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Vatolandia unfolds in an arc of underlying myth reaching back to Popol Vuh, the Mayan creation story, ascending then bending down into the story of indigenous peoples since the conquistadors' invasion of the Maya all the way to those dreamers who run and swim across night borders to what some call the United States. Many of the poems are persona poems in the voices of the descendents of long ago beauty and happiness. Those voices embroider the pages as vividly as the embroidering I've seen on Mayan vests and blouses.
In Vatolandia, the land of the homies, life becomes the mythic life aborted, everything flattened and hardened into survival and doing anything to make it in the United States where money, not Popul Vuh's Heart of Sky, creates the human being. Again, Sayra Pinto is not one to play to the pretty. She writes it down in pure and relentless tropes and rhythms, enjambments and spaces, and the silences in between the words. 'Mother' is one poem that says it without saying it, and as with other poems wielding the impossible to say it is chilling to the core of the body's every atom. This is always an indication of great poetry: one feels it in the interior red clay of the flesh. (From the Introduction by Susan Deer Cloud)
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Sayra Pinto is a poet, scholar and activist dedicated to creative change. She is the author of two books of poetry, Pinol : Poems (Shabda Press, 2012) and Vatolandia (Foothills Publishing, 2012), and her work is included in the indigenous anthology, I Was Indian (Before Being Indian Was Cool) (Foothills Publishing, 2009). She has a B.A. from Middlebury College, an M.F.A. from Goddard College, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Union Institute & University. She lives outside Washington, D.C. with her partner, triplet girls, and two spoiled dogs.Review:
Do you want to be burned up? Do you want to be cooled? Do you want to lie down on the edge of something and never get up again? Do you want to live a different life? Do you want to get up and start walking, start singing, start dreaming in a community of radical others? Then read these poems. --Bhanu Kapil, author of Schizophrene
Sayra Pinto's weaving of words is subtle and strong, including placement of images and uses of tone that convey the quiet, choked sound of anyone who has been kicked around, hounded and hunted. She includes the voices of boys and young men viewed with distrust and treated as outcasts, and the presentation of various voices bespeaks her immense love for and understanding of the 'outsider' risking death on the desert, as in Nelson's story, 'Each taking a last stand for their dreams.' --Susan Deer Cloud, author of Braiding Starlight
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