XLV

ON MY BOOKSHELF

It's been quite awhile since I've last shared anything here. Since the last time I posted, I have moved across the country and have spent this time getting to know my new city (Milwaukee) and life in the midwest. First time! I'm finally feeling settled in and at home. 

Today I wanted to share with you this post which has been in my mind for quite some time. I have always read mostly foreign literature as it's a favorite of mine. Lately, I've been expanding what I read even further. Being a woman of color (Mexican), I went on a search for fellow Latina writers and wanted to share these books with you as a way to open up your reading world to maybe a something little different. Mine, as well. The women here are all amazing in their own right and I encourage you to look into more into their life, history and work. The words they write are beautiful and lush. Very happy to have come across these. If you recommend any others, please do let me know.

"Natalia Toledo's The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems, with an award-winning translation by Clare Sullivan, describes contemporary Isthmus Zapotec life in lush, sensual detail. In Toledo's poems of love and loss the world's population turns into fish, death is a cricket, and naked women are made of wet magma. 

Natalia Toledo has written four books of poetry and two of prose, all appearing in bilingual Isthmus Zapotec-Spanish editions. In 2004, she won the Nezahualcoyótl Prize, Mexico's most prestigious prize for indigenous-language literature, for her book The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems. She has read her poetry around the world. Her work as a jewelry and clothing designer and chef reiterates the lively imagery of her poetry. She lives in Mexico."

Flower that Drops Its Petals

I will not die from absence.
A hummingbird pinched the eye of my flower
and my heart mourns and shivers,
does not breathe.
My wings tremble like the long-billed curlew
when he foretells the sun and the rain.
I will not die from absence, I tell myself.
A melody bows down upon the throne of my sadness,
an ocean springs from my stone of origin.
I write in Zapotec to ignore the syntax of pain,
ask the sky and its fire
to give me back my happiness.
Paper butterfly that sustains me:
why did you turn your back upon the star
that knotted your navel?

More information via World Literature Today

Hear the author read in Zapotec via Asymptote Journal

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"In the first comprehensive selection and translation of Dulce María Loynaz's poetry, James O'Connor invites us to hear the haunting voice of Cuba's celebrated poet, whom the Nobel Laureate Juan Ramón Jiménez terms in his Foreword, "archaic and new...tender, weightless, rich in abandon." Widely published in Spain during the 1950s, Loynaz's poetry was almost forgotten in Cuba after the Revolution. International recognition came to her late: at the age of ninety she was living in seclusion in Havana when the Royal Spanish Academy awarded her the 1992 Cervantes Prize, the highest literary accolade in the Spanish language. The first English publication of her work, Absolute Solitude contains a selection of poems from each of Loynaz's books, including the acclaimed prose poems from Poems with No Names, a selection of posthumously published work.

Dulce María Loynaz, "the grande dame of Cuban letters," received international recognition in 1992 for her nearly century-long contributions to Spanish letters when she was awarded the Cervantes Prize, widely recognized at the highest prize in Spanish literature. Often called the "Emily Dickinson of Cuba," her poems are celebrated for their precision and modern lyricism. Though born to a patriotic family - her father, General Enrique Loynaz del Castillo, was a national figure, having fought under Antonio Maceo in Cuba's war for independence - she stopped publishing for several decades following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, as her deeply personal style and themes were incongruous with the period's ideological control over the arts. She died in Havana City, the same city in which she was born, in 1997."

Learn more via World Literature Today

More information and purchase at Archipelago Books

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"Diorama is both a book of poems and a performance action by the poet Rocío Cerón, who guides the reader on a hallucinatory, spiraling journey through image, language, Mexican history, and soundscapes. As unrelentingly tactile as it is unapologetically cerebral, Rocío Cerón’s new book asks that we relinquish control and submit to the poet’s brutal lyricism, and to a new kind of order imposed like a penumbra between us and the waking world.

Rocío Cerón is from Mexico City and her work combines poetry with music, performance, and video. In addition to Diorama (or DIORAMA? Sometimes it’s in all caps) she’s published Basalto, Imperio/Empire, and Tiento. Her poems have been translated into a number of languages, including Finnish, French, Swedish, and German."

Preparing to read Diorama via Three Percent

Poking at Memory: A Conversation with Rocío Cerón

Two poems via Mexico City Lit

XLIV

CY TWOMBLY AT THE MENIL COLLECTION

I've always wanted to visit the Cy Twombly Gallery at The Menil Collection in Houston but I never did get around to it. I happened to be in Houston this weekend and I thought I should go see it before I move out of the state in a few weeks. I am so glad I did because it was inspiring and so beautiful. The space is magnificent. Open, light white floors, white walls, high ceilings. There was no one in the gallery but me and the silence and solitude was more than I could ask for. Just perfect.  

I also visited the main Menil Collection and was stunned by its beauty, as well. It's a beautiful museum with some really great galleries showcasing some of my favorite artists. The Surrealism gallery was, of course, my favorite.  

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Photos taken by me