In the introduction to Gaspar de Alba’s collection of poetry and essays, she writes, “I can always tell when parts of a poem start to synchronize in my head . . . when the images keep rolling around on my tongue.” And through the letters spilling from her pen, the reader experiences the same connection, as Gaspar de Alba’s words thread through the mind and stay rolling on the tongue long after the book is closed.
In sections divided into each of the places she visited in her travels, Gaspar de Alba incorporates the Mexican archetypal wailing woman who wanders in search of her lost children. La Llorona is more than an archetype: she is a tour guide through the ruins of love and family, the constant presence of the poet’s voice. She transcends time, place, and gender. The lines of the poems breathe that haunted spirit as they describe her movidas – both geographic and figurative, in search of the lost mother, the absent father, the abandoned child, the lover, the self. These essays track other movements of thought: reflections on identity, sexuality and resistance.
As a leading interpreter of border life and culture, poet, storyteller, and essayist Gaspar de Alba explores the borders and limits of place, body, and language through a painful series of moves and losses. She prevails and becomes the forger of her own destiny, her own image on the landscape, the interpreter of her own dreams and history.
These vibrant poems and essays of self-creation—even to the basic task of choosing her own name—are a testament to the phoenix-like quality of art: the poet can create beauty out of destruction and desolation.