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Codex of Love: Bendita Ternura
Filled primarily with lyric poems, Valenzuela’s collection explores and celebrates the life of a
“Tejana from Mexico City/who ended up in the north/and raised her children here./But…never”
forgot that she is “del río Bravo, del río Grande,/y entre mesquites y magueyes/enton[a] [su]
canto.” The song that Valenzuela shares in this book is brought to the reader in five sections that
differ in tone and topics from erotic poems that celebrate sex and sexuality to prose poems that
explore motherhood and serial poems that delve into spirituality. Plus, each poem is presented in English and Spanish which enables the bilingual reader to enjoy the poems twice-over and at a
deeper level. Yet, monolingual readers still experience the vibrant rhythms and cadence of Valenzuela’s work. She takes all readers, no matter how many languages they speak, on a journey that is “an act of faith/a leap into the unknown,” and one that readers will enjoy immensely.
—Celeste Guzmán Mendoza, author of Beneath the Halo and CantoMundo co-founder
Puro Amor by Sandra Cisneros
PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature
Sandra Cisneros has a fondness for animals and this little gem of a story makes that abundantly clear. “La casa azul,” the cobalt blue residence of Mister and Missus Rivera, overflows with hairless dogs, monkeys, a fawn, a “passionate” Guacamaya macaw, tarantulas, an iguana, and rescues that resemble “ancient Olmec pottery.” Missus loves the rescues most “because their eyes were filled with grief.” She takes lavish care of her husband too, a famous artist, though her neighbors insist he has eyes for other women: “He’s spoiled.” “He’s a fat toad.” She cannot reject him. “…because love is like that. No matter how much it bites, we enjoy and admire the scars.” Thus, the generous creatures pawing her belly, sleeping on her pillow, and “kneeling outside her door like the adoring Magi before the just-born Christ.” This beautiful chapbook is bilingual and contains several illustrations—line drawings by Cisneros herself.