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This review is taken from PN Review 198, Volume 37 Number 4, February - March 2011.

DOS CASAS Mexican Poetry Today: 20/20 Voices, edited Brandel France de Bravo (Shearsman) £12.95

The poets brought together in this anthology are described as the 'post-Paz' generation. In many ways, they do show Paz's influence, though this is not to say they are derivative. Rather, a fruitful exchange of ideas is at play: these writers variously update, challenge, and confirm Paz's definitions of the nature (and nurture) of the Mexican in The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950). In Paz's formulation, Mexico is an adolescent nation which cannot progress to adulthood, and the primary characteristics of the Mexican (introversion, self-doubt masked by posturing) parallel the national theme.

One of the spurring factors behind Paz's analysis is colonialism. Natalia Toledo, who writes in Zapotec, captures its thefts and disinheritances in 'Xcu badudxaapa' huiini'' ('Child with Roots'):

I have a photo in sepia
with eyes full of water and a flower on her lips
someone entered that photo
and yanked up the flower by the root.

Other poets reflect on orphan-hood: lost parents feature, and, in the poems of Elva Macías, the flotsam of identity is traced:

Of my other lives I remember only
that my plough once struck the ritual stone
that I worshipped, trembling.

And my humble labours were traded
so I became the woman to nurse you.

More proactively (if with less poetic force), Gloria Gervitz writes in 'I Shaharit' of the daily grind of self-invention 'that begins every morning as I ...


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