YesYes Books, Portland, OR
Cover Art: Maria Tomasula
Cover & Interior Design: Alban Fischer
Paperback, 36 pages
December 12, 2019, ISBN 978-1-936919-76-5
Preparing the Body begins with an interrogation:
who hushed/my legs/queried my skirt. These poems rebuke the multitude of ways that women’s agency, self-ownership, and bodily integrity are denied by society, destroyed even. Valdez’s poems inhabit landscapes of violation and reckoning in a soundtrack of cumbia, danzón, and the blues. This collection is a force of nature, a wildfire; its smoke chases the body to, and beyond, the borders of its silence, grief, desire, and undoing.
"The female body is a contested site from birth and over some lives and some stories, this vulnerability leads to a conspiracy of secrets and shame. Norma Liliana Valdez charts this path but also reclaims it with a heartbreaking lyric eye. Her fierce book boldly reifies Morgan Parker’s assertion that 'The body is a person,' a clarion call for survivors."
~ Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Be Recorder and 2019 National Book Award Finalist
"I am utterly astonished by this fiercely gorgeous collection of poems. With her sparks of truth and pain, her righteously transformative resiliency, Norma Liliana Valdez turns language and experience into a series of burning revelations. This book is a flame."
~ Elizabeth Rosner, author of Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory.
"What happens when a woman exercises desires she has been denied? Books like Preparing the Body by Norma Liliana Valdez. These poems are dangers. Their speaker edges the space where performance and desire, although two radical ends of a spectrum Latinx women have learned to live, slip into each other, moment to moment, in the mind of a discontented woman. Lines like 'Close all the doors. Put on the mother mask / the ill-fitting wife mask, and go make dinner,' show a reader just how easily we can, after so much practice, split our self, split a woman, split a mother. They also move beyond preparation and rehearsal in lines like, 'I want something historic and undead'—and take us to before and beyond our mothers, the mothers we are right now, the mothers we are in danger of becoming. In Preparing the Body, we learn that true desire includes a specific and special mourning of our bodies as we have learned to perceive them. Dinner will not come in this book. The mind is busy bracing her own body for bloom.
~ Sara Borjas, author of Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff