Exiliana is a first collection of poetry by the Chilean/Detroit poet and publisher Mariela Griffor. The poems are meditations and reveries on love, loss and memory. They speak of many lands and exiles; her poetry a defiant response and weapon against the cold political machinations of fascism, indifference, poverty and neglect. It is work that appears new and fresh with each reading. From her beloved homeland in Chili turned into “a scarlet puddle of idiots, poets, assassins and innocents,” to her adopted home in Detroit where “the landscape is an arson,” — “Detroit wake up from your sleep,” she cries. These are words and gifts in language that only an outsider who has gone through pain and hell can offer.
There is more in Exiliana than spilled blood and catharsis bubbling up through a romantic consciousness. She uses words like puddle, solitary, blindness, blood and tenderness, woven into short magical dioramas. They are spoken-word paintings of South-American soul and artistic mystery.
Mariela demands a world filled with dreams and hope, a “holy fight,” that will cleanse and heal the past. Like Lorca and Neruda’s mournful Duende poems and dark odes to love, Griffor’s first book is born fully formed; a selection of deep songs and gypsy like rhythms that resonate, burn and linger in the mind, forged with a seductive and wild spirit. Self-translated into English (her new language), the poet is also transformed through it, but remains eternal and primitive, true to her self. Exiliana was published by the small Luna Publications press in Toronto, Ontario. This slim volume of 47 poems is a handsome design and an important and gratifying read.
Recently, Mariela has taken her fight to the streets. She is the founding director of Marick Press a young, independent publisher of poetry. A maverick undertaking, Marick is devoted to give voice to the rich array of native Detroit and newer, unheard talent. Healing comes when we know who we are, when we can feel, read and taste our history and emotions. These living structures of support and encouragement for artists and poets are rarely seen, yet badly needed, and like exotic flora should be preserved and tended to with care.
Mariela Griffor will be reading and signing copies of EXILIANA at the Book Beat on Sunday, January 28th, 2007, at 2 PM. Join us for an afternoon’s delight.
Read an interview with Mariela at: The Detroiter.Com /Mariela Griffor Interview and read the December 20th, 2006 cover story of the Metro Times that featured the article: An Exile’s tale of Christmas by Mariela Griffor.