Frank Báez on What It Means to Be a Dominican Writer and Poet
In 2013, the celebrated Miami-based poetry festival O’ Miami invited another round of luminary writers down to the city to honor the art of the verse. Among the attendees—which included Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, poet and memoirist Patricia Lockwood, and inaugural poet Richard Blanco—was Frank Báez, one of the Dominican Republic’s best known poets and writers. Described by Words Without Borders as “the homegrown Junot Diaz of the Dominican literary scene,” Baez has honed a talent for turning conversant language into fiery rhetoric, a mix of cool observations, pop-cultural connoisseurship, and crackling street smarts. Baez sharp-witted observations and visceral existentialism recall the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño and the Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas. His short story “Karate Kid,” in which a narrator and his sister take taekwondo classes alongside the neighborhood bully, is the Dominican selection for our Global Anthology.
Baez is the author of several collections of poetry, many short stories, and book of essays that is being published in the Dominican Republic; along with his writing, He is also the co-editor of Ping Pong a DR-based online poetry journal with a mission to instigate more conversations between writers of his native country and writers from abroad.