Gloria Anzaldúa (1942-2004)

Writing is very liberating and emancipatory; it frees you up. In the process of writing you’re reflecting on all the things that make you different, that make you the same, that make you a freak. You’re constantly grappling with identity issues. Postcoloniality looks at this power system—whether it’s a government, anthropology, or composition—and asks, “Who has the voice? Who says these are the rules? Who makes the law? And if you’re not part of making the laws and the rules and the theories, what part do you play? How is that other system placed in your mind?” You get into the neocolonization of people’s minds. You get into the erasure of certain histories, the erasure of ideas, voices, languages, and books. A lot of the Mayan and Aztec codices were burned and a whole system of knowledge wiped out. Postcoloniality comes and asks these questions.

{ Gloria Anzaldúa, Interviews/Entrevistas, Routledge, 2000 }


To a Spanish Poet
(for Manuel Altolaguirre)

You stared out the window on the emptiness
Of a world exploding:
Stones and rubble thrown upwards in a fountain
Blasted sideways by the wind.
Every sensation except loneliness
Was drained out of your mind
By the lack of any motionless object the eye could find.
You were a child again
Who sees for the first time things happen.

Then, stupidly, the sulphur stucco pigeon
Fixed to the gable above your ceiling
Swooped in a curve before the window
Uttering, as it seemed, a coo.
When you smiled,
Everything in the room was shattered,
Only you remained whole
In frozen wonder, as though you stared
At your image in the broken mirror
Where it had always been silverly carried.

Thus I see you
With astonishment whitening in your gaze
Which still retains in the black central irises
Laughing images
Of a man lost in the hills near Malaga
Having got out of his carriage
And spent a week following a partridge;
Or of that broken-hearted general
Who failed to breed a green-eyed bull.

Beyond the violet violence of the news,
The meaningless photographs of the stricken faces,
The weeping from entrails, the vomiting from eyes,
In all the peninsular places,
My imagination reads
The penny fear that you are dead.

Perhaps it is we who are unreal and dead,
We of a world that revolves, dissolves and explodes
While we lay the steadfast corpse under the ground
Just beneath the earth’s lid,
And the flowering eyes grow upwards through the grave
As through a rectangular window
Seeing the stars become clear and more clear
In a sky like a sheet of glass,
Beyond these comedies of falling stone.

Your heart looks through the breaking body,
Like axle through the turning wheel,
With eyes of blood.
Unbroken heart,
You stare through my revolving bones
On the transparent rim of the dissolving world
Where all my side is opened
With ribs drawn back like springs to let you enter
And replace my heart that is more living and more cold.

Oh let the violent time
Cut eyes into my limbs
As the sky is pierced with stars that look upon
The map of pain,
For only when the terrible river
Of grief and indignation
Has poured through all my brain
Can I make from lamentation
A world of happiness,
And another constellation,
With your voice that still rejoices
In the centre of its night,
As, buried in this night,
The stars burn with their brilliant light.

{ Stephen Spender, Selected Poems, Faber & Faber, 1944 }

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