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The San Juan Star
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Variations on Poetry
by Eugene H. Mohr

[...] A completely different kind of poetry is represented by Chloé S. Georas's rediviva: lost in trance . lations (Libros Nómadas, 2001). Georas was born in Texas and raised and educated in Puerto Rico. She is equally comfortable in Spanish and English, and one theme of this bilingual collection is the nature and limitations of translation. For Georas language is more than just a tool of communication. It becomes and object in itself, what color is to the painter and sound to the musician. It also conveys meaning, but this function is in constant tension with its power to generate beauty, humor and intellectual stimulation on its own.

What may be called the content of Georas's poems, the part that can be paraphrased, is also different from the type of communication described above. Georas deals less with experience than with concepts, and these concepts are not necessarily shared by the reader; they may even be difficult to access. The poet is aware of this and has provided a "postface" to guide the reader through some of her basic ideas and show how they fit into the book's structure.

She begins with the word rediviva, which "has many meanings, among which are ghost, a revived person, and [...] someone who resembles a deceased person, a resemblance that transcends the necessity of biological links." This definition is essential to an understanding of the poet's exploration "of a migratory subjectivity inscribed in a body as a crossroads of historical, cultural, linguistic, emotional and spatial flows." Nomadic movements outside the conventional constraints of space and time "oppose the fossil with its overdose of history to the gene (or newborn) with its mythology of origin." Explanations of this sort do not, are not intended to, simplify poems which, like these, combine hard intellectual concepts with an exhilarating play of imagination. But they enable us to respond intelligently to lines and passages which might otherwise elude us.

Most readers will probably be first struck by Georas's juxtapositioning of ideas, particularly in the areas of birth, death, survival, rediscovery of self. The poet sees herself as an "archeologist excavating in search of her own body," which leads to the concept -a wonderfully playful blend of science and fantasy- that "los genes son fósiles que resucitan en otros cuerpos." The fossil metaphor, with its connotations of death and rebirth, appears in a variety of contexts, nowhere more poignantly than in the poem to the mothers of Plaza de Mayo: "we are wandering gravestones with a fossil in every womb."

There are other metaphors in rediviva suggesting change, flux, rootlessness. But Georas also has excellent moments in simple descriptions of nature. In the (N)everglades she "watched a white egret become opalescent/ as it crosscut a rainbow for an instant/ leaving a lifeless gray arch in its wake." She can also switch into a surrealist mode when needed: "a vine of screams and hands climbs the vertebrae of your pupils."

The poems of rediviva are not light reading. But for the stout of heart, and 'sesos,' they are a stimulating introduction to a bright new talent.

The San Juan Star, Monday, May 28, 2001

other reviews:


El Cuarto del Quenepón

El Nuevo Día