Using both lyrical and narrative forms, these concise verses explore a family history set against the larger backdrop of Mexican history, immigration, and landscapes of the Southwest. The poet's delicate touch lends these poems an organic quality that allows her to address both the personal and the political with equal grace. Straightforward without being simplistic or reductive, these poems manage to be intimate without seeming self-important.
This distinctive collection ranges from the frighteningly whimsical image of Cortés dancing gleefully around a cannon to the haunting and poignant discovery of a dead refugee boy seemingly buried within the poet herself. The blending of styles works to blur the lines between subjects, creating a textured narrative full of both imagination and nuance.
Ultimately, Empire situates individual experience in the wider social context, highlighting the power of poetry as song, performance, testimony, and witness. Addressing themes such as war, family, poverty, gender, race, and migration, Candelaria gives us a dialogue between historical and personal narratives, as well as discreet "conversations" between content and form.
'I am amazed at the poetic reach and depth of Xochiquetzal's work - the Totonac encounter with Europe, Leda and Orpheus, Pancho Villa, the Mekong Delta and the sensual silvery emulsions of memoria, desire and love. Then there are the poly-vocal strategies of line, photo-dream and exploded texts. Listen to echoes of Ho Xuan Huong, the 16th century Vietnamese master poet, who used image, erotic tone, cultural story and triple meanings to offset the ruling dynasty. A kind of magical power glows - a mind-burning new direction in Latina and Latino poetry.' --Juan Felipe Herrera, author of Half of the World in Light
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