Brenda Cárdenas’ TRACE featured in RHINO Reviews!

I heard Brenda Cárdenas read from her new collection, Trace, at The Hungry Brain in Chicago: an incantation, a call to action. By the time I got to the book table, there were no more copies to purchase.

Reading the poems on the page is a very different experience. Many writers who code-switch build in supports for the reader—italics to mark the transition, English versions of the unfamiliar language, explanations, notes. Not here. Cárdenas interweaves her two languages without making a distinction between the two means of expression, much like the people I worked with in public schools serving Spanish-speaking communities, who would start a sentence in one language, shift to the other and back again without missing a beat. For those of us not fluent in Spanish, we can read for the music or we can turn to a dictionary, which slows us down. That’s a good thing, as it forces us to think more deeply about the poet’s urgent words.