Mark Weiss

'Across the line / Al otro lado'

Poetry of Baja California in 'Jacket' 21

In his introduction to this Jacket feature, Mark Weiss delves into the literary history of Baja Californian poetry. It is impossible to separate art from history; the growth of a region corresponds to the flourishing of expression, and political occurrences like the increased scrutiny of the borders post-9/11 or Mexico’s Woodstock in ’71 leave a visible trace.

In his introduction to this Jacket feature, Mark Weiss delves into the literary history of Baja Californian poetry. It is impossible to separate art from history; the growth of a region corresponds to the flourishing of expression, and political occurrences like the increased scrutiny of the borders post-9/11 or Mexico’s Woodstock in ’71 leave a visible trace. At the same time, Baja California is a liminal space. It is ever-changing and constantly passed through.

Bird, La Bruja

Soleida Ríos, Photo by Kristin Dykstra, 2013
Soleida Ríos, Photo by Kristin Dykstra, 2013

Soleida Ríos (b. 1950 in eastern Cuba) is a remarkable poet from whom comparatively little work is circulating to date in English.  There may be a further delay in terms of book projects in translation, for Ríos lost a translator when Barbara Jamison tragically passed away. 

The death of a translator is a reminder of the small, mortal scale of possibility embedded within these our “global” landscapes.  It’s also a cue to remember, with Esther Allen, that “the translation of a text often depends largely or perhaps wholly on contextual factors that have less to do with the work’s intrinsic value (whatever that might be and however you might measure it) than with encounters between individuals and the shifting cultural and political contexts within which those encounters take place.”[1]

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