In the introduction to Alicia Gaspar de Alba's collection of poetry and essays, she writes, "I can always tell when parts of a poem start to synchronize in my head...when the images keep rolling around on my tongue." And through the letters spilling from her pen, the reader experiences the same connection, as Gaspar de Alba's words thread through the mind an stay rolling on the tongue long after the book is closed.
Divided into sections that correspond to her travels, Gaspar de Alba follows the Mexican archetypal wailing woman who wanders in search of her lost children. La Llorona, in fact, is her tour guide through the ruins of love and family. She transcends time, place, and gender, forever searching for a lost mother, an absent father, an abandoned child, lover, self. The essays, on the other hand, track other movements of thought: reflections on identity, sexuality, and cultural resistance.
As a leading interpreter of border life and culture, this marvelous poet, storyteller, and essayist explores the borders and limits of place, body, and language through a painful series of moves and losses. She prevails and becomes the forger of her own destiny, her own image on the landscape, the interpreter of her own dreams and history.
These vibrant poems and essays of self-creation--even to the basic task of choosing her own name--are a testament to the phoenix-like quality of art: the poet can create beauty out of destruction and desolation.