Skip to main content

Distributed for Swan Isle Press

New Letters to a Young Poet

Translated and with an Afterword by Christopher Maurer

In these intimate pages, award-winning Catalan poet Joan Margarit offers a passionate defense of poetry and of the intelligible poem—the well-made text that can provide refuge, wisdom, and consolation. Inspired by Rilke’s classic Letters to a Young Poet, this slender volume explores poetry as vocation, obsession, and partnership between writer and reader, a "road toward inner growth." For Margarit, poetry promises "a clarity that allows us mysteriously to live without the need to forget." This is essential reading for poets young and old, writers, and readers seeking insights into the creative process and "the way both poet and reader can find their own way to face solitude."

120 pages | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2010

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Swan Isle Press image

View all books from Swan Isle Press


“Poetry’s allure still remains strong in the modern day. New Letters to a Young Poet is a discussion of poetry and its role in today’s literature. Stating that poetry can express more than just what the words read, Margarit gives readers a bit of memoir within the literary discussion. Translated from Spanish with an afterword by Christopher Maurer, New Letters to a Young Poet is a choice and solidly recommended addition to community library literary collections.”

Midwest Book Review

“In these letters, Joan Margarit, a major poet and architect writing in Catalan, dialogues with Rilke, thus updating for younger writers the many lessons learnt from life thanks to literature. It’s a call for a poetry that tries to communicate exactly and concisely the experiences and emotions of everyday life. At the same time, this book is Margarit’s compelling intellectual autobiography. Christopher Maurer’s extensive experience as a translator of poetry is crucial in making this a noteworthy achievement.”

Enric Bou, Brown University

“Joan Margarit, one of Catalonia’s most acclaimed contemporary poets, believes poetry is a difficult art in an age of easy poesy. In New Letters to a Young Poet, Maragarit engages in a dialogue both with Rilke and with present-day readers in a passionate and rigorous definition of poetry as an art that entails knowledge, effort, architecture, love transcendence, and solitude. Perhaps inevitably it is also a manual for a certain way of living life. The epigraph, indeed, could be Rilke’s ‘And the point is to live everything.’ And then to write it, with art.”

Mary Ann Newman, The Catalan Center at New York University

"Many books exist on the art of writing poetry, manuals that focus on technique and tradition, on music, meter and form . . . But in New Letters to a Young Poet, Catalan poet and architect Joan Margarit offers a definitive new work that explores the development of the inner life of an aspiring poet, taking on the difficult subjects of translating the emotion of pain or suffering into language and symbolism, the poem as a place of refuge, both for the poet and its reader; the relationships between poetry and love, orgasm and guilt, cruelty and truth, romanticism and the avant-garde, and apprenticeship and the classics. What’s most compelling is the book’s take on poetry as experience versus poetry as emotion or feeling."—nthWord


"In its entirety, Christopher Maurer’s translation provides fascinating insight into the uniquely expansive intimacy of Joan Margarit’s poetic world, a world of unrelenting and even painful honesty. This translation invites new readers to join the dialogue with one of Catalonia’s most renowned contemporary literary figures."

Catalan Review

Winner, 2019

Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana

Winner, 2019 Miguel de Cervantez Prize

Miguel de Cervantez Prize

Table of Contents


1. Beginning to Write, Beginning to Publish
2. Necessity
3. Inspiration
4. Reading a Good Poem
5. Understanding a Good Poem
6. Poetry and Literature
7. Poetry and Tradition
8. Poetry, Philosophy, and Religion
9. Poetry and Love
10. Poetry and Solitude


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press