Against The Current
by Tedi López Mills
translated from the Spanish by Wendy Burk
The poems in Against the Current expose a mind moving fast as water. Tedi López Mills renders a river as a cool but contaminated space, propelling its detritus through a hybrid rural/urban zone that is inhabited by allegory and rife with collision. As the poems swim upstream, they accrue the impurities and complicities of memory, embodied in the central figure of the brother who is also the other. Wendy Burk reproduces the baroque, occasionally frenetic rhythms of the abecedarian original with lucidity, in these poems that underscore that Mexico is defined by physical and philosophical contrast.
Press and Reviews
"Tedi López Mills ingeniously overlays ordinary subject-verb-object sentences with familiar narrative structural elements—“And so,” “The first time,” “Little by little…” to limn a contemporary suburban domestic relationship. But the familiar patterns of romantic gifts, songs, winks, shared dinners, and lists of things to do are horribly irrupted by paranoia, sadomasochistic games, the voices of a psyche named Anonymous, and formulas for controlling the body and its words and deeds. Any erotic dimension is upended; cleavage is perceived as a wound. As the constraints of grammatical regularity and understatement are repeatedly broken and re-established, the poem grows more terrifying...Tedi López Mills expands family drama into critical conceptual questions as she drives home what Rimbaud meant when he wrote 'Domesticity leads too far.'" -Forrest Gander
"In Death on Rua Augusta Tedi López Mills eviscerates and devours a decaying emotional interior. This meticulously crafted diary, beautifully rendered into English by David Shook, of the unassuming and deeply possessed Gordon who has been shattered by obsessive love, is filled with sensual music and erotic perversion. Black and white magic has been exquisitely draped over his plastic California Eden. This is a gorgeous and fiendish gem of a book." -Donald Breckenridge
Tedi López Mills is one of Mexico's foremost poets writing today. Born in Mexico City in 1959, she studied philosophy at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and literature at the Sorbonne. She is the author of ten books of poetry and two essay collections, several of which have received national literary prizes, including the Premio Xavier Villaurrutia, "Mexico's Pulitzer Prize," for her verse novel Muerte en la rúa Augusta (2009). López Mills sets the pace for her contemporaries with work that is linguistically inventive and philosophically rigorous. She invokes the classics, the troubadours, and the pastoral tradition with an underlying skepticism about language, landscape, and causality that keeps her work current, engaging the eye while troubling the "I." She lives in Mexico City, Mexico.
Wendy Burk was the recipient of a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship to translate Against the Current. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Deer and The Place Names The Place Named, and the translator of Tedi López Mills’s While Light Is Built. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Colorado Review, and other journals. She lives in Tucson, AZ.
Cover art by Verónica Gerber Bicecci