Poetry News

The women of Mexican letters

By Harriet Staff

An article in Newsweek contemplates the swaggering, manly poets of Roberto Bolaño's Mexico City. Poets remain in Mexico, but they're a little less manly now.

No longer just the domain of male greats like Bolaño, Octavio Paz, and Juan Rulfo, Mexican literature has given rise to a new class of female scribes who are racking up successes at home and abroad with books that tackle such issues as immigration, discrimination, and cultural identity in lyrical, engaging prose. At a time when Arizona is waging war on its Mexican immigrants, these writers are providing new perspectives on being Mexican and crossing borders, both physical and cultural. More than simply migrants or invisible laborers, their Mexican narrators are sharp and multilayered. “There are some times when I feel compelled to say, ‘This is also Mexican,’ ” says [Gabriela] Jauregui, who has written poems about riding the subway in Mexico City and blue-collar workers in East L.A. who dress up in ornate cowboy outfits at night and practice roping in neighborhood parks.

Recently, Mexico has seen a surge in independent publishing houses willing to publish new writers. Meanwhile, the numbers of female writing students, and of writing collectives for women, have swelled. All these developments prompt hope that Mexican women's voices will continue to be heard.

Originally Published: October 1st, 2010