Tinta negra / Black Ink by Xánath Caraza, A Poetic Postulation
Guest Blogger, Eugenia Toledo Renner
Xánath Caraza, native of the colorful land of Xalapa, Veracruz, is a woman who “breathes poetry” and therefore writes every day. Writing is a very important part of her life, as are education and traveling. Having published numerous collections of short stories and poetry, Xánath comes to us today with a beautiful bilingual text entitled Tinta negra / Black Ink, translated by Sandra Kingery, from Pandora Lobo Estepario Productions Press, 2016. Let me explain why I strongly recommend this book.
As soon as we begin reading Poem I of Tinta negra, we immediately feel a palpable dualism, a real and painful world, the subject matter that not only the poetic voice but also her readers perceive, and secondly, the world of poetic articulation, internal and also spiritual.
From its first lines, the collection attempts to elucidate certain points that are essential for every poet about the process of life, and therefore, of poetry, where it’s coming from and where it’s going. After the question: What is a border? and the answer: Created limits / Cultures forced to turn their back, we are confronted with two countries, hearts divided by walls, women who have lost their existence during their trip through the desert and many anonymous graves that no one remembers. Borders of any kind mean division, separation, and oppression. Spaces limited by fences and walls constitute a lack of freedom and losses. There is mention here of our deep America (Poem II) and the need to poeticize. Poeticizing in America can mean bleeding from its wounds or through its open veins (recalling Galeano). And in Poem IV, she answers: What remains? / The belief that we can exist / The thrill of building with others / The memories denied. Poetry is a communal and individual task, even if it is illusory.
It is also discipline, research, water we need to drink (Poem V), and a struggle against the opposition of equivalence (Poem VI). But it is genetic material as well, a corporeal essence that flows in arteries (Poem VII). If it flows and is liquid in our system, it resembles a river whose currents go toward the sea, toward broad and libertarian spaces. These rivers, subterranean currents, aquatic riverbed, and palpitations of precipitation (images from Poem XIII) that traverse the female body like red ink, finally reach their destination, tingling in the fingertips, opening the hands that end up independent (innocent and cut in an instant as Poem XIV indicates, which brings Víctor Jara’s hands to mind), and are spilled across the canvas or the page or overflow the inkwell of black ink.
We find ourselves before an act of profound love (Poem XVIII), a symbiosis, a chemical act where the components do not appear randomly, but because that is how it is. This is the secret of Xánath Caraza’s poetry, she lives it and transports it (at a reading in Seattle in 2015, a poet whose name I cannot recall said that poetry “is like a virus”); meanwhile, Xánath tells us it is a trickle of blood that hurts, and it may even be spiritual childbirth through time. A woman knows these comparisons very well.
In conjunction with this poetic representation, Caraza discovers her underlying relationship with the natural. One very special aspect of her poetry is a visual unfolding. Xánath commits herself to beauty. She speaks in a striking fashion, moving through metaphors, internal musicality, repetition, adjectivation, a renewed gaze upon nature, and the strength of imagination to express the visible and invisible. And more than anything, we love her liquid worlds and colors. Olmec green, other greens, blue (which is the color of the indigenous mapuche culture here in South America), the golds, daybreaks, pearly and white and amber, pale and brilliant colors, and finally, the red blood, the black ink. The black ink of the title arrives in a powerful flood. Black ink on the empty page. Vital liquid that has crossed borders and intertwined with the veins of the body. This is living poetry. It exists and is here. This brings us to the end of a compact and substantial book. The poetic beauty is impressive, it is alive and moves through the world, as Gabriel Zaid would say.
Is the end the beginning / Of a new stage? / Is the beginning the end / Of an old sentiment? (Poem XX) What’s left for me? (Poem XXII) And the answer: Write it in black ink (Poem X) Liquid pulsations / are tattooed on the page (Poem XIII).
Tinta negra has a calling, it is energizing and as beautiful as the painting on the cover of the book, entitled “Corazón de tinta y obsidiana” [Heart of Ink and Obsidian], by Silvia Santos.
Eugenia Toledo Renner, author
Temuco, Chile / Seattle, WA, USA