Grenade in Mouth: Some Poems of Miyó Vestrini

Grenade in Mouth: Some Poems of Miyó Vestrini

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Author: Miyó Vestrini

Editors: Faride Mereb and Elisa Maggi

Translators: Anne Boyer and Cassandra Gillig

Grenade in Mouth: Some Poems of Miyó Vestrini introduces to Anglophone readers the work of one of the vanguard voices of Venezuelan poetry with texts that cover three decades: from the year 1960 to 1990. The book offers a broader spectrum of her poems than ever previously compiled, including previously unpublished texts alongside her best known and most important works.

Critics have called Miyó Vestrini the poet of “militant death.” Vestrini is known, too, as the Sylvia Plath of Venezuela, but if she is a Plath, we think she is one who would have set Ted Hughes on fire.  And if Vestrini is a confessional poet, what she is confessing is not a set of personal problems: it is a fatal disappointment with the world at large. Her work is less a self-exposure than a set of  incantations.  These poems are spells for a death that might live eternally, for what Vestrini offers readers is a fundamental paradox: how to create, through writing, an enduring extinction.  Her poems are not soft or brooding laments.  They are bricks hurled at empires, ex-lovers, and any saccharine-laced lie that parades itself as the only available truth.

"Oh holy hell, this is good. . . . I’ve slowed down my reading of Grenade in Mouth to maybe a line or two at a time as I want it to last as long as possible. I’m also skipping around a bit so that there will be poems I missed to discover later. I’m laying the ground for my next pass. Vestrini is amazing. How can she be so breezy and so intense? How can she sound like someone you know and nobody you’ve ever read? How can this be so much about her world and ours? Translators Anne Boyer and Cassandra Gillig, in their super sharp Introduction, say, 'To translate Miyó Vestrini is like letting a deadly current pass through one’s body and hoping not to get hurt. To read Miyó Vestrini is much the same, and any introduction to her work must end with a warning: of course this is dangerous territory.' The work is, of course, as vital and energizing as it is deadly. It is wild and brilliant. Nobody should ask me to write another 'What I’m Reading Now' column for a while because I will still be reading this."

–Catherine Taylor