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Three in Spanish

Elisa Rizo’s Caminos y Veredas: Narrativas de Guinea Ecuatorial (Textos de Difusión Cultural UNAM) provides a much-needed update to the selection of Equatorial Guinean fiction available outside the country. The book features one to three short stories each by Donato Ndongo, Justo Bolekia Boleka, José Fernando Siale Djangany, Juan Tomas Ávila Laurel, and Recaredo Silebo Boturu. Most of the writers in this volume write across genres, like poet-playwrights Ávila Laurel and Recaredo Silebo. Elisa Rizo’s comprehensive preface introduces each writer with a biographical and historical, often political contextualization. Rizo’s introductory essay in the September – October issue of World Literature Today is required reading for anyone interested in the literature of Equatorial Guinea, and this definitive, diminutive anthology deserves rapid translation into English.

Martín CampsPoemas de un zombi/Zombie poems (Samsara), translated by Anthony Seidman and Traci Roberts, includes black-and-white zombie illustrations by Gustavo Abascal. Though the bilingual format sometimes seems cramped on the page, it is worthwhile to see the liberties that translators Seidman and Roberts allowed themselves, showcasing their own talent as poet-translators.

Haiku zombi o zombiku

Cerebro de Einstein
quisiera haber comido
delicatessen.

Zombieku

Einstein’s brain matter…
must have tasted as good as
pastrami on rye.

Though it may appear more lighthearted than Camps’ earlier work, this is the lightheartedness of desperation, and beyond its dedicatory mention of Javier Sicilia, the collection’s zombie landscape is a metaphor for the current political situation in Mexico. Zombie poems is a fun book, with something serious beneath it.

Gaspar Orozco’s latest collection, Plegarias a la Reina Mosca (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León), is exactly what its title suggests: a series of prayers to la reina mosca, the queen fly. The collection’s first 86 lyric psalms praise the queen fly for her wings, her buzz and whisper, and much more, often evoking the Songs of Solomon, the Hebrew Psalms, and Mary worship.

36

En el centro
del reloj
sin manecilla
te posas
un segundo

Reina eres del tiempo.

Reina Mosca

36

On the center
of the clock
without a minute hand
you pose
one second

Queen you belong to time.

Queen Fly

43

Que el filo
de tu relámpago
me ciege
cada noche

Reina incandescente

Reina Mosca

43

May the string
of your lightning
blind me
each night

Incandescent queen

Queen Fly

(translations mine)

These psalms are followed by a briefer series of prayers to Petrus Christus and several prose poems that remind me of Hugo Hiriart—an Orozco friend and collaborator. A book that presents a accessible Conceptualism without diluting its clarity of concept, Plegarias a la Reina Mosca is the most exciting book of Mexican poetry that I’ve read this year.

Martín Camps, Gaspar Orozco, and I will be at the tenth FeLiNo Book Fair in Tijuana later this week.

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