The Brush: Poems (Paperback)

The Brush: Poems By Eliana Hernández-Pachón, Robin Myers (Translated by), Hector Abad (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Eliana Hernández-Pachón, Robin Myers (Translated by), Hector Abad (Afterword by)
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A wise, visionary debut on ecological and human resistance, perfect for readers of Joy Harjo and Tracy K. Smith, and fans of the earth-body artwork of Ana Mendieta

The Brush is an incantatory, fearless exploration of collective trauma – and its horrific relevance in today’s Colombia, where mass killings continue. Told from the voices Pablo, Ester, and the Brush itself, Hernández-Pachón’s poem is an astounding response to a traumatic event in recent Colombian history: the massacre in the village of El Salado between February 16 and 21, 2000. Paramilitary forces tortured and killed sixty people, interspersing their devastating violence with music in the town square.

Pablo Rodríguez steps thirteen paces out into the night and buries a wooden box. Its contents: a chain, a medallion, a few overexposed photographs, and finally, a deed. He burrows into the ground without knowing quite why, but with the certainty of a heavy change pressing through the air, of fear settling “like a cat in his throat.” Meanwhile, his wife Ester – a sharpshooter and keeper of all village secrets – slips into her fifth dream of the night. As Ester tosses and Pablo pats his fresh mound of earth, another character emerges in Eliana Hernández-Pachón’s vivid and prophetic triptych.

The Brush is a tangled grove, a thicket of vines, an orchid pummeled with rain. It is also an extraordinary depiction of ecological resistance, of the natural world that both endures human cruelty and lives on in spite of it.

About the Author

Eliana Hernández-Pachón received her BA in Anthropology from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. Her research interests include contemporary Latin American literature and visual art, gender studies, and environmental humanities. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University. The Brush, her polyphonic account of the El Salado massacre in Colombia, received the Colombia National Poetry Prize in 2020.

Robin Myers is a Mexico City–based poet and translator. Her latest book-length translations include Bariloche by Andrés Neuman (2023), The Book of Explanations by Tedi López Mills (2022), and Copy by Dolores Dorantes (2022). A 2023 NEA Translation Fellow, Robin’s collections of poetry have been published bilingually in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Spain.

Praise For…

"The narrative unfolds at a slant via three acts . . . in a tone that is at once factual and filled with palpable dread . . . For a poet writing about a catastrophe, using artifice to generate pathos can be difficult, as the reader knows that the events in the book are true. Hernández-Pachón resolves this by animating the forest, who is a compassionate observer, with a distinct persona and all the eccentricities of being a speaking-forest. 'During the concert, / rain is generality. / Every I and every mine / is open sky or moss.'" –– Janani Ambikapathi, Harriet Books

“This poignant account of the tragedy still resonates powerfully today, more than two decades after it occurred. ‘When what happened happened and they made us watch, it was as if Earth revolved around our eyes, as if space opened up between our eyes, as if lava flow erupted from within.’ Breathtaking.” — Leo Boix, Morning Star

“Flowers, bleeding bodies, and all that blooms from itself—we need poetry that sends us directly into this blossoming in all its agony, horror, and beauty. Eliana Hernández-Pachón has given us this with The Brush, a book I want everyone I know to know about.” — CAConrad, author of Listen to the Golden Boomerang Return and You Don’t Have What It Takes to Be My Nemesis

“‘I want to tell you’ says an unnamed woman traveling with Ester in The Brush, but the desire to name horror struggles against the need to survive it. Hernández-Pachón’s words at turns circle, allude, describe and pulse with the events and legacy of the massacre at El Salado. This book is stunning, painful, beautiful, horrible, human and full of abundant, rich, throbbing language.” — Jessica Rankin

"A disconcerting calmness rests over this book-length sequence of poems that, in a mere 57 pages, manages to capture the contradictions and harmonies that arise in response to acts of extreme violence. That calmness serves to unsettle the reader and honour the survivors, while placing this event within a wider ecosystem and granting a voice to nature, the one force, perhaps, that can truly offer both understanding and healing." –– Joseph Shreiber, Rough Ghosts

"There is something that literature can do and do very well, and that is act as witness, offering a way to document and acknowledge, to process, and The Brush shines a spotlight on Colombian history perhaps little known across North America, writing on what can’t be imagined, but an event that leaves its scar across not only history, but on the lives of those that remain . . . This is a powerful and evocative collection, devastating for its subtlety, and composed with enormous care and unflinching gaze." –– Rob McLennan
Product Details
ISBN: 9781953861863
ISBN-10: 1953861865
Publisher: Archipelago
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 72
Language: English