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Imaginación Poética y Crisis Social en la Poesía Mexicana Contemporánea


This dissertation is a study of three recent books by contemporary Mexican authors born in the

1970s. The dissertation examines the relationship between textual strategies and the ongoing

social and political crisis of the last two decades in Mexico, in the work of the poets María

Rivera, Heriberto Yépez and Dolores Dorantes. In my reading, these works present the reader

with new and radical ways of understanding the relationship between literature and society, and

more particularly, between poetry and politics. Together, they also represent an important

critique of the cultural and poetic legacy of figures like the late poet Octavio Paz.

The first chapter focuses on the work of the poet María Rivera, particularly her two poems, "Los

muertos" (2011) and "Oscuro" (2017). I propose that the "anomalous poetics" proposed by

Rivera serves as a vehicle for a double criticism. On the one hand, she questions the hegemonic

notion of a type of cosmopolitan and seemingly atemporal literature, a notion established largely

by the late poet Octavio Paz, under whom Rivera herself was formed. On the other hand, she also

questions the implicit agreements through which contemporary literary communities are

constituted. At the textual level, this critique translates into the emergence of thematic and

formal elements that account for a markedly political new poetics on the horizon of

contemporary Mexican literature. The second part of the chapter is dedicated to the poem "Los

muertos", written in 2011, the historical importance of which lies in having been one of the first

poems to openly break with the literary silence around the escalation of violence caused by

militarization. The systematic use of textual strategies such as repetition and lists in the poem not

only makes visible the countless dead and disappeared in Mexico over the last two decades, but

it also problematizes the supposed linearity and continuity with which Mexican history has been

perceived. That is, the poem formally interrupts a historical "filiative" vision of the nation, based

on the continuity of alleged symbolic and ethnic elements. Instead, the poem articulates an

"affiliate" totality founded on affinity and empathy between diverse groups.

The second chapter studies the book Transnational Battle Field (2017) by the poet Heriberto

Yépez. The chapter pays attention especially to the modalities with which the author explores

social antagonisms and some of the transformations in subjectivity derived from neoliberalism.

The transnational lens that Yépez has employed in his entire work is also present in

Transnational Battle Field, a book that was written directly in English. This focus opens other

avenues of reflection beyond the national context within which a large part of recent literary

works thematize contemporary violence and social crisis. In dialogue with the decolonial

thinking of Frantz Fanon, Yépez invites the reader to recognize the social praxis that is

potentially present in works of art; such praxis is able to generate and question critical

subjectivities, and question the current cultural, linguistic and aesthetic homogenization at a

transnational level.

The third and final chapter analyzes the book Estilo by the poet Dolores Dorantes. Her book

textually displays affects and images that, in my reading, mimic and represent economic

processes that inform the ongoing climate of violence against poor working-class women in the

U.S.-Mexico border area. For Dorantes and contemporary thinkers like Silvia Federici, violence

against women must be understood as an expression that goes beyond the cultural, and that

points to a complex knot of violent economic change derived from the transformation of capital

worldwide. Dorantes' book captures and represents elements that suggest phenomena such as

population displacement, the attack on working women and the production of value through

labor exploitation. Circulating within a landscape of contemporary misogynistic imaginary, as

well as a series of economic processes, with the use of a "nosotras" that articulates the poetic

voice of the book, Dorantes criticizes the notion of a traditional and unified lyrical subject that is

still predominant in Mexican literature.

This dissertation represents an invitation to read a group of contemporary works that imagine and

build a radical relationship between contemporary textualities, political and poetic imaginations

and social crisis.

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