Thursday, April 22, 2010

En Nepantla With Jaime Luis Huenun

Of the many treasures I discovered at Denver's AWP conference, Mapuche poet, Jaime Luis Huenun's, Port Trakl, has been the most intriguing; a slim volume of 59 pages published in 2008 by Action Books. While its structure on paper assumes that of a long poem, it's arrangement reads more like a Rulfo short story of sorts. Obviously influenced by Austrian poet Georg Trakl as the title connotes, it is of no surprise that the current of Port Trakl gives way to abandonment, pain, and sacrifice. A familiar collection of symptoms responsible for Trakl's very own tragic suicide at the young age of twenty-seven.

"I cross this forest of tortured firs. / Falling stars sweeten / distant birch." writes Huenun. "Silently, a woman appears in the mist / and illuminates my path. / Her lantern has no light." And it is in this sense of obscurity and wandering that the characters of Port Trakl survive. They linger in the spaces between worlds, the space Gloria E. Anzaldua once addressed as nepantla or la tierra desconocida.

Although Huenun's, Port Trakl, is reminiscent of works authored by writer's before him, it legitimately merits accolades of its own. There is a certain authenticity weaved within the poem unrelated to his admitted influences of Melville, and Trakl. Jaime Luis Huenun has somehow realized a sense of peace en la tierra desconocida.

Huenun, Jaime Luis. Port Trakl. Action Books, 2008.

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