I wept with my grandmother when Reaganwas shot because that's what she wanted.At night, she'd tell me about a city builtby Evita for children in Buenos Aires, the cityof her first exile. Children went aboutmunicipal duties in the small post officeand mini city hall to learn to be good citizens.In Argentina she sold bread puddingand gave French and English lessons from herhome for money to buy shoes. She promisedwe'd go someday, but we never did. She'd sayPeruvians were gossipy, Argentinians snobbish, butChileans were above reproach. A little bit migrant,a little bit food insecurity, she was the brass bustof JFK on her altar, the holy card of Saint Anthonyon her TV. She was her green card and the ebony crossabove her bed. The lilted yes when she answeredthe phone, and the song she liked to hum about bellsand God that ended tirin-tin-tin-tirin-tin-tan: milesand ages away from her story, she sang it.
Copyright © 2019 by Carmen Giménez Smith
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Carmen Giménez Smith is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and the author of a memoir and six poetry collections, including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. She was awarded an American Book Award for Bring Down the Little Birds and the Juniper Prize for Poetry for her collection Goodbye, Flicker. She also co-edited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing, an anthology of contemporary Latinx writing (Counterpath Press, 2014). She is the co-director for CantoMundo and the publisher of Noemi Press. Cruel Futures was a volume in the City Lights Spotlight Series in 2018. She is Professor of English at Virginia Tech and with Steph Burt, poetry editor of The Nation. Be Recorder will be published by Graywolf Press in 2019.
“With a powerful allegiance to the freedom of free verse, Smith tells a sort of fragmentary superhero origin story about a girl who faces the disdain of her country to become a woman, poet, and mother.”
“Carmen Giménez Smith criticizes the new normal and challenges us to be anything but comfortable in today's society.”
"Be Recorder is indispensable, required for the next evolution. This is the one. Giménez Smith is going to take it all down.”
—Juan Felipe Herrera
"Be Recorder is part Latinx teen diary, part adult reframing of our deforming, maddening moment, and all craft (sometimes the craft that hides its craft). It's the work of a daughter and a mother and an observer and a very active worker in making and remaking the spaces where she can live. This is the kind of book you might give to your friends who might need it, at once 'a ship powered by bones' and 'a thorn in the giant's hand.'"
"Carmen Giménez Smith's Be Recorder—at once tender and rageful, vulnerable and renegade—makes critique on 'late civilization,' and pulls us toward a reckoning with weights carried and experience happening from some distance. Record is also unearthing, is also revelation in these poems whose persistent dislocations—say, capital, say branded resistance, say migration—refuse to release us from their grasp. They undo US, meaning America. This book is unrelenting fire!"
—Dawn Lundy Martin