“I might attempt to define these books,” Dolores Dorantes writes in the preface to Dolores Dorantes, “as reflections of excitement, massacre and peaceful silence in the aftermath of devastation . . . What does clearly emerge from all of this, for me, is a war.”
What use is poetry in a war zone?
the silence where
In the cacophonous and silenced geography of difficulty, brutality, absence, rupture – in the givens of a world organised around injustice – every word is wordlessness. No word remains whole; there is no single statement of fact or feeling. The tools most readily at our disposal, whatever those might be, are not sufficient to the tasks at hand, whatever those might be.
Maybe . . .
to forget how
Dorantes’ work invites us to “forget how” in order to reinvent not just how, but what, and with whom. “More than a witness,” writes Christopher Winks in Jacket, “Dorantes enacts and embodies the Guyanese poet Martin Carter’s observation that ‘all are involved, all are consumed’ . . . hers is a poetry of affinity as well as resistance.”
Dorantes lived and worked in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico for twenty-five years. She has written countless articles, blog posts, and opinion pieces as an investigative reporter and cultural critic working with newspapers such as El Diario de Juárez, El Norte, and Día Siete; she has run a used bookstore and workshop space out of her home; she has taught autobiographical writing to groups of marginalized women. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches writing workshops and documents the lives of exiles through the website Proyecto Sur Los Ángeles as well as maintaining a personal blog.
Venezuelan poet Guillermo Parra recognises in Dorantes’ work “familiar zones of uncertainty, dread, optimistic moments of love filtered through (or is it beyond?) the seep of daily news, empire, transnational capital, self-doubts . . . [in] visionary [work] whose absent parts reclaim the author and haunt the reader.” Dorantes’ writing is haunting – pain (dolor) and sorrow (dolores) are unavoidable in our world – and it is also fearlessly illuminating, providing recalibrated vision and an adventurous, unsentimental approach to language, to thinking, to relating. We forget how in order to reinvent how.
Poemas para niños, Ediciones El Tucán de Virginia, Mexico City, 1999
Para Bernardo: un eco, MUB editoraz, Ciudad Juárez, 2000
Lola (cartas cortas), Fondo Editorial Tierra Adentro, CONACULTA, Mexico City, 2002
sexoPUROsexoVELOZ, Lapzus, Oráculo, Montevideo, 2004
Estilo, Mano Santa Editores, Guadalajara, 2011
Querida fábrica, Práctica Mortal, CONACULTA, Mexico City, 2012 (forthcoming)
sexoPUROsexoVELOZ and Septiembre, A Bilingual Edition of Books 2 and 3 of Dolores Dorantes by Dolores Dorantes (trans. Jen Hofer), Counterpath Press and Kenning Editions, Denver and Chicago, 2008
Dolores Dorantes by Dolores Dorantes, Books 1–4 (trans. Jen Hofer), Kenning Editions, Chicago, 2012 (forthcoming)