Al Young title

ACROSS THE LINE / AL OTRO LADO: The Poetry of Baja California, Edited by Harry Polkinhorn & Mark Weiss


Read 17 poem selections at Jacket #21

“It was at Half Price Books, Berkeley, that I happened upon a used copy of this rich, seductive collection. A long-ago Spanish major, I go on losing and finding myself in its double-bladed, doubly-minted pages. Now I’d like to point other border-crossers in its direction. ‘Baja Californians remain orphans of sorts,’ co-editor Harry Polkinhorn reminds us in his foreword, ‘caught between and on the edge of the two power centers that determine their fates and that tend to render them invisible. Our goal when we began this anthology was to make them visible.’ And, indeed, they do make these 53 poets visible and audible as well.” — Al Young

Click to order

Cover: TĂ­a Juana, graphite and charcoal on board, by Hugo Crosthwaite (Rosarito, Baja California)

Across the Line / Al otro lado: The Poetry of Baja California
Edited by Harry Polkinhorn & Mark Weiss

© 2002 Junction Press
Junction Press
San Diego

383 pages


ISBN: 1-881523-13-6

“If you can’t make it across the border, Across the Line/Al otro lado is the next best thing to a trip to Mexico’s Baja California. The astonishing range of fifty-three poetic voices, traditional native chants and popular corridos, which are generously presented in bilingual format, is rooted in a time and place that is both timeless and in constant flux. The poems are by turns full of yearning, lyric, exultant, pungent, mournful, fast-paced as the streets of Tijuana or slow as a cactus growing beyond the dunes. Baja Californians are a population on the move, alive to change, living on the edge, and the poetry in this lovingly-translated anthology conveys the feel of gritty towns and cities, burning deserts, lonely mountains, a huge sky still crowded with stars, the wind blowing in off the Pacific or the Sea of Cortes, the nearness of gray whales and pelicans, the uncertainties of isolation, the jittery rhythms of urban life, the United States forever looming on the other side of the border. And I am happy to say that these poets value the beauty and importance of Baja California’s unique and fragile ecosystems; in Baja California moonlight still matters.”
— Homero Aridjis



a Roberto Castillo Udiarte

Esta ciudad nos duele como una espina en la garganta,
como el hombre que pasa con el miedo dibujado en el rostro.
Nos duele como el amor y sus ejércitos,
como los ángeles irremediablemente perdidos.
Es la mujer que nos desnuda frente al mar,
la lluvia de marzo y las dos tormentas del verano,
el golpe que nos hace abrir los ojos; el beso que nos cierra los labios.
Es el monumento de la infamia y del rencor,
el perro que nos asustaba cuando volvĂ­amos del colegio,
el mismo que a veces vemos en la mirada del hombre más próximo.
Esta ciudad se levanta sobre el sudor y los sueños de nuestros padres,
sobre el cuerpo violado de la muchacha y la mano siempre dispuesta
xxxxxxxxdel asesino.
Crece como el odio, como el polvo y la rabia,
como un mar encabronado que se te escapa de las manos.
Es la mujer que pasĂł sin verte, la que no te recurda,
esa que constantemente disfrazas, pero a quien siempre le escribes tus versos.

— JosĂ© Javier Villarreal



for Roberto Castillo Udiarte

This city wounds like a fishbone stuck in our throats,
like the man passing by with fear written all over his face.
She wounds us like love and its armies,
like hopelessly lost angels.
She’s the woman who strips us naked at the shore,
the rains of March and Summer’s two storms,
the slap forcing our eyes open; the kiss that closes our lips.
She’s infamy and rancor’s monument,
the dog that frightened us on the way home from school,
the one we sometimes see in the stare of the man beside us.
This town is built upon the sweat and dreams of our parents,
over a girl’s raped body and the murderer’s always ready hand.
She grows like hate, like dust and rage,
like an angry sea that slips through your fingers.
She’d the woman who walked right by without seeing you, who doesn’t
xxxxxxxxxremember you,
the woman you always disguise, for whom you write your verses.

— JosĂ© Javier Villarreal
(translated by Scott Bennett)


Leave a Reply