The Spines of Love
This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
The Spines of Love collects work from Víctor Terán’s poetic oeuvre for the first time in a trilingual edition: in their original Isthmus Zapotec (an endangered indigenous Mexican language) and in David Shook’s Spanish and English translations. Sensual and intricately wrought, these poems take readers on an emotional journey through love and loss with a searing lyricism entirely Terán’s own. His lover’s body is a city where the poet can “give perfect directions,” her name slips over his tongue “like a fish between the hands / of a fisherman,” and when she leaves him it’s with memories like “an ocean of incessant fish.”
The Spines of Love stands for a simple but bracing truth: Yes, love can hurt, but even after it departs, it strengthens us.
Praise for The Spines of Love
“I’m reminded of Pablo Neruda in a bitter mood. The poems are about lost love and betrayal, and the long free verse poems with short lines owe something to Neruda’s laconic and confessional style. There’s also a dry wit in these pages….There are times it teeters on the edge of the sentimental, but somehow regains its balance just in time….Full of delightful twists of image when describing the poet’s emotions….His style is graceful and vivid, his subjects compellingly familiar.”
—Judi Sutherland, Sabotage Reviews
“A significant array of stateless languages and cultures, while positioned outside the reach of dominant nation-states, has begun more recently to create new literatures as vehicles for those outsidered by the ruling powers....Like others so engaged, and perhaps more than most, Víctor Terán begins from a base in the Zapotec spoken–and now written–on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and in Oaxaca, and pushes outward to merge and become a part of the poetry and literature of the world at large....The importance of these poetries for a new poetry and poetics of the Americas is by now irreversible—or should be. Terán’s forthcoming publication by Restless Books in Brooklyn is but another step in that direction.”
—Jerry Rothenberg, “Poetry and Poetics” blog for Jacket 2
Víctor Terán is the preeminent living poet of the Isthmus Zapotec language of Southern Oaxaca, Mexico. His work has been translated and anthologized around the world. He’s published three books of poems in Spanish, a book of children’s poetry, and is currently completing a translation of 40 world poets into Isthmus Zapotec. In Shook’s translation his work has appeared in Poetry, World Literature Today, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Agenda, Modern Poetry in Translation, Oxford Magazine, PN Review, and a Poetry Translation Centre chapbook. He’s been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and featured on BBC4. In 2010 he toured the UK, setting records for chapbook sales for the Poetry Translation Centre. A series of recordings made at the BBC Studios are available online.
David Shook is a poet, translator, and filmmaker in Los Angeles, where he edits molossus and Phoneme Media. His most recent translations include work by Mario Bellatin, Tedi López Mills, and Oswald de Andrade. His indigenous Mexican translations include work from Zoque and Nahuatl, which he studied in San Agustín Oapan, in Guerrero. He’s currently producing a documentary about Víctor Terán’s work to preserve the Isthmus Zapotec language.