Posted by: ktzefr | August 9, 2013

20 Latin American Women’s Voices

san miguel 188 I love so many of the writers from Latin America.  Here, I have selected only women.  The Spanish language (Portuguese in the case of Brazil) is lovely, of course, but I think these English translations are also pretty.  I chose some of these simply because of the image or the language; others brought back special memories.  Ana Pizarro’s description of holding a warm hen’s egg reminded me of my own childhood, for example, and I loved Cristina Peri Rossi’s image of people (the uprooted) floating in air.  And who hasn’t wanted to stop at some special moment in time and “throw out the anchor” in the way Ana Maria Shua has described time travel?

A lot can be said in a few words…

“Yes, I am full of fears.  If you took them away, I would be weightless and free.  You would see me dance like a dry brown leaf and then I’d blow away in the autumn wind.”  ~ Ruth Behar (Cuba) “Nameless Poems”


“…my life fits in a bag

I carry it fastened to my condition of wanderer.

I can transit the world in two days

And continue to search for the half that I cannot get.”

~ Claudia Bernardi, (Argentina) “Life in a Bag”


“Once I was perched in the branches of my family tree, I was able to realize something that I always knew, but which I was able to see clearly only from that height: the women of my family are less distinct to me than the men.  Perhaps it’s because the women were always present…”

~ Maria Soledad Quiroga, (Bolivia) “The Tree that Produces Cups of Tea”


“You look for them in the nesting boxes or under the plants and, picking them up, hold them close, still warm against the skin of your face.  You have to be careful because sometimes the hens get mad, and then you back away, frightened, and wait for them to leave their nests.  But from then on, that warmth, which you’ll come across later in all sorts of different ways, will be the ultimate expression of contact with life.”
~ Ana Pizarro, (Chile) excerpt from “The Moon, the Wind, the Year, the Day”


“When angels die, handkerchiefs fall from birds

And hover, returning in the soul of the winds.”

~Denise Emmer, (Brazil) “The Angels”


“Ever so often, you can see them, breezing down the boulevards of the bigger cities, men and women who float in the air, suspended in time and space.  They lack roots on the soles of their feet and, sometimes, even lack feet.”

~ Cristina Peri Rossi, (Uruguay) “The Uprooted”


“Time travel is not only possible, but also inescapable and never ending…. What I’d like to do is stop, stay right here, which isn’t too bad: throw out the anchor.”  ~ Ana Maria Shua, (Argentina) “Time Travel”


“I stumble upon myself by surprise.

It happens that I don’t sing as I would like.

I stammer and listen to distant sounds.

Timidly I rise in the rainfall.”

~ Paz Molina, (Chile) “So Lonely”


“I cannot assure you that I am very familiar with the path.

I make mistakes many times,

And my life has been rather like a painful voyage

Overcoming obstacles, dodging storms,

Ignoring spectral sirens inviting me to the past,

Without an adequate compass or logbook

to show me the way.”

~ Daisy Zamora, (Nicaragua)”Mother’s Day”


“Days marked by bells between recess and class

Now remind us of happiness.

It was there and we didn’t even know it.

How could we not know that twenty years later

We would be dreaming in reverse

And we would give it all up to begin again

Before the letters had been thrown away.”

~ Giovanna Pollarolo, (Peru) “Reunion”


“–I was born under a good star they say

That is why now my star

Has just struck this very high wall”

~ Tania Diaz Castro, (Cuba) “The Wall”


“Fragrant roundness

Of earth cooked again…

In a clay bud

The water falls asleep,

Captured and pure…”

~Renee Ferrer de Arrellaga, (Paraguay) “Pitcher”


“They sent him to learn

To cope with numbers,

Letters and things

But Coils the robot

Only understands poetry.

His square tiny tummy

Glows in the sun

And rings like a bell

When he dances and sings.”

~Floria Herrero Pinto, (Costa Rica) “Coils the Robot”


“I placed my dream in a boat

And the boat into the sea,

Then I ripped the sea with my hands

So that my dream would sink.

My hands are still wet

With the blue of the slashed waves,

And the color that runs from my fingers

Colors the deserted sands.”

~ Cecilia Meireles (Brazil),”Song”


“If my love is thus, like a torrent,

like a river swollen in a full tempest,

like a lily starting roots in the wind,

like an intimate rain,

Why do they try to tie it to immovable courses?”

~ Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rico), “My Love is No Longer Mine”


“A tiny, imperceptible dot on the map, a place you may not find but from which you cannot escape.  Storm swept, eroded by tides, erased from the charts, forgotten by men, lost in the middle of the ocean…”  ~ Laura Restrepo (Colombia),  from Isle of Passion


“Paper doll got tired

But said nothing;

She went on letting herself

Be written on,

Got flooded with ink

And just in time was saved

From dying of the last period

Because she climbed onto

A paper ship

And disembarked on the sea.”

~ Guadalupe Morfin, (Mexico) “Paper Doll”


“There’s a deep murmur unraveled,

The air is a song of feather,

A soft babble of grass.

There’s a memory of heaven revived,

Hum of life and a plea.

There’s this need, like a baby’s, to be loved.”

~ Aline Pettersson, (Mexico) “Cuernavaca”


“I am the hummingbird awed

By that highest rosebud.

Oh my balloon, where may it be?

It hangs like a wrinkled wing

From the highest thorn of the tree…”

~Blanca Rodriguez, (Mexico) “Surprise”


“Who’s that stuffed breathless

Inside a tight suit?

Next year will be different.

I’ll wear old clothes,

Be ready to dribble,

And enjoy

Ice cream, cake, and everything else.”

~ Nidia Sanabria de Romero, (Paraguay) “The New Suit”



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