mónica teresa ortiz

Photo by Whitney Devin

mónica teresa ortiz was born and raised in the Texas panhandle. Her work has appeared in Winter Tangerine Review, the Texas Observer, Bombay Gin, black girl dangerous, and is forthcoming in the Texas Review and American Southwestern Literature. A co-editor of pariahs, an anthology of marginalized writers from SFA press, she is the poetry editor for Raspa Magazinemuted blood is her first book.

mónica teresa ortiz’s muted blood probes the intersection of policing and borders across bodies, sexualities, ethnicities, genders, asking what it might take to thrive. Responding to Spicer’s After Lorca, ortiz conjures “the skeleton of that tender-hearted crocodile,” Lorca’s ghost, to witness resistance, resilience, against violence and erasure: “I’m queer and I’m mad,” ortiz declares, composing a new mythology—Lorca, Prometheus, San Salvador—its weft a matrix of code-switching language and tumbling images: galaxies, black holes, “gladiolas and coxcombs,” sharks’ teeth, empty megachurches, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Juarez, Dallas, the Karnes Family Detention Center, children hungry or murdered. “We could have been brothers, I told the man./ It was true. Babel separated us.” Ferrying-home the lost and buried alive, muted blood charts a tenacious queer, brown Tejas rising from of the ashes of disaster.

Praise for muted blood

mónica teresa ortiz’ muted blood—peers into that dust, the atmosphere of our undoing under the tyranny of racial capitalism and its heteropatriarchy. It peers too, into the clamoring mouth that might be our own, and is always also that of another, but which houses a tongue that will not rest until what has been silenced by oppressive force (however overt or covert) has been spat out, bellowed out, part noise, part speech, sometimes breathless, but vehement. Each page chisels their own glossary of haunting, echoing the refrain, “I don’t want to haunt you; but I will.” —Heidi Andrea Restrepo

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nature morte (muted blood) by natalie ann villarreal, mixed media on paper: natalieavillarreal.com

 

Poems from muted blood featured at Conflict of Interest

The Sky is Vast and Bright We Burn: A Conversation between Poets Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes and Mónica Teresa Ortiz

From the Foreword by Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes:

mónica teresa ortiz’ muted blood—peers into that dust, the atmosphere of our undoing under the tyranny of racial capitalism and its heteropatriarchy. It peers too, into the clamoring mouth that might be our own, and is always also that of another, but which houses a tongue that will not rest until what has been silenced by oppressive force (however overt or covert) has been spat out, bellowed out, part noise, part speech, sometimes breathless, but vehement. Each page chisels their own glossary of haunting, echoing the refrain, “I don’t want to haunt you; but I will.”

I am reminded of María Elena Cruz Varela’s own Ballad of the Blood, where blood is ritual, haunting, death and loss, blindness and rage, the sound of birds harnessed against hopelessness; blood, the carmine carnal, the pervasive violence of the political:

And I have lost my greens. My blues. They will never be anything

But distant. Distinctive. Washed by the blood

Of a red without refuge…

In muted blood, a post-hope grieving finds itself having lost the greens and blues amidst a red without refuge, without sanctuary. The collection shines its double-edge—of mourning a world that silences the sound of the wound, that minimizes the horror history and its present have enacted in the making of black and brown/queer/immigrant bodies, selves, as eternally less-than; and of a response in which resistance to that world arrives never-fully formed, evading the total grasp of surveillance and carcerality, escaping the assimilation of the untranslatable into translation, as language distinguishes us from the cocoon enfleshed but never quite embodied in the fluidity of imaginal cells, to revolt in the cracks, to let the vibrant life force pulse insurgently even when falling on unwilling ears.

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