Scylla & Charybdis

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Mina Polen’s Scylla and Charybdis is one of the most extraordinary poem cycles I have read in recent years. It expresses something essential about Mexico, its people, its politics, its darkly dazzling dreams, using ancient myths to illuminate a complex contemporary world.

The synthesis of the real and the imaginary in Mina’s work locates her in a vibrant Latin American tradition that has produced the likes of Octavio Paz and Alejandra Pizarnik. Her work is surrealist in the hallucinatory power of its words, images, patterns. Nothing feels contrived, nothing is forced. Her imagination interacts with Mexico, transforms it, reveals it, makes us see it afresh.

As the title suggests, this book is full of monsters. Not toothless literary creations that melt at dawn, but the real monsters ravaging Mexico: capitalism, drugs, crime, a corrupt government, impotence, apathy. Despite this, the word “hope” rises from the pages, forms strange clouds. Every reader will see something different in those misty shapes.

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You can buy Mina’s book here.

Text and image are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved.

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