Natalie Diaz (Graywolf Press 2020)
Who? What? Where?
Natalie Diaz, a queer Mojave poet, creates work of art in her latest publication, Postcolonial Love Poem. Her poems seamlessly move from realism to the fantastic, she writes about love in all its forms. What it means to love and unlove. The Mojave or Aha Makav, have experienced a double colonization, that of the Spanish and later the Anglo settlers of the United States. In Postcolonial Love Poem, colonialism is a constant specter, for all things have been impacted by its logic. She explores the body as a place of life and simultaneously the site of the colonial wound. Diaz encourages simultaneous readings throughout the text, incorporating multiple languages without fanfare, she works along the borderlands of language. She calls the reader into the text through her vivid imagery and range of emotions her words evoke. Below are some of my personal favorites from the collection:
“These Hands, If Not Gods”
“They Don’t Love you Like I Love You”
“10 Reasons Why Indians are good at Basketball”
Among the most impactful theme’s of the book are Diaz’s: exploration of the body, wound(s), and translation. The body is a recurring theme throughout her poems, featured as a place of love, a site of nature, and heavily focuses on the hip and all its purposes. The concept of wound surfaces throughout, in connection to colonialism as well as in relation to her brother. Lastly, translation is used to create polysemic meanings throughout. Diaz unearths that which is untranslatable, combines the use of words from multiple languages, and situates the body within these translations. One example of her translations is her use of the song Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in her poem “They Don’t Love You Like I Love You”. Diaz lifts the lyrics from the song and translates them in a new context, specific to her experience, creating a palimpsest of new meanings. Diaz’s whole collection is largely a palimpsest, creating and recreating love and its meanings in the postcolonial.
Check out the Author’s website: https://www.nataliegermainediaz.com/
A conversation with the author about her work: https://theadroitjournal.org/issue-thirty-two/natalie-diaz-interview/
Diaz reads “Manhattan is a Lenape Word”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEGxc9ZeCPk