Word Becomes Voice

In his book of bilingual / self-translated poetry, Urayoán Noel explores multiple themes and ideas. One such ideas is the discovery of voice. Colonized and marginalized peoples are often silenced and made to be obedient and grateful. We have already seen this idea propagated in Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, in which a border patrol officer lines up several Mexican men and women (the protagonist, Makina, included) and gives a speech about how they have to fall in line.


Fall in line and “ask permission” for just about everything. This is one concept which Urayoán Noel fights against in his book, and he does so through the creation of voice:

could it be that the mammoth guitar  / became a desert

dissolving in the tide / and wrecking in hands

smaller than ours / showing us the way

without academy / without institute

toward the edge of the park / where word becomes voice? (71)

Without academy or institute is particularly significant, as those are incredibly privileged and Euro-centered concepts accessible only to those who are offered the opportunity. However, Urayoán Noel points out that the “mammoth guitar” showed them the way without that path, and showed the way to discovery without it.

There is also a poem, Langu, in which the line “noise memory language land brain body” is repeated. This is significant because it is not simply the creation of voice, but the rejection of colonial influence and standards.


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