Bawdy Latina lesbian insurgent poet tatiana de la tierra is overdue for discovery

tatiana de la tierra died in Lengthy Seashore in 2012.

(Rotmi Enciso)

Nearly all of American readers are, sadly, unfamiliar with the identify tatiana de la tierra. By the use of introduction, right here is how the late author described herself within the essay “Aliens and Others”: “I am a fat, slightly bearded lesbian. A white Latina of Colombian extraction. A pagan lacking in Catholic guilt. A hedonist who knows shame. I have been diagnosed with lupus. Drive a pink and purple pickup. Collect rocks. Been poor most of my life. Knew gold-plated Gucci wealth for a few memorable years. I am a writer.”

De la tierra was born below a unique identify in Villavicencio, Colombia, in 1961, grew up in Miami and died in Lengthy Seashore, Calif., in 2012. She wrote fierce, bawdy, politically outspoken literature and edited among the first Latina lesbian publications distributed within the U.S. and Latin America. Although she herself by no means broke into the literary mainstream wherever, she wrote of and for writers on the margins of the margins in all places.

This fall, a Colombian writer has compiled her chapbooks and some different works right into a single assortment for the primary time below the title “Redonda y Radical.” With a bit of luck, that is only the start of a protracted posthumous profession.

Throughout her lifetime, de la tierra printed two professionally certain books. The primary was “For the Hard Ones: A Lesbian Phenomenology,” described as “A lesbian manifesto for hardcore dykes, baby dykes, and wanna-be lesbians.” A bilingual version was introduced again into print in 2018. Her different e-book, “Xia y las mil sirenas,” printed in Mexico in 2009, was a youngsters’s e-book about mermaids, lesbian moms and the facility of chosen household.

The overwhelming majority of her work, nonetheless, was self-published in the course of the 2000s in chapbooks below the moniker of Chibcha Press and distributed by hand at music festivals, lesbian gatherings and literary occasions. A few of these chapbooks discovered inspiration in publishing traditions all through Latin America — such because the strategies of the cooperative Eloísa Cartonera in Argentina, which started making handmade books with cardboard covers (cartoneras) after the financial disaster in 2001. A champion of self-publishing, de la tierra would recycle paper and scavenge cardboard, then embellish her cartoneras by hand, creating works that had been really one-of-a-kind.

Chapbooks by tatiana de la tierra made in the style of Argentinian "cartoneras."

Chapbooks by tatiana de la tierra made within the model of Argentinian “cartoneras.”

(tatiana de la tierra)

The writing itself was simply as singular — unassimilated and unafraid even by as we speak’s requirements. Her poem “Big Fat P— Girl” is an unabashed litany of reward of her genitalia, starting with “Queen-size c—” and piling on additional epithets: a “whaler of a c—,” a cruise ship, the World Huge Net, a Cadillac, a fortress, an eagle, Jupiter, the Library of Congress, Disney World and, lastly, “the Sonora Matancera of C—.” Her work isn’t all the time so specific, but it surely’s persistently attractive and hilarious.

It’s also distinctive in its therapy of bilinguality. Some authors use Spanish phrases solely when there isn’t a direct English equal. Others could select to fluctuate between English and Spanish in a manner that ensures it stays accessible to non-Spanish audio system. De la tierra would produce some works solely in Spanish, others solely in English and nonetheless others in Spanglish. She wrote with out concession to the borders of any language or nation.

Her writing was additionally as sonically wealthy as writing could be. She typically introduced devices to readings. On the musicality of her work, her mom, Fabiola Restrepo, mentioned, “I would read poetry to her, even when she was potty training. Well, more than read, I would recite to her. Rafael Pombo is one of the poets I would recite to her.” Fortunately, there are nonetheless recordings of de la tierra voicing her incantatory work.