• Vigilance

Sex/Gender Dissidence in Mexican Poetry: Three Young Female Poets.

Updated: 2 days ago

By: BLEEP! LAB

Text: Sara Andraca

English Translation by: Sara Andraca & Karen Moe

Poems recited by: Karen Moe

Clips: Danielle Franco


We are the wild beasts in the night's scent.

Pat Sánchez Ponti

In Art History, women have endured a double invisibility: we have been systematically excluded from the study and practice of arts and only a privileged few have been allowed access to this knowledge; female creators lack the space to display our creative work, little is spoken about our artwork and our talent is constantly underrated.


Literary studies includes very few female authors, and there is a large gap when we talk specifically about poetry by women that navigates, resists and creates from experiences of sexogeneric dissidence. [1]


In Mexico, poetry holds an important position; it is well-respected and has been practiced since pre-Hispanic times. Nevertheless, the reading of poetry is reserved for the cultural elite who are essentially misogynist and homophobic. Hence, homosexuality hasn’t been addressed except in a ridiculed, censored or perverted way. It was not until the sexual revolution of the 60s that poetry by women started to be explored in a more open, human, and profound manner.


In this context, however, lesbians still suffer from a double discrimination because of not only their gender, but also their sexual preference. Even inside the LGBTQ+ art community, the cisgender male experience is still predominant. We can’t even begin to discuss the work of transexual writers yet because their visibility is so new.

Even though Mexican poetry written by lesbians represents a good amount of the genre in the Spanish language, media attention and academic visibility remains very small. The presence of trans voices is even less because, due to their recent visibility both culturally and in the poetry scene, very few have been documented. However, because of the expansion of the Internet over the last two decades, self-publishing has become a way to access trans voices. The self-managed publications that circulate on the Internet, as well as in fanzines, are the main formats for trans literature. These fringe publications defy the canon and overcome the obstacles that publishers impose, which also do not publish enough women and usually diminish the sexogeneric dissidence’s arts poetica. Mainstream publishers consider the poetry of sexogeneric dissidence more political than aesthetic because, through a radicalization of language that focuses on the confessional and the personal, poetry by women and LQBTQ+ writers is viewed as more propaganda than art and, thereby, a threat to the institutionalization of heterosexism.


While it is true that writing from the experiences of “the woman condition”—

starting from the metaphysical emptiness we are subjected to by the systematic violence inflicted upon us—is to reassert ourselves as a political entity; it is also true that women’s poetry is written outside of the literary canon through the anecdotal, the body, the inner world, the domestic space, violence, and the quotidian. Poetry by women also has the poetic intention of catharsis, both for the writer and the reader and, because of this, its aesthetic value cannot be overlooked.


It is so important to ask ourselves: are there lesbian and transgender poets in my country, in my community? How many do I know? Why don't we read them at school? Beginning to question what we consume as cultural subjects is a big step towards ending our erasure in Art History.


Bleep!: mexican female creators’ laboratory is a project that pursues the promotion of literature that has expanded through digital media and digital art among young, Mexican women and non-binary people. Bleep! has made this selection of poets for Vigilance Fierce Feminisms to celebrate our pride in being different. We introduce three young, Mexican, female poets who, like flowers growing in hard soil, have taken their poetry along with their activism of pro lesbic, trans and muxe community rights: Yolanda Segura, Lía García (The Mermaid Bride) and Elvis Guerra.


YOLANDA SEGURA (Querétaro, 1989)


Yolanda Segura is a writer, activist and professor, the cofounder of the Queretano Poetry Slam Festival. Her first book of poems is entitled O reguero de hormigas (2016)​, and her book Per/so/na (2019) won the “Francisco Cervantes Vidal” prize. Her latest book offers critiques of human rights. She writes: “as persons we are depositories of obligations, but not necessarily with rights.” Yolanda has a very particular way of writing; she sometimes mixes different poetic voices to give more than one dimension to the poem, and there are other voices talking from the periphery of the leading voice. At the same time, she fuses precise descriptions with free-form language from the everyday. Yolanda Segura is a storyteller; she plays with both the musical and the visual aesthetics of poetry.


since the beginning of democracy

it has been the fate and power of people

to be represented by other people

[yet, not every person

has been allowed to represent]


Those who know say that this is not

a hierarchy but an order

not a privilege but a

responsibility:


that to be a person entails a number

of loads on the back. [2]


(fragment))


LÍA GARCÍA (CDMX, 1989)


The “mermaid bride” is a transgender woman who plays with trans-discipline in her work. She is a performer, poet, activist, pedagogue and fighter for the rights of transgender Mexicans. She is also the co-founder of the Mexico trans youth network. Her work as a performer and pedagogue has been presented in Trans October Barcelona, Arts University of Berlin, University of Chile and The University of Texas. Her artistic-pedagogical project “Affective encounters'' consists of three parts: “You may kiss the bride”, “Mis XXy años” (a reference to the quinceanera parties [3]) and “Voice under construction.” In the last part, she merges poetry with performance: dressed as a mermaid and performing in public spaces, she deconstructs public discourse and its construction of transgender people. She uses the mermaid archetype and the Odyssey myth to talk about forbidden singing as a metaphor for the voice, and its effects on the public space as acts of political visibilization. Her poems are filled with storytellers and what she calls “radical tenderness,” which she proposes as “affection’s effectiveness,” a mode of transformation based on dignified vulnerability.



