diverse—including prose poems, American sonnets, and persona poems—with echoes of Spanish throughout, this debut collection critiques power and patriarchy as weaponized by the governments of the United States and the Republic of Cuba. In investigating the realities of displacement and inherited exile, Sainz honors her imagined past, present, and future as a result of the “revolution within the revolution,”—the emancipation of Cuban women.
Through lyric and associative meditations, Sainz anatomizes the unique grief of immigrant daughters, as the poems’ speaker discovers how family can be a microcosm of the very violence that displaced them. What emerges is a spiritual blueprint for disinheritance, radical self-determination, and the nuanced examinations of myth, ritual, and resistance.