Thursday, March 21, 2019

Cristina Rivera Garza

Another writer -- novelist, poet, academic -- that I've discovered via the anthology women: poetry: migration ed. Jane Joritz-Nakagawa (2017). (Rivera Garza is Mexican but currently lives in the USA.)

She writes both in Spanish and English. Her novels in Spanish are widely read and admired, e.g. Nadie me verá llorar (1999), La cresta de Ilión (2002) and most recently El mal de la taiga (2012), the latter recently translated into English as The Taiga Syndrome.

Here's some extracts from her contribution to the anthology, "About to something". I hope they give a hint of its unfrivolity and poetic intelligence -- but isn't this just another way of saying intelligence? --  though they can't give much idea of the dense weave of anaphora/cataphora within this imaginative landscape.


The undergrowth is a terrified accumulation of carnivorous plants and thorns and violent sky-blue humidity, and foliage.


At the center of everything lies, naturally, murder.

Death is never a vacillation.


Does the child know that he is about to faint under the sharp edge of a furious sword?

I do not know what the girl knows.
It is an exaggeration to describe a front yard as an "undergrowth".
But, I insist, when you look back and are able to see their faces, still burning, and their thin bodies spread with geometric rigor on the green, humid ground, do you feel something?

When pronouncing the words "undergrowth" and "spell", the speaker may have the impression he is talking about the same thing.

Feeling is a very large green.

In the Garden Court, right in front of the six sleeping women, heads on bent arms, all of them languid on wooden tables, peaceful, I thought: "Perhaps we will never know if we were palpated by the kind of life we never managed to know."


The one who continues praying through the body, under the sheltering vault, within the ceasing. Look for genuflection, reverence, adoration. Look out for fear. Feel it. Feel the terror. Something ought to be understood. Look at the empty hands, for example. Feel the weight of the body not there. Scratching is a way of growling with fingers. To shiver. To wound. A wall is also a thing made out of night dew.

["About to something" is in two parts. The last of these extracts comes from the second part, in memoriam Marisela Escobedo Ortíz, a human rights activist killed in Chihuahua in 2010 while protesting the murder of her daughter.]


There's masses of online writing by and about Rivera Garza. From so much, I'll just quote part of the long poem "Tercer mundo" ("Third World"), translated by Jen Hofer:

In the kitchen which was everywhere the men came to know the bite of garlic intimately
and those who were going to be women wore glass armor instead of flowered aprons.

They could be recognized by the agility of their thighs and the proficiency of their hands as they snatched.

They were the diurnal animals that took the parks by storm
     solid like a flagpole ringed with light
the length of it appeased by wide red-black flags.
They, the ones with sad armpits and mouths bursting with the greatest hunger
     flung themselves upon the roundness of the world with arms and legs made of net.
They could be recognized because it was difficult to know if they were just going or if they were already returning aghast.
They were the ones who sang hymns out of tune and walked upstream in parades
     the contingent of dark individuals.

They could be recognized by their way of being absolutely, roundly, cinematically wrong.

But above all they could be recognized by the excess in their eyes
     obsidian stones inlaid in firm emaciated crania
tremendously stunned drops
kites flying spiral.


A lucid and fascinating interview with Andy Fitch (Dec. 2018):

Cristina Rivera Garza's current blog:
Previous blog:
Articles in Literal magazine:
She's also on Twitter: .

[Image source: .]



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