translated from Spanish: Fantasy and politics in book “Black Capuchita” by Alejandra del Río

The last installment of Alejandra del Río (Santiago de Chile, 1972) called “Black cappuccita” is sistered with contemporary texts of Chilean political poetry such as those of Jaime Pinos, Guillermo Riedemann, Fanny Campos Espinoza or Carlos Soto Román, among others, who use a poetry that records the event of a moment or moments that shape a reality, criticizing it or questioning it, in most cases cited using direct observation of the facts or the documentation thereof to express them as poetic matter.
 The question of the titles of the poems can be understood as alluding, beyond their content, to aspects and components of dictatorship and resistance, alternately, which today remain in force as beams of support of current senses such as “Protest Day“, “Uncovered face-to-face sheet“, “Safe house“, “Off-hook“, “Shadow of militant“, “Stubborn memory“, “Armed road” or “Revolutionary violence“, among many others, titles that give us the information necessary to say that we are facing a book in the genre of political poetry.

In the case, however, of this new book by Alejandra, she explores the political in another sense, which finds its basis in a reading by Gabriela Mistral, a reading that is projected in this book that addresses both the dictatorship and the post-dictatorship and the current neoliberal dictatorship in which we find ourselves, which is the business version of the military dictatorship, the part of the civil accomplices of it, we could say; it is that time frame and events that addresses this told book, sung in a fabulous key. Another issue that we can highlight in this same sense is that by making the exercise of relating its title “Black cappuccita“, with the title of the poem of the Mistral called “Red Riding Hood” and whose last verse “and has squeezed like a cherry the heart“, which serves as an epigram to the poem”Abuse of power” by Alejandra: “Leave the tartlets/ and come and warm my bed/ don’t delay with the basket/ I prefer what’s inside you/leave only the hood/ let the rest take it away from the wind/ come and warm my bed“(p.71), places Alejandra del Río as an author who refers to the deepest poets in the Castilian language of the twentieth century and projects it through its prism. 
The deformation that goes from a children’s story and a poem like Gabriela Mistral’s as “Red Riding Hood“, which is operated to take you to “Black cappuccita“, it is also a politicizing gesture of, we might say, the protagonist of this book of poetry, which is Capuchita — because this book, as it rightly says on the back cover, “sand it’s about a set of poems that can be read under the same arc of a novel“, thus highlighting its narrative dimension. Thus these images of Caperucita and Capuchita end up melting, those that end in a common search, if we attend the quote that Bruno Bettelheim makes in his acquaintance “Psychoanalysis of fairy tales” from 1975, where he says that “Tolkien states that the essential aspects in a fairy tale are fantasy, overcoming, flight and relief; overcoming a deep despair, escaped from enormous danger and, above all, relief” (P.174, op. cit.), which means that there is terror, panic, despair and fear at the threat, but from which this character can escape, in this case, precisely, thanks to the power of word, writing, poetry. According to Bruno Bettelheim himself “Fairy tales, unlike any other form of literature, lead the child to discover his identity and vocation, suggesting, too, what experiences he needs to develop his character” (p.27, op. cit.), which we can read in several of the poems in this book. For example in the poem “Operation Return“: “Hand in hand with the mom/go the girl clinging to her notebook/ as they get off the plane (…) / When stepping on uncharted territory/ the letters of the notebook are scattered (…) / It’s winter and there’s a long way to go/ start dawning” (p.29), or in the poem “Armed road“: “A notebook is the weapon that carries hidden/ a secret code/ it’s poetry, said the mom/language that no one understands” (p.41), or later in the poem “From Capuchita’s notebook“: “I don’t know how this wallet got into my hands, but I know it’s magical. I take care of it to keep supernatural things. The supernatural protects me … Portfolio contents:/ a magic rubber to erase the bad/ a pencil to draw the good/ a notebook to write down dreams and poems/ chestnuts collected in the forest/ (keep secrets to be deciphered)/ the small mirror that makes me pretty/ magical salt with magic dust for April to speak the opaque/ (ground wings of night moths)/ a card painted green to relax looking at it / the stone that spoke to me in the street / (never again has I spoken)/ my whistle to call goblins … I keep my wallet under the bed, no one can see it or take my magic stuff. They’re mine, for me. I’ve endowed them with power myself, and I’m the only one who knows what they’re for. It is forbidden to talk about them.// Year 1982, no precaution is little” (p.93). We can even read later in the poem “Tree of Faith“: “Grandma believed in fascism/mom believed in communism/daughter in her notebook” (p.121). As we can see, the intimately related notebook/poetry factors appear as the instruments/dimensions that provide relief to Capuchita. 
There are many other aspects that this book goes through and deepens, such as the question of the genealogy of the poetic voice, an issue that is addressed from the first poem called “Call“: “Family tree/ your plagues I’ll fumigate” (P.11); or in the poem “Day of protest”:and I went on the march/just like my grandmother” (p.21); or in the poem “Ultrona“: “Grandma reversed the order of things/repeated that in the dark there was a small light/like a poem” (p.104), verses also of clear lihnage; or in the poem “Stubborn memory”: “Grandma has a garden/ where memory blossoms” (p.94);  or as we can also read in the poem, we could say beautiful, austere and definitive”Cardinal words”:You, him/and in between me/a simple triangle/ made up of a hug/cardinal words:/ mother, daughter and father” (p.129). 
While it is true that we can find in this book of Alejandra del Río solid relations with the poetry of the Mistral and other Chilean authors such as Teillier, on the question of childhood, which is the true lost paradise of laric poetry; o Lihn, in his metapoetics, we can also appreciate an in-depth work on past and present memory, biological and literary genealogy, violence, death, terror and by his position the political dimension, whose patina gives it a thick and enriching complexity, which is also a poetry at once personal and collective. 
Finally, highlight the watticinium and the fit of this book of unheard of topicality, as the poem is concerned “Reformer’s Curse“: “Cursed those who delivered the companion to be removed/ those who dissued their speech and ran to hide/ those who sold the forest / be you cursed / those who blocked the wide malls with publicity / those who agreed to betray the village / those who integrated into the lumpen of shadows/damn them and also/ those who trampled/ideals with their greed/cursed the undercover enemy in wolf skin/those who turned the jacket/ are cursed forever” (p126).
“Black Capuchita”, Alejandra del Río, Editorial Aparte, October 2019, 131 pages. 
Ramiro Villarroel Cifuentes. Writer.

The content poured into this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.

Original source in Spanish

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