In Tinisima (ISBN 0-8263-4123-3), this fictionalized account of the life of Tina Modotti (1896-1942), Poniatowska devoted ten years of research to fully understand the woman who was so caught up in the social and political turbulence of the pre-World War II decades. At different times in her life, Modotti was a silent screen actress, a model for Diego Rivera's murals, and a lover of photographer Edward Weston. She was also a champion for the Mexican people who lovingly referred to her as Tinisima. In 1929, Modotti was accused of the murder of Julio Antonio Mella, her Cuban lover. She fled to the U.S.S.R. to escape the Mexican press and then to Europe, where she became a Soviet secret agent and a nurse under an assumed name, returning to Mexico to meet an early death at the age of forty-five.
Last year, UNM Press republished her first book Lilus Kikus, which was first published in 1954. When it was first publsihed, it was labeled as a children's book because it had a young girl as protagonist, it included illustrations, and the author was an unknown woman. This is the first United States edition. It also includes four of Poniatowska's short stories with female protagonists, only one of which has been previously published in English.
Poniatowska is admired today as a feminist, but in 1954, when Lilus Kikus appeared, feminism didn't have broad appeal. Twenty-first-century readers will be fascinated by the way Poniatowska uses her child protagonist to point out the flaws in adult society. Each of the drawings by the great surrealist Leonora Carrington that accompany the chapters in Lilus Kikus expresses a subjective, interiorized vision of the child character's contemplations on life.
Sandra Cisneros plugs Poniatowska: “When I read Elena Poniatowska, I’m reminded why she’s my hero, why I write, what kind of writer I aspire to be. She’s not only an exquisite writer, she’s an extraordinary human being. It’s this humanity that make her writing soar.
Poniatowska has won various awards and has written over 50 books. Born in France to a Mexican citizen of French ancestry, she lives in Mexico City.
Poniatowska’s writing is also included in Responding to Crisis in Contemporary Mexico: The Political Writings of Paz, Fuentes, Monsivais, And Poniatowska (Hardcover) on Univ of Arizona Press published last fall. (ISBN 0816524912). The book is edited by Claire Brewster: “Regarded as among modern Mexico’s foremost creative writers, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Carlos Monsiváis, and Elena Poniatowska are also esteemed as analyzers of society, critics of public officials, and both molders and mirrors of public opinion. This book offers a reading of Mexican current affairs from 1968 to 1995 through a comparative study of these four writers’ political work."
HONORING TRINIDAD SANCHEZ, JR.
We will continue honoring Trinidad Sanchez, Jr. by posting some of his poems
LALO Y LOLA STAND TOGETHER
for Lalo and Lolo Delgado
porque han llegado a celebrar
los cincuenta años de amor
but they do not stand alone . . .
their familia, los nietos y bisnietos
los comadres, compadres y los poetas
locos de todo tamaño stand with them.
Fifty years of standing together has made
them like the double ll
the 12th letter of the Spanish alphabet,
a metáfora, la llamada a la felicidad.
Lo han hecho porque cada uno tiene
la llave del corazonazo de su amante.
They stand together
. . .
. . .
. . .
that have been around the barrio y han
dado sus vueltas más de cincuenta veces.
Lola y Lalo actually have the same name . . .
for if you switched the first two letters to the end
Lalo becomes Lola and Lola becomes Lalo!
They stand together despite the fact
they have only one “L” in their names.
They have kept their distinct personalities
and lived a life sin much llorar y llovizno;
pero seguro lo han tenido
porque el amor no crece en tierra seca.
Lola y Lalo cosejan, a los demás,
que es el llamamiento – the call for dialogue
that has kept them on their feet
para este momento sagrado.
Lalo y Lola stand together porque al fin,
como buen Mejicanos y Chicanos que son
entienden bien . . .
“Que es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.”