‘Codex of Love: Bendita Ternura’ Is Mexican-American Writer Liliana Valenzuela’s Latest Project

The Austin-based poet reads a poem dedicated to her daughter.

By Joy DiazFebruary 26, 2018 2:21 pm| ,

Liliana Valenzuela is a poet and writer from Mexico City who lives in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of ¡Ahora Sí!, the Spanish-language publication of the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

In the player above, Valenzuela reads a poem from her new book, “Codex of Love: Bendita Ternura.” It is dedicated to her daughter Sophie.

One of Valenzuela’s most acclaimed works is “On the Eve of Becoming an American Citizen”, a bilingual English-Spanish poem which won the Austin International Poetry Festival’s Christina Sergeyevna Award in 1999.

On the Eve of Becoming an American Citizen

Not me, not I

a gringa I would never be

gritos de “muera el Imperialismo yanqui

resonando en mi cabeza

yo, la Malinche,

“there is always me-search in research”

going full circle

me an American a Mexican-American

a bona fide Chicana chayote-head

My life is here now

raising my bilingual chipayates

Married, metida hasta las chanclas

In this brave new world.

A binational

una Nutella bicolor

vainilla y chocolate

dual citizenship, at least,

los políticos en México finally woke up

to us “raza” on this side of the border

Welcome Paisano, Bienvenido Amigo,

Hasta que se les prendió el foco, cabrones.

Ahora sí, pásenle, que su nopal está lleno de tunas.

Aquí en la frontera, en el no-man’s-land,

mujer puente, mujer frontera,

mujer Malinche.

Ahora sí, cuando me chiflen por la calle

Me podrán decir “gringüita” y por primera vez

Lo seré, una bolilla, una gabacha,

Mis ojos azules y cabello rubio por fin

Corresponderán a los estereotipos de la gente

“But you don’t look Mexican…”

Enton’s qué parezco? Acaso tengo changos en la cara?

When I die, spread my ashes along the Rio Grande, the

Rio Bravo, where I once swam naked

Valenzuela is an award-winning poet and translator whose work has been published in The Edinburgh Review, Indiana Review, Tigertail, among other publications.