Ms. Magazine’s “Reads for the Rest of Us: The Best Poetry of Last Year” features Cynthia Guardado’s Cenizas. Karla J. Strand celebrated National Poetry Month by providing Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups. She wrote, “Instead of the usual blurb, I focused my thoughts about each collection into three words.”
Strand’s three words for Cenizas: Descent, grief, portal.
We have a few more words.
Cenizas offers an arresting portrait of a Salvadoran family whose lives have been shaped by the upheavals of global politics. The speaker of these poems—the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants—questions the meaning of homeland as she navigates life in the United States while remaining tethered to El Salvador by the long shadows cast by personal and public history. Cynthia Guardado’s poems give voice to the grief of family trauma, while capturing moments of beauty and tenderness. Maternal figures preside over the verses, guiding the speaker as she searches the ashes of history to tell her family’s story. The spare, narrative style of the poems are filled with depth as the family’s layers come to light.