Veering between past and present, between ecological destruction and human violence, What Comes Backis a search for what has vanished and what remains.
Javier Peñalosa M.’s What Comes Backis a procession, a journey, a search for a body of water that has disappeared or gone elsewhere. Featured in separate sections, original Spanish poems and Robin Myers’ English translations highlight tender ruminations on loss, memory, and communion. Just as landscapes witness and “preserve what happens along the length of them,” so do people. We watch as travelers navigate realms between the living and the dead, past mountains and dried up rivers to map, trace, and remember the past and future. Several sections, eachbearing the title “What Comes Back,” guide readers on a looping voyage where they are “orbited around the gravity of what had come to be”—the absence of Mexico City’s rivers, and other absences wrought by war, climate change, and forced migration. Rattled between ecological destruction and human violence, What Comes Back, what remains, is a desire to name the missing, to render belonging out of dispossession, endurance out of erasure—the spiritual urge toward connection and community.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Javier Peñalosa (he/him) is an award-winning poet, children’s book author, and screenwriter. He holds a BA in education and an MFA in creative writing in Spanish from NYU. His poetry collections include Los que regresan, which won the 2017 Xirau Icaza Poetry Prize, andLos trenes que partían de mí, which won the 2009 Enriqueta Ochoa National Poetry Award. Additionally, he has earned fellowships from the fundación para las letras mexicanas, Mexico’s Young Artists Program (FONCA), and the Immigrant Artist Program from the New York Fund for the Arts. As a screenwriter, he has contributed to many acclaimed films and TV series including Juana Inés, The Eternal Feminine,and Malinche. Currently, he is a member of the Writers Guild of America West and is at work on several collaborative, multidisciplinary projects.
Robin Myers (she/her) is a prolific Spanish-to-English translator and poet based in Mexico City. In 2019, she won the Academy of American Poets’ Words in Translation Contest, and she was longlisted twice for the 2022 National Translation Award. Her own poetry was selected by Matthew Zapruder for the Best American Poetry Anthology in 2022 and has appeared widely in journals such as Kenyon Review, Granta,andHarvard Review. Her books have received international attention, with bilingual English-Spanish editions published in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Spain. Her recent book-length translations include Barilocheby Andrés Neuman, Copyby Dolores Dorantes, and The Dream of Every Cellby Maricela Guerrero. She received a 2023 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship for her in-progress translation of Like the NightInside the Eyesby David Lipara.
Praise for Javier Peñalosa'sLos que regresan
“A collection that hasn’t so much been written as cultivated, then planted in the reader and transformed into an inner book: a work both memorable and untransferable, existing on the border between the novel and the poem, between the play and the hymn.” —Adolfo Castañón
“Peñalosa’s syntax connects everlasting ideas and brings them closer to speech with a flowing language. He circulates and draws a map of his history, which is that of a good part of the maturity of young Mexican poetry.” —Ignacio Ballester
“A story of solidarity amid scarcity, a study of landscape, a record of what can only be learned on foot.” —Juan Villoro
Praise for Robin Myers’ Spanish-to-English Translations
“Guerrero’s collection, . . . thanks to Robin Myers, feels as much a collection of poetry as it does a document of rebellion, a manifesto, a toolkit on how to think about connectedness and ecology.” —Greg Bem
“Unaffected yet profound, casual but alert to the innate dignity of life, the poem that Robin Myers has brought us does what great poems do: show us the ancient in the contemporary, the lightness in the gravity, the gleaming thread of the sacred woven everywhere in the commonplace.” —Conor Bracken