By Irma Pineda
Translated by Wendy Call
These poems tell a story of separation and displacement in two narrative voices: a person who has migrated, without papers, to the United States for work, and their partner who waits at home in southern Mexico.
Publication Date: January 16, 2024
Nostalgia Doesn’t Flow Away Like Riverwater / Xilase qui rié di’ sicasi rié nisa guiigu’ / La Nostalgia no se marcha como el agua de los ríos is a trilingual collection by one of the most prominent Indigenous poets in Latin America, Irma Pineda, set in the poet’s hometown of Juchitán, Oaxaca.
Irma Pineda is the author of ten books of bilingual Didxazá/Spanish poetry and two volumes of poetry in Spanish. She is also the translator of several Didxazá/ Spanish books and a collaborator or co-editor of several anthologies. Her poems have been translated into ten languages and published throughout Europe and the Americas. Her 2018 collection, Naxiña’ Rului’ ladxe’ – Rojo Deseo, won Mexico’s Caballo Verde Prize, awarded for the year’s best book of poetry. Together with Wendy Call, she won the 2022 John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize for Translation, awarded by the Poetry Foundation. Pineda is a professor of intercultural education at the Ixtepec, Oaxaca, campus of Mexico’s Universidad Pedagógica Nacional. Between 2018 and 2021 she served as a senior advisor for education, cultural issues, and science for the Mexican Federal Legislature. From 2020 through 2022 she served as Vice President of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, one of two representatives for all the Indigenous peoples of Latin America. She lives in her hometown of Juchitán, Oaxaca.
Wendy Call translated Irma Pineda’s In the Belly of Night and Other Poems, published in 2022 by Pluralia/Eulalia, and wrote the award-winning nonfiction book No Word for Welcome: The Mexican Village Faces the Global Economy (Nebraska, 2011). She has co-edited two anthologies: Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide (Penguin, 2007) and Best Literary Translations (Deep Vellum, 2024). Her translations of poetry by Indigenous Latin American women have been supported by the Fulbright Commission, Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University, and National Endowment for the Arts. Call teaches creative nonfiction in Pacific Lutheran University’s MFA program. She lives in southeast Seattle, on Duwamish land, and in Oaxaca City, on Mixtec and Zapotec land.
“Poetry not only summons and invokes, it also warns and, above all, keeps us company. Juchiteca poet Irma Pineda knows this well. For her, poetry is living and collective memory, a magnetized concentration of human and non-human traces that also connect diasporic communities and shed light on what is to come. Poetry’s shelter and guidance are never more essential than when crossing the US-Mexico border, that migration route where danger and solidarity, as well as vulnerability and courage, combine . . . [in] a story of multi-layered experience that accretes within us as we leave, and we change, and we return once again.” —Cristina Rivera Garza, author of Liliana’s Invincible Summer and No One Will See Me Cry
“Poetry is what cannot be silenced. Irma Pineda’s extraordinary collection— in resonant Isthmus Zapotec and Spanish, lucidly translated into precise English by Wendy Call—surveys the echoes of a universal journey across space, time, and language. We are in the hands of a consummate poet through whose vision an entire civilization comes alive. Her protagonists follow the path of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Neruda. An artistic triumph!” —Ilan Stavans, author of Popol Vuh: A Retelling and editor of The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry