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Book Review
Jose B. Gonzalez

by X
ánath Caraza


Xánath Caraza’s Conjuro does just as the title implies—it conjures.  But more than that, this cross-linguistic collection provides a sensory experience that puts the reader in the center of the conjuring—all at once, the poetry conjures you and makes you feel as if you are part conjurer.

Caraza incorporates Spanish English, and Nahuatl, and that’s really the only way that this collection could have beeen written.  Not many poets are able to shift linguistically and be equally artistically proficient in each.  The Dominican American poet, Rhina Espaillat, comes to mind as one of the few masters of this.  But the subject matter of much of this collection—a blend of Aztec gods and goddesses, Mexican figures, and African influences, requires the use of the three languages.  And like a true wordsmith, Caraza knows exactly how to make words come to life.  “Yanga,” for example, dedicated to the late great, Louis Reyes Rivera, manages to capture the musical rhythm of the lines in the English and Spanish versions of the poem.

The collection also reminds us of the role of inspirational women.  In poems such as “Ancestral Strength,” Conjuro pays homage to the matriarchs whose face and names are often overlooked by historians.  Likewise, “Macuilxochitzin” celebrates Aztec women poets and saviors. 
Geographically, this poetry collections eventually lands in Spain and the Midwest, U.S.A., where the poet has lived for years.  These aren’t the places where for the most part, the traditions of which Caraza writes in the first half of the books were born.  Yet clearly they are a great complement.  Overall, Conjuro is an enchanting poetry collection that offers something unique and refreshing in the literary world.  Whether in English, Spanish, or Nahuatl, Caraza proves herself ambitious and a true poetic talent.



Copyright 2006 design and content by John S. Christie and Jose B. Gonzalez
Copyright 2006 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, Pearson Education, Inc.
Copyright 2006 Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination, John S. Christie