In writing as tough as it is visionary, Mariela Dreyfus scores the “landscape / both real and dreamed” and summons a haunting lyric choreography, in conversation with everyone from César Vallejo and Carlos Oquendo de Amat to Mallarmé, Pina Bausch, and the Afro-Peruvian drum. This notebook contains notes from many undergrounds (Lima, New York, the self), developing processually into an expansive poetics of pain, thirst, flight, the mother’s womb, the girl’s rebellion, the lover’s body, the burning city. Translator Gabriel Amor honors the pulsing rhythms of the poet’s aural daydream without sacrificing the elegance of her knotty syntax, its “prenatal impulse” in search of “the memory of a harmony that / predates us.” Music Notebook is a major work by an essential poet of our Latin American New York.
Mariela Dreyfus’s music is elegiac and arresting; this volume carries us across the oceanic rhythm of this important volume of her sensual work. Dreyfus is one of the most significant Peruvian poets of this century. I’m thrilled to see the melancholy of grief enacted in “the beauty of gestures” in this important and necessary work.
Death and Eros haunt this book as dramatically as they haunt our lives. Music Notebook begins with the unpunctuated description of the birth of a corpse and, with a quick nod toward Cesar Vallejo, Dreyfus’ compatriot Peruvian poet, a prayer for some redemptive word. In the endeavor “to recall your melody,” the poet flees “from the unnamable” toward “that musical / language interweaving” bodies, “the joy / of your rhythmic polyrhythms,” an intimacy that comes into being only when we “synchronize our beats.” Although Mariela Dreyfus writes powerful, restlessly churning poems concerned with childhood, familial strife, and mother-care, her most searing poems are intensely erotic. Their signal physicality grants us, in Gabriel Amor’s devoted translation, a kind of instinctual, primordial wisdom that has durance as it welds body and word.
ABOUT THE AUTOR
Mariela Dreyfus (Lima, 1960) is the author of seven collections of poetry: Memorias de Electra (Electra’s memory), Placer fantasma (Phantom pleasure) (winner of the National Poetry Award from the Asociación Peruano-Japonesa), Ónix (Onyx), Pez (Fish), Morir es un arte (Dying is an art), Cuaderno músico precedido de Morir es un arte (Music notebook preceded by dying is an art), and La edad ligera (Light age). She has also published the book of essays Soberanía y transgresión: César Moro (Sovereignty and transgression: Cesar Moro) and co-edited the essay collections Nadie sabe mis cosas. Reflexiones en torno a la poesía de Blanca Varela (Nobody knows my things. Reflections on Blanca Varela’s poetry), and Esta mística de relatar cosas sucias. Ensayos en torno a la obra de Carmen Ollé (This mystique of telling dirty things. Essays on Carmen Ollé’s works). In 2014 she was named “Personalidad Meritoria de la Cultura” (Distinguished Personality of Culture) by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture for her contribution to poetry. She is a professor of creative writing in Spanish at New York University. This is her first book published in English in the United States.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Gabriel Amor was born in Galicia, Spain and grew up in New York. His translation publications include Juana I by Ana Arzoumanian, which received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant, Becoming Marta by Lorea Canales, and The Dead Don’t Dream by Rubén Sánchez Féliz. He was a producer on the Emmy-nominated documentary The Woman Who Wasn’t There. He currently teaches at Columbia University, Pace University, Hunter College, and Fordham University.