Praise for Mexican Jenny and Other Poems

Are we the stories told about us, or the stories we tell ourselves? Barbara Brinson Curiel's Mexican Jenny, a fine, crazy quilt of a first book, is her wise and wistful reply. Gaze into the mirror of her lines long enough, and you may find yourself, blinking back. -- Cornelius Eady (Miller Family Chair, Professor of English and Theater, The University of Missouri-Columbia)
Barbara Curiel's poetry submerges us in the interior landscapes of the everyday and the mythic: the empty vessels of pots and cans blessed in a family kitchen, the wolf-blood-stained apron of Red Riding Hood's grandmother, a quilt stitched in a jail cell by a woman "mining gold / from the dirt of my life." At the heart of this collection which offers up an "Ars Domestica" of a poet's life is "Mexican Jenny," Curiel's imaginative re-telling of the story of Jenny Wenner, a prostitute convicted of killing her abusive husband in Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1913. This structure serves to remind us all how at the center of every "Mexican" woman's life are the undocumented lives of "ragged men buried daily in the mines / and women whose every mouthful depended / on what was brought to the surface." Here is an illuminating work that unearths and pays lyrical tribute to the labor of brown women across borders and other divides. -- Deborah Paredez (author of This Side of Skin and co-founder of CantoMundo)
Master poet Barbara Brinson Curiel wields all the stunning power and raw honesty for which she is best known. This collection is both delightful and unsettling, ranging from fables for a modern world to the hard-hitting title poem, "Mexican Jenny," to the incomparable and captivating slice of culture in poems like "Recipe: HInterland Tamales," with a spicy sprinkling of humor throughout. The language is direct -- bare and beautiful. In "Immigrant Partoum," Brinson-Curiel both follows religiously and simultaneously shatters and alters the form of a partoum, as immigrants' lives follow, reflect, shatter, and alter the form of a native community. A delicious dessert of poetry for the modern world -- and as full of surprises as it is of truth. Bravo to Brinson-Curiel's brave new world of poetry! -- Carmen Tafolla, Ph.D. (Poet Laureate, City of San Antonio)
Curiel's debut book of poetry, Speak to Me from Dreams (1989), prompted acclaimed poet Lucille Clifton to remark that "Curiel speaks to us from the richness of two languages but in one magical voice." This second book, a quarter-century in the making, marks Curiel's return to verse and affirms Clifton's early observation... A superb second book that hopefully signals more books to come from this smart and talented poet. -- Diego Báez, Booklist
Book Cover Goes Here
Cover: antique quilt, circa 1886. © Allen McDavid Stoddard/