Grenade in Mouth: Some Poems of Miyó Vestrini

Grenade in Mouth: Some Poems of Miyó Vestrini

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Edited by Faride Mereb and translated by Anne Boyer and Cassandra Gillig, Grenade in Mouth: Some Poems of Miyó Vestrini introduces to Anglophone readers the work of one of the vanguard voices of Venezuelan poetry with texts that cover three decades: from the year 1960 to 1990. The book offers a broader spectrum of her poems than ever previously compiled, including previously unpublished texts alongside her best known and most important works.

Critics have called Miyó Vestrini the poet of “militant death.” Vestrini is known, too, as the Sylvia Plath of Venezuela, but if she is a Plath, we think she is one who would have set Ted Hughes on fire.  And if Vestrini is a confessional poet, what she is confessing is not a set of personal problems: it is a fatal disappointment with the world at large. Her work is less a self-exposure than a set of  incantations.  These poems are spells for a death that might live eternally, for what Vestrini offers readers is a fundamental paradox: how to create, through writing, an enduring extinction.  Her poems are not soft or brooding laments.  They are bricks hurled at empires, ex-lovers, and any saccharine-laced lie that parades itself as the only available truth.

Miyó Vestrini was born in France, 1938, emigrated to Venezuela at the age of 9, and at eighteen she joined Apocalipsis (Apocalypse), the only woman to do so in the then male-dominated scene of the Venezuelan avant-garde. She soon became a dedicated and prize-winning journalist, directing the arts section of the newspaper El Nacional. She published three books of poetry in her lifetime: 1971’s Las historias de Giovanna (The History of Giovanna), 1975’s El invierno próximo (The Next Winter), and Pocas virtudes (Little Virtues), published in 1986.  Vestrini died by suicide on November 29, 1991, leaving behind two collections:  a book of poems, Valiente Ciudadano (Brave Citizen) and a book of stories, Órdenes al corazón (Orders to the Heart).

Faride Mereb is an editor and graphic designer currently living in New York City and specializing in typography. She is the founder and director of the publishing house Ediciones Letra Muerta, based in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2016 she was awarded gold in the editorial category in the Latin American Design Awards for Al Filo ~ Miyó Vestrini.

Anne Boyer is a U.S. poet and essayist whose books include The Undying, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction, as well as  A Handbook of Disappointed Fate (2018) and the CLMP award-winning Garments Against Women (2015). In 2018, Boyer received the inaugural Cy Twombly Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and a Whiting Award in poetry and nonfiction. She is the 2018-19 Judith E. Wilson Fellow in poetry at Cambridge University and an associate professor of the liberal arts at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Cassandra Gillig is an archivist and liturgical poet working under the New Order of St. Agatha. She is at work on a book of correspondence between Diane di Prima and Audre Lorde and a middle grade book about animal liberation and the end of Amazon. She lives in Kansas City.