Sunday, 1 March 2015

Poem notes: Coyolxauhqui


37 years has passed since the Coyolxauhqui's monolith was found in Mexico City, so I thought it was the ideal time to write some notes on a poem that was recently published in Stone Telling, a speculative poetry magazine edited by Rose Lemberg and Shweta Narayan. "Coyolxauhqui" is free to read and listen –there's an audio version I recorded!– in the ST site.

  • This was my first poem sale ever and the first one I wrote in English. I was quite dubious about it (I still am, actually). Besides I'm not as comfortable with poetry as I am with short stories. But as José Luis Zárate, a Mexican SFF writer, used to say: "I'm not a poet and I have the poems to prove it."
  • Reverberations, ST issue 11, features only poets that were new to the magazine. I'm thrilled to share ToC with amazing new writers like M Sereno.
Stone Telling 11 cover

  • I was researching on Aztec gods for a short story when I stumbled upon Coyolxauhqui. I remembered the story of how she became the goddess of the Moon, but also the story of how her monolith was found. I thought it would be cool to have the myth and the facts mixed in a single text. How I ended up writing a poem instead of a short story? I'm not sure yet.
    • Coyolxauhqui and her 400 siblings (the southern stars) were furious because her mother Coatlicue (the Earth) had just been impregnated by a bundle of feathers. They considered it a disgrace and decided to kill her. But the new brother, Huitzilopochtli, was born with an adult body and fully armoured in order to protect his mother. Coyolxauhqui was murdered and dismembered: her body was thrown down a mountain and her head was tossed to the sky were it became the Moon.
    • This mythical story was very important for Aztec rituals of human sacrifice since Coyolxauhqui herself represented the victims. Her big monolithic stone was placed at the bottom of the stairs of Huitzilopochtli's temple in Templo Mayor were sacrifices were held and remained there for 500 years, untouched by the Spanish conquest.
    • In the wee hours of the morning of February 21, 1978, workers of the electric power company discovered a big, carved stone while digging for subterranean cable work. There she was, Coyolxauhqui, naked and fragmented, covered by a layer of soil; an 8 tons, 3 m in diameter goddess. Her discovery triggered the excavations project of Templo Mayor and many wonders of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan that are hidden under Mexico City.
"Coyolxāuhqui" by Drini - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

  • That idea of the Aztec deities emerging from the subterranean world into the modern Mexico City was represented by making constant allusions to the Mexico City Metro.
  • The Spanish lines in poem weren't originally translated. I added their English versions after my beta reader told me it would be kind of confusing for non-Spanish speakers. I ended up adding slashes in between both versions and I liked that outcome since I felt that my language had been slashed, just as Coyolxauhqui herself.
  • I know Rhysling nomination period is over, but I was quite happy that Lisa M. Bradley considered this poem in her eligibility post :).
  • As I said before, I'm not a poet, but I've been reading some speculative pieces of poetry that are amazing and that, definitely, make me want to write more.


Friday, 2 January 2015

Tove 100: Moomin, Little My and me

*** This text was written on December 31st, 2014***

Tove Jansson (1914-2001) would have been 100 in 2014. I couldn't think of wrapping up the year without writing some lines about her and, of course, the Moomins.

Let me say that I've spent several months trying to write this post and I've failed horribly each time. What can I say that hasn't been said about Tove. That she was a wonderful queer person? That she was great as an artist and as an author? Others have told the story of her life in a better way than I could. How to make a homage in her centenary? By remembering what Moomins taught us about friendship, freedom and life? ('cause others have said that too)

These words will be sloppy and, maybe, a little nonsensical, but full of love. Because, if there's something a learnt from Tove is that: to love.

© Moomin Characters™

'twas the 90's and, as I attended elementary school, I was a moderately weird girl who liked watching German cartoons and puppetsBasque movies, as well as Eastern European and Russian animations in the cultural channel. There's where I met the Moomins anime. (I loved "regular," popular cartoons too, of course. Note that I wrote "moderately weird")

How amazed I was by all the characters that inhabited Moomin Valley. Somehow it reminded me of the town I lived for the first 4 years of my life next to La Marquesa national park. They weren't similar places at all except for having a forest and cold weather in winter, but they had something that was almost the same: the blue Moomin house was my grandparents home and I was Little My... well, almost.

Like the Moomins, I grew up surrounded by that warm feeling of food being cooked, of a big table full of people –my family–, of stories and love. There were also a couple of hemulens and fillyjonks around, but that happens with every family, I guess. Since I was the littlest in size and age (as well as kind of grumpy sometimes :p) I identified with Little My as soon as I saw her. But soon I realised that I wasn't fearless and adventurous as her. I, then, wished to be more like her when I grew up.

© Moomin Characters™

Years and series reruns passed and I was more in love with that Finn family, despite not having read their proper printed stories since Spanish translations were quite expensive and hard to find in Mexico and my English wasn't good enough to read children's books.

I finally got to read Moomin books and The Summer Book in the mid 2000's and my life brightened. All those great feelings of my childhood came back to me all of a sudden and I laughed and frolicked and laid on my bed watching the clouds, hoping for them to be from the magician's hat and just then, with the wind on my face, I cried the death of Tove.

I spent the entire 2014 thinking about how the world is a happier, more beautiful place thanks to Tove. I also thought about her and how gloom things were for her sometimes because of the war and how it affected her family, or because of being gay in a non-diverse society. But I like better to imagine her painting and writing in her island with Tuulikki, both happy and beautiful under the northern sun.

Thanks for everything, Tove.

***

I wanted to become as cool and fearless as Little My. Instead I grew up to be a weird version of Moominmamma, but that's ok, you know. I still am Little My-sized, though.