In my initial post for Harriet, I mentioned a roundup I wrote for the Village Voice back in April of recent notable poetry books. Space constraints and the critical-narrative arc I decided upon for the piece didn’t allow for the mention of other interesting collections (such as one I referenced in another post, Matthea Harvey’s Modern Life, or Richard Deming’s Let’s Not Call it Consequence), along with books by Renee Gladman and Wanda Coleman that blur the boundaries between poetry and prose.
There’s one poet I did mention whom I’d like to bring a little more attention to here: Coral Bracho.
Bracho’s 1981 El ser que va a morir (Being toward Death) is considered a groundbreaking and enormously important book of poetry in Mexico. Excerpts from it appear in Firefly under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho, translated and with an introduction by Forrest Gander. Being toward Death writes a fluid erotic intimacy within an implied domestic space where bodies are permeable, fragmented, and recalibrated in proximity to each other. Here’s an excerpt (in Spanish first) from a poem called “Your Edges: Clefts that Reveal Me”:
Intentionally or not, Bracho introduced a version of écriture feminine into the Octavio Paz lineage of Mexican poetry. Her earlier work, with its dashes and fragments, at moments reminds me of Danielle Collobert’s poetry. Bracho’s later writing is more restrained, more focused on objects than subjects (more Paz-ian in a way), but no less haunting or haunted. Time, always shadowed by mortality, displaces a previous grasping at immediacy. Language that was once fractured is now limned by silence. From the book-length poem That Space, that Garden:
Of the scores of books I read or looked at for my Voice roundup, Bracho was one of my favorite personal discoveries, i.e., a poet whose work I didn’t know, and which deeply impressed me.
Alan Gilbert is the author of the poetry collections The Treatment of Monuments (2012) and Late in the Antenna Fields (2011). He has earned praise for his ability to move between personal, national, and global scales and experiences in his wide-ranging, politically and ethically astute poetry. He is the author...