-Eje 1 Norte, Alzate avenue-

(a poem based on real events)


Last night the almost red cockroach may have disappeared into the immensity of two bodies walking on the lonely streets of a city morning. 2:30 a.m.


… But the cockroach quit its sneaky, high-speed escape and turned to look at me.

It got closer. Graceful and brave.

Just like what I dreamed of becoming someday.

Cannot or can be.

The child who was holding my hand on that lonely, night wander of two bodies who love each other

against the tide and transit,

said into my ear while their palm joined mine,

the cockroach was kissing my foot....


We smiled because of that encounter between two worlds that seek to change loathing for loving

slots of emerging possibilities.


And so, the cockroaches that smell the radical honesty and have no shame when love is as

rebellious as they are

get closer to what could be its own end, and touch it,

they move their little feet towards their most terrible fear

and they do it with tenderness.


A foot.


If something scares you, go and touch it with tenderness

much tenderness.

The monster is not fear’s masterpiece.[4]





ELVIS GUERRA (Juchitán de Zaragoza, 1993)


Elvis Guerra is an indigenous muxe [5] poet, translator, artisan and lawyer. She has published the books “Xtiidxa’ ni ze’/ Absence’s declaration” (2018) and “Ramonera” (2019), in which she proposes an approach to peripheral sexualities and openly denounces patriarchy's violence against women and muxe’ people. She writes in her mother tongue, Zapotec, and self- translates her work into Spanish. Her poetry is raw; it doesn’t spare us any details about the emotions that it portrays, and her ferocity unfolds rhythmically and leads to climactic statements.


-Litany for a muxe’-

I wanted[6] myself naked, hollow

deflowered in a bunk

without honor nor flowers at my feet

I wanted myself wrapped in a torn dress.

I wanted myself bitch, j, h [7], but never mute.

I wanted myself far from the sun.

I wanted myself dirty in a church

where I myself was my god,

I wanted myself without shame,

I wanted myself when my father kicked me out the house,

when nobody knew to defend me,

when my friends were blind

and my brothers’ handless.

I wanted myself in every wedding where I danced,

though not any one was mine.

I wanted myself when my lover denied me

in front of his wife.

I wanted myself when I was called Carolina,

when I wanted to be a singer,

I wanted myself to not hate anybody.

I wanted myself when I was six years old

and they forced me to play football.

I wanted myself when I screwed a

fifty-eight year old man.

I wanted myself when it made me sick

to kiss a man who paid for my education.

I wanted myself getting out of a car

that wasn’t mine.

I wanted myself in silence, because to shout it

was a danger.

I wanted myself virile, innocent, shy.

I wanted myself proud, beaten, defeated,

to not say fucked.

I wanted myself with HPV [8]

I wanted myself in a bar singing the last drink [9].

I wanted myself without makeup.

I wanted myself above all the men

that didn’t want me.[10]




Notes:

[1] Disidencia sexo-generica (Sex/Gender Dissidence) stands for all of the people who don't identify themselves within the binary, cisgender spectrum.

[2] Yolanda Segura, Persona, México, Almadía/Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes, 2019, p. 96.


[3]. Quinceañera, (Spanish: “15 years [feminine form]”) also called quinceaños or quince años or simply quince, the celebration of a girl's 15th birthday, marking her passage from girlhood to womanhood; the term is also used for the celebrant herself.


[4]Poema extraído de “Inhóspita seducción” III


[5]The word muxe’ is a reinterpretation of the zapotec word for “woman” and its origin dates back to the 16th century. It is the term used in the region of Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, to name all of those bodies born with a penis but who renounce the male role and its symbolic power to embrace a gender identity different from the dominant one. A peculiarity that differentiates this reality from other peripheral identities is the social “acceptance” and the muxe’s institutionalization in Mexico’s indigenous world as a third gender, although it continues to be related to a heterosexist context which rejects non binary bodies. (Miano, Gays, 187).


[6] The spanish verb “querer” (“to want” in English) has two connotations: on the one hand, it expresses desire for someone or something (e.g. “quiero viajar este verano”/ “I want to travel this summer”). On the other hand, it expresses affection for someone or something (e.g. “te quiero mucho”/ “I love you so much”). However, the verb “amar” (“to love”) expresses a very deep affection, so I hesitated to use it. I think the poem offers ambiguity, shifting between one and another, from love to desire and vice versa.


[7] This is a word game: the letter “j” is called “jota” /xo.ta/, a word which is also used in Mexican slang for “fag” or “queer.” This is why she uses the letter “h” afterwards, which is silent in spanish. “Jota” is a pejorative term but some lgbttt+ communities who, in recent decades, have re-signified it for political purposes and visibility.


[8] Human papillomavirus: (HPV) is a viral infection that's passed between people through skin-to-skin contact. There are over 100 varieties of HPV, more than 40 of which are passed through sexual contact and can affect your genitals, mouth, or throat.


[9] “El último trago” (the last drink) is a regional Mexican song composed by José Alfredo Jiménez.


[10] Revista Letral, n.º 24, 2020,







80 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All