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The Zen of La Llorona,

Deborah A. Miranda

The Zen of La Llorona, Deborah A. Miranda


Publication Date: 01-Apr-05 | ISBN: 1844710637 | Trim Size: 216 x 140 mm | Extent: 124pp | Format: Paperback

UK & International Distribution: Macmillan Distribution | Publishing Status: Active Shop online at HiveFind your local bookshop




The Zen of La Llorona is a second collection of poetry by a Native American woman, and as such, it goes beyond initial concerns with personal racial identity. While still very much speaking from an indigenous point of view, The Zen of La Llorona complicates that indigenous identity with visceral explorations of gendered violence, sexual orientation and mothering in an unpredictable, chaotic world. Key to these poems are historical and current events: traumas as distant as the colonization of California’s indigenous peoples and as close as the destructive forces of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How do we survive destruction without becoming destroyers ourselves? How can the elements of earth, love, community and work nurture creation, and manifest hope? Utilizing the figure of “La Llorona,” a mythical indigenous figure of the Americas who first murders and then mourns her children, the poems in this book seek to unravel the mysterious fascination we have with despair, and move us along with the poet to a more clarifying, centering focus on joy. Zen, the author notes, tells us “everyone loses everything,” leaving us with only a decision about our attitude toward loss itself. La Llorona, on the other hand, says, “Nonsense – there’s always something left to lose.” What that “something” is, and how we can preserve and honor it, is at the heart of this collection of poems.


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The Legend(s) of the Weeping Woman; Part One: Passage; Passage; Three Months Without Electricity; Petroglyph; Deer; Sisters in Rain; Jenny; Almost a Pantoum for My Mother; After San Quentin; Last Confession; The Zen of La Llorona; Our Lady of Perpetual Loss; November Leaves; Forty; I’m Lost; April Sixteenth; Swarm; Things My Mother Taught Me; Advice from La Llorona; First Step; Part Two: Drowning; Drowning; Tongues; Duende; Echolocation; La Llorona’s Daughter; Sleeping Beauty, 1978; Chianti; The Twin Sister Your Mother Never Mentioned; The Place Where Grief and Rage Live; Husband; 10%; Driving Past Suicide for Three Novembers; Separation; Ex; The Language of Prophets; Heron; Part Three: A Trick of Grace; A Trick of Grace; Arrow Song; From a Dream, I Wake to Tender Music; Love Poem to a Butch Woman; Mesa Verde; Music Like Red Earth; First Time; Steele Street; A Ceremony for Giving You Up; Clean; Shopping; Old Territory. New Maps.; Dawn; Burning the Baskets (triptych); Part Four: Dar a Luz (Giving Birth); Dar a Luz; Portrait of the Beloved as a Young Lifeguard; Smoke; My Moon; Home; Fencing Out the Deer; Satiate; Shenandoah; When I Think of You; Leaving Oz; Tenderness; Highway 126; Mitzvah; dia de las muertas


“This is a book of poems with stories urgently told. They ‘swim out of a river of betrayal’ onto the shores of the many waves of love. They are not only containers of history, they are poems that can be counted on to create new histories, and to save-step by step-the betrayed from drowning. This is the work of a mature poet who knows what she is saying.” —Linda Hogan


The Zen of la Llorona is give and take, lessons of grief and grace, love and loss, passion and pain. As one character in the poems aptly puts it, “That's life.” A tender examination of paradoxes. I found myself wanting to tape several of these poems on my fridge, send them to friends, so they could remind and guide us daily on how to survive and live. Wondrous stuff.” —Sandra Cisneros



Deborah A. MirandaDeborah A. Miranda is of Esselen, Chumash, French and Jewish ancestry. She is enrolled with the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California. Her collection Indian Cartography won the Diane Decorah First Book Award. Her poetry is widely published in such anthologies as The Dirt is Red Here: Art and Poetry from Native California (HeyDay Books, 2002) and The Eye of the Deer: An Anthology of Native American Women Writers (Aunt Lute, 1999). Currently, Deborah is Assistant Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, where she teaches Creative Writing, Composition, and Native American Literatures.

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