elegía/elegy

elegía/elegy. Anomalous Press, 2018.

 

Elegía/elegy is baptized by queer loss and losing. Each section deifies lost cuir/queer loves, closing the distance between deity (queer icon) and fam. The book delves into the (im)possibility of building between lo cuir boricua and the queerness of being boricua in the diaspora. It invites the reader to “learn to tell the difference between our love and theirs,” and to see, in this difference, a way forward.

“Like all of Raquel Salas Rivera’s books elegía/elegy begins with the premise that all the poems within will have their mirrored Spanish and English versions. This is a lie. You’ll find quickly that there are holes between both versions, that the languages are playing tricks between each other, that they are trying to fool you into seeing something bigger and more disturbing. To build their bilingual world on the page, Salas Rivera makes embraces between two nothings, threading gaps. This bilingual world is not the cute fantasy of Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, it is the truer and more precarious world of an American colony on the brink of change.”

—Gabriel Ojeda-Sague, author of Oil and Candle

 

There is no limit to the grief that lies within Raquel Salas Rivera’s elegía/elegy, a collection that transforms the lament into something porous, which moves between cuir and queer, huequitos and holies, el abrazo and the embrace. For the poet, translation of these terms is lateral, not suited for the comfort of the complicit reader, and always a vehicle for a more complicated mourning. This grief is not spectacle for within it is also the audacity of pleasure, which declares, ‘nos llevaré a tumba predilecta y nos hare el amor’/’i’ll take us to the favorite tomb and make us love after’ and would rather be ‘con tu melancolía estupenda’/ ‘with your stupendous melancholy’ than without. Where the colonial impulse to memorialize, to make the dead still and silent, elegía/elegy is the cry that remembers its vitality. It refuses to forget the U.S.’ active exploitation of Puerto Rico and the losses of IVÁN TRINIDAD COTTO and SOPHIA ISABEL MARRERO CRUZ. The grief circuit, in which the pain is at once personal and political, moves around and around, and in each linguistic turn leaves an untranslatable mark that comes close to saying, ‘see my nothingness not just yours, but ours, but mine. be cuir with me even when you are queer with me.'”

—Muriel Leung, author of Bone Confetti

 

“When I read Raquel Salas Rivera’s elegía/elegy, I find myself interrogating my own reading praxis and trying to elevate it from a practice of consumption, to one of empathy, being-with, and love. This elevation is one of many that decolonization requires. Rivera makes ‘holies of all things,’ from the tiniest intimate repetitions that are the foundations of queer relationships, to the act of remembering the people who die at the hands of colonial violence and systemic erasure. Who among us cries for Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz and Iván Trinidad Cotto? Why? The core questions of this book don’t demand our immediate answer or understanding. They demand vulnerability.”

—Candace Williams, author of Spells for Black Wizards