By Evelyn Heis, Film & TV Editor
Latin America is home to some of the most exciting and innovative literature in the world. And no, just because I’m Argentinian does not mean I am biased.
When one thinks of Latin American poetry, the first names that spring to mind may be Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet; Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet; or Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine poet and short-story writer. Particularly within the English education system, discourse surrounding Latin American literature has often failed to account for the numerous female authors, poets, and voices that have heavily contributed to Latin American literature.
Thankfully, the last few years have seen a growing presence of Latinx and translated literature; brought upon by independent publishers such as Charco Press, Fitzcarraldo Editions, and Flipped Eye Publishing, who were the first to publish a British LatinX Poetry Anthology, Un Nuevo Sol (2019).
This surge in Latin American literature demonstrates the evident appetite for Latin American stories in our society, and further highlights how much more Latinx voices need to be showcased, particularly women’s and other minorities, such as the LGBTQ+ community. Contemporary works such as Temporary Archives: Poetry by Women of Latin America (2022), then, become all the more inspiring.
Organised by Bristol Poetry Institute, an organisation and focal point for the advancement of poetry within the University of Bristol, the event was coordinated by Rebecca Kosick, co-director of BPI and Senior Lecturer in Translation, Comparative Poetry and Poetics.
Introducing the anthology and leading the event was the Chilean poet, translator, researcher, and co-editor of Temporary Archives, Jèssica Pujol Duran. Gently guiding us through the anthology’s intentions and offering us a few readings in Spanish and English, the audience was able to see that Temporary Archives is a unique amalgamation of 24 Latin American female voices, working in Spanish, Portuguese, and Indigenous languages. It served to provide a glimpse into the huge diversity of style, poetics, languages, traditions, and experiences that exist throughout the continent.
The anthology includes poets who have a wide readership in their home countries, from Peru, Argentina, and Chile to Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and many more. Indeed, one of the aims that Jèssica Duran and Juana Adcock (co-editor) had when putting together this anthology is to remain as inclusive as possible, so not to misrepresent anyone.
As such, something that Jèssica outlined on the day was that,
“when we speak of ‘women’ in the subtitle of this anthology, we consider anyone with an experience of womanhood, be it as a cis woman, a non-binary person, or pre- or post-transition”.
Alongside Jèssica, the event also included readings from a few poets whose works are featured in the collection, Luna Montenegro (Chile), Gladys Mendía (Venezuela), Paula Ilabaca (Chile), and Virna Teixeira (Brazil).
It was beautiful to see them all come together, as the readings were all given in their native tongues. Spanish, Portuguese, and Indigenous languages filled the room as we witnessed the vibrancy of their work come to life.
Luna Montenegro, visual artist, poet and performer, even gave an animated reading of a few poems, chanting, rhythmically thumping her chest, and encouraging us to join in with her.
The poetry reading and discussion was an extremely insightful and empowering event. Sitting amidst a room of powerful women who are working to redefine a predominantly male-dominated literary field and to promote the artwork, experiences and voices of Latin American women evoked a lot of pride.
BPI will continue to organise events that showcase Latin American poetry, and I urge you, if you have the opportunity to attend, that you give it a go!
Temporary Archives: Poetry by Women of Latin America (2022) is available to purchase here, and is currently on offer. For those looking to delve into the world of Latin American poetry, why not purchase this collection today?
Featured Image: Cover illustration of Temporary Archives: Poetry by Women of Latin America (2022), 'Conexiones-casuales' by Lucia Morán Giracca
Have you encountered Latinx literature before?