cover image I Offer My Heart as a Target/Ofrezco mi corazón como una Diana

I Offer My Heart as a Target/Ofrezco mi corazón como una Diana

Johanny Vázquez Paz, trans. from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-617757-63-1

In the introduction to this piercing and timely exploration of gender, violence, and social justice, novelist, poet, and critic Rigoberto González writes: “The survivor speaks her truth, or rather, writes her way to truth as an avenue of expression.” As the book unfolds, readers witness the role of language in creating truth from a variety of aesthetic vantages, ranging from the philosophical to the image-driven: “To smoke in another language causes a cancer that spreads; first the lips, then the tongue,” Paz explains in “Diaspora of Words.” Throughout, she calls attention to language as a reason for those in power to exclude, and effectively disenfranchise, those individuals beneath them. Yet language also appears as a source of understanding, connection, and community: “We went to live to indulge the enemy/ to resist nights of storms and orphanhood to hear the silence of the lips/ sealed by the ignorance of the language.” To understand others, individuals must first learn how they organize, structure, and understand the world around them through language, Paz suggests. “Against all prognoses,/ we survive,” she proclaims in this moving book that, with Schimel’s skillful translation, highlights resilience in the face of oppression. (Dec.)