Coral Bracho

Coral Bracho was born in Mexico City in 1951. She is the author of eleven books of poems, plus two children poetry books, including Tierra de entraña ardiente, in which she collaborated with the painter Irma Palacios. Among her grants and prizes are the Aguacalientes National Poetry Prize in 1981 and a Guggenheim fellowship in 2000. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Bomb, Conjunctions, The Nation, and Poetry International.

It Must Be a Misunderstanding

Poetry by Coral Bracho

Translated from the Spanish by Forrest Gander

Edited by Forrest Gander

It Must Be a Misunderstanding is the acclaimed Mexican poet Coral Bracho’s most personal and emotive collection to date, dedicated to her mother who died of complications from Alzheimer’s. Remarkably, Bracho, author and daughter, seems to disappear into her own empathic observations as her mother comes clear to us not as a tragic figure, but as a fiery and independent personality. The chemistry between them is vivid, poignant, and unforgettable. As the translator Forrest Gander explains in his foreword: the book’s force builds as the poems cycle through their sequences— from early to late Alzheimer’s—“with non-judgmental affection and compassionate watchfulness.…
More Information

Firefly Under The Tongue

by Coral Bracho

Translated from the Spanish by Forrest Gander

Born in 1951 in Mexico City, Coral Bracho has published half a dozen books of poems including the groundbreaking El ser que va a morir (1982) which changed the course of Mexican poetry. Her exquisite long-lined poems evoke the sensual realm where logic is disbanded, wonder evoked. In the words of her translator Forrest Gander, “Her diction spills out along ceaselessly shifting beds of sound…Bracho’s poems make sense first as music, and music propels them.…
More Information
Poetry may be the most immediately sensuous literary form, but its language tends to substitute for touch rather than enact it. To place the body in close relation with other bodies and objects involves an unsettling of the self within a larger passage from identities to intimacies. Coral Bracho stunned readers in Mexico by doing just this in her 1981 collection El ser que va a morir (Being toward Death), parts of which appear in Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho, beautifully translated by Forrest Gander.
—Alan Gilbert, the Boston Review
Bracho’s consistently unusual images are profoundly illuminating, and her special gift is to bend them to make us think. She can be both metaphysical and full of human emotion – often, the two at once. “Only love offers us the dimension of the real / its dark force /curving."
The Guardian
To describe her mother’s progressive unmooring from language and time, Bracho uses an elemental vocabulary of images—boats, a queen, birds, plants, music—as she draws the reader into a state of disorientation, guided by dream logic and sometimes fear…[in] Gander’s lucid, sonorous translation.
—Heather Green, The Poetry Foundation
[A] surreal world that hasn’t been destroyed but altered. Thanks to Gander’s translation, this book offers us that gift: to see into this other world with wonder and curiosity.
Colorado Review
Like Paz, Bracho proceeds through association, moving from one motif to the next, rather than sketching a unified description. Her images, however, are less symbolic than his and more tactile (pulp, juice, moss), and her music, which Gander superbly re-creates, is less ringing and more sensual, slowed down by punctuation.
—Ratik Asokan, Poetry Foundation
Our losses have a way of locking us inside ourselves. But in It Must Be a Misunderstanding, Bracho endeavors against the odds to forge an “avid, intimate alliance / with the species,” keeping her eyes on the vanishingly few things that bind her to someone whose reality she’s no longer privileged to share.
—Andrew Chan, 4Columns
Now, more than ever…we need poems like Bracho’s to document a more ethical stance to the living planet.
—Edythe Haendel Schwartz
< Corrado Alvaro Chuang Hua >