Words of Art
Edited & Translated by Rosa Alcala
Ugly Duckling Presse, $18.00, 341 pages
Spit Temple is an eye-catching title, and this collection of poems and performances by Cecilia Vicuna are also mind-catching. Reading the introduction by editor and translator Rosa Alcala does help to later read and feel the performances presented later on, which can otherwise seem too mysterious, and it sets the reader up in anticipation for the artist’s work to come. The prose-poems in the first section meet this anticipation; the first ones especially are very beautiful and deceptively simple. The poems are an autobiography and a kind of second introduction in addition to being works of art. She says of the books of various languages in her childhood home: “No one told me they were written in ‘other languages.’ I read and semi-understood them. Not understanding opened the door to other forms of imagining.” This magical and elastic attitude towards language is contagious, implanting itself outside of the book in the reader, and so Spit Temple accomplishes what I imagine a live performance would.
By Sarah Alibabaie