Friday, December 28, 2012
by: Judith Falzon
Section: Adult Book Reviews
Reviewed by Judith Falzon, St. Joseph County Public Library, South Bend, IN Connect!
Conjuro is a magnificenttour de force. Xánath Caraza’s poetry weaves together a tapestry of languages, places, and time. She calls forth the departed, the oppressed, the forgotten. They speak to her—and through her--with passion, power and authenticity. ("Women’s strength flows/Among pages/Of lost poems/Of forgotten glyphs/Among galleries/Of engraved images/Poetry tattooed on the skin/Xochipilli.")
Many of the poems in this breathtaking collection are incantations: (“Este, este es mi poema para Yanga, /Mandinga, malanga, bamba/Rumba, mambo, samba,/Palabras llegadas de Africa.”)
The verses rise from the poet's core—fully grounded in natural elements and in the ancestors. Caraza experiences the world through climate, foliage, water, stone and color. Through her elemental core, she then experiences the world at large, always carrying with her the ancestors and her native experiences. Later poems show her as poet, teacher, activist negotiating and absorbing experiences in Spain, Great Britain, and the American Midwest.
The 46 poems in Conjuro were composed first in Spanish (with some Nahuatl, language of the Aztecs). Most of the poems were then translated or co-translated by the author into English. A few poems intermingle the three languages. The Spanish versions of the poems are especially delightful.
Conjuro has been named one of the top ten books of poetry for 2013 by LatinoStories.com. Xánath Caraza is a previous winner of the Ediciones Nuevo Espacio international short story contest and a finalist for the first international John Barry Award.
This ‘must-read’ collection is highly recommended for academic and large public libraries and bookstores.