Xánath Caraza is a traveler, educator, poet and short story writer. She is a columnist of La Bloga, Smithsonian Latino Center, Periódico de Poesía and Revista Zona de Ocio. Her books are Lágrima roja, Sin preámbulos / Without Preamble, Le sillabe del vento, Donde la luz es violeta / Where the Light is Violet, Tinta negra / Black Ink, Ocelocíhuatl, Sílabas de viento / Syllables of Wind, Noche de colibríes, Corazón pintado, Conjuro, her short story collection, Lo que trae la marea / What the Tide Brings. Her second short story collection, Pulsación, is in progress.
You are “una pintora de palabras,” (painter of words) in that there is color everywhere in your poetry, and sensuality. Can you describe the fusion of art and language in your poetry? To what do you attribute that impulse?
As a poet, I use words to describe my surroundings. Why not invite my readers to be with me or to make them understand what I capture in my stanzas? In order to accomplish this, I have to describe what I see or feel. I am sure many of us poets paint with words; others sing with words or cry out for justice with verses.
What role does “place” play in your work as writer and poet? Please elaborate.
Between worlds, I have always lived. As a child in Mexico my borders were linguistic and social. At an early age, I was aware of this. My mother grew up bilingually between Spanish and Nahualt, the language of the Mexica (Aztecs). I was also aware of the drastic division of social class in Mexico at an early age. Currently, I live between the U.S. and Mexico, and, again, I am a border crosser, linguistically, physically and emotionally; therefore, place has been always inherent in my work. For instance, Sílabas de viento / Syllables of Wind / Le Sillabe del vento is one of my recent books of poetry, published in three languages—Spanish, English and Italian, and it is entirely a reflection on place, México, Spain, Croatia and beyond. What’s more, my book of poetry Donde la luz es violeta / Where the Light is Violet is full of the light and colors of Italy. This book I wrote in 2015 during a writer’s residence that I had the opportunity to do in Italy that same year.
Can you discuss how culture and gender come into play in your writing?
Women’s voices have always been present in my work. As a female poet, I pay attention to what other women experience and weave those sounds into my poetry or narrative as a manner to validate our diverse perspectives of seeing the world. Frequently, these voices come through their own culture. As mentioned, I live between the U.S. and Mexico and, within each of these countries, a myriad of cultures has co-existed for centuries. From these cultures and beyond, I want women’s voices to be recognized and interacted with in a public sphere. For example, the title story of my short story collection, Lo que trae la marea / What the Tide Brings, presents the voice of a young Afromestiza/African Mexican woman and the challenges she faces in her daily life. In addition, my book of poetry Lágrima roja is a lyrical document of a personal concern I have for femicides.
Are the voices of Latin American poets and writers who are women being heard more these days? What are your thoughts on this?
More female poets and writers are being published in Latin America, I think. We still need more to balance the percentage of female published authors, but definitely the numbers have increased. Hopefully, readers are engaging with published female poets and writers.
What are you working on now? What do you hope to accomplish, artistically speaking, in the near future?
I have an upcoming book of poetry, Sin preámbulos / Without Preamble, translated by Sandra Kingery, being published by Spartan Press. It will be released by the end of this year. I am also working on a couple of books that I will be happy to share about as soon as they are finished.