Between the concept of the collection, that this is the bilingual edition, and that it has a short biography of the author, it's kind of a one stop shop for this great poet. Showcasing women who are at the edges of their ability to cope and in a variety of situations, this collection is also surprisingly relatable.
Gabriela Mistral is one of the Nobel Laureates for Literature and given the premise of challenging myself to Read Nobel Women, how can I not choose this one for her? It also helps that this totally counted as "a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love" for Read Harder 2017.
I am working on improving the amount of poetry I read, especially by women, and this is definitely my kind of poetry. Some of these women are mad, but that doesn't mean insane. They have been thwarted by life in a variety of situations and they aren't all hanging around in a lovesick stupor either, though some were in love. Even for those madwomen who were in love, that's not what the poem is about.
I read both versions of each poem, even though I understand Spanish anymore. I used to understand a lot when I was in a community that spoke it but I've lost so much of my vocabulary and the little grammar that I had begun to grasp, so I did it for nostalgia's sake more than anything else. I could pick out some words I had forgotten, and would read aloud sometimes so I can remember the cadence of some words, but it wasn't helpful for enjoying the book. But it was nice to get the bit of refresh for me.
There is a note from the translator, Randall Couch, who explained some of his process. As mentioned above, the beginning of this particular volume also includes a short herstory of the life of Mistral. It was interesting to read about how she grew up and the progress of her career, both in poetry and education. The inclusion of the biography really helped me to understand her place in the world and the impact of her poetry.
My favorite poem was Clytemnestra, who is a character from Greek mythology that I had never heard of. Altogether, the book has me convinced that I have been a madwoman and that it's okay and I'm not alone and every madwoman has a different story. If that's not a reason to check out this collection of poems, than I don't know what is.
Okay, okay, Read Harder 2017 and Nobel Women are good reasons too, but that's not the point. This is a great collection that any woman could relate to.