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This review is taken from PN Review 162, Volume 31 Number 4, March - April 2005.

MEXICAN WAVE Sin puertas visibles. An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Mexican Women, bilingual, edited and translated by Jen Hofer
(University of Pittsburgh Press / Ediciones Sin Nombre) $22.50

Jen Hofer has compiled a curious anthology. Instead of relying on reputation and literary gossip, she put an ad in magazines and cultural centres all over Mexico, and made her independent selection. Had a Mexican poet put an anthology together, we would have had a partisan, polemical, generational confrontation of poets. Jen Hofer has avoided an endemic disease of literary life, and critics will not be able to complain that so-and-so was omitted, because Hofer has not aimed at representation. We are guided solely by her literary tastes. She whittled her women poets down to eleven, born between 1959 and 1973 from around Mexico, and has given them sufficient space to glimpse an oeuvre beyond the individual poems.

Obviously, what links these poets is being Mexican women. Many work in higher education or are journalists, all have university degrees, and all write in the shadow of the great male tradition, dominated by Octavio Paz, though most could be his literary grand daughters. If this anthology is aimed at US readers (Hofer lives in California), then the stereotypes of anonymous Mexican workers is confronted by these thinking poets, making sense of being Mexican women, of living in or avoiding its mutating megacity, its painful proximity and exposure to the US. The title - without visible doors - suggests crossing thresh-olds, open access into the house of language, the porous poem.

Formally, there is variety. We have unrhymed sonnets, quasi haiku, Whitmanesque free verse and prose ...


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