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To the Editors:

In the spirit of continuing the work that Chicago Review has begun by making Infrarealist writing available in John Burns's excellent translations, I feel compelled to point out a conspicuous lacuna in the portfolio from issue 60.3--the exclusion of Jose Vicente Anaya. Despite the fact that he was a founding member of the Infrarealists, wrote one of the group's three manifestos (perhaps the first), and was included in Pajaro de calor: Ocho poetas Infrarrealistas (the Infrarealist anthology published in 1976), Anaya has been relegated to a couple footnotes in Ruben Medina's Infrarealist portfolio. He haunts the dossier, appearing in photos and on flyers, but his writing is not represented. As Vicente's friend and translator, I would like to address some of the issues surrounding his exclusion, and offer some of his work to fill in the gap.

I respect the fact that Medina was a member of the group in the seventies and so has extensive firsthand information--this is apparent in his introduction--but as with any history, especially one that has been subject to so much popular myth, legend, and fictionalization as that of Infrarealism, there are multiple perspectives and representational struggles. Of course, Roberto Bolano--who in any case is responsible for the current surge of interest in the Infras--seized the dominant narrative and crafted himself and Mario Santiago as the centers of gravity around which other poets orbited. Medina, without exploding this myth too much (anything with Bolano is great for marketing), seems to have taken over in his self-appointed role as official administrator of the legacy of Infrarealism.

Medina also edited a Spanish-language anthology in which Anaya-along with the poets Lisa Johnson and Lorena de Larrocha--was redacted. Since Medina has positioned himself as the gatekeeper of Infrarealism, it seems unlikely that Anaya's exclusion was disclosed to Chicago Review, but it is worth pointing out that there is a precedent for publicly addressing the issue. When the Spanish-language Infrarealist anthology was published, the popular Mexican magazine Proceso ran an article including Anaya's perspective called "An Exclusionary and Censored Anthology." I have to say, Medina's editorial habits are quite ironic, as he has come to embody exactly what Infrarealism positioned itself against: in Medina's own words, "the outsized authority and influence of a single figure." In his censorship, self-canonization, and self-promotion, Medina has reproduced the status quo that the Infrarealists originally opposed.

Medina attempts to justify the exclusion from Chicago Review with a short sentence buried at the bottom of footnote one: "Anaya left the group in 1976." The slightest bit of research exposes the emptiness of such a justification, leaving it unclear exactly why Medina and Burns have chosen to retrospectively purge him. Anaya left Mexico City at the end of 1977 to bum around Mexico for four years, shortly after Bolano left for Spain. They both left during what Anaya calls the "Infrarealist diaspora," when many original members dispersed and moved abroad. If I'm not mistaken, Medina himself left for California shortly afterwards. Anaya denies breaking with the group; he claims, as has Bolano, that Infrarealism ended after the diaspora. This is obviously contentious; there are varied perspectives here, from Bolano's narcissistic assertion that he and Mario Santiago were the only Infrarealists, to those who believe that the Infras are still a current movement that includes young poets born after the diaspora. I am not in any position to say who is right or wrong in this; in fact, I tend to agree with what Heriberto Yepez said in an interview with Anaya in Replicante magazine: that the three manifestos presented three different visions of the movement, that there were always several different Infrarealisms. ([dagger]) In the end, this is all mostly irrelevant to the undeniable fact that Anaya was an Infrarealist and therefore deserves a place in the group's archive.

To be clear, Anaya was an active part of the movement at its inception and during its most notorious years. That Medina and Burns refused to include, at the very least, Anaya's manifesto is baffling. In an attempt to remedy this exclusion, I present a translation of Anaya's Infrarealist manifesto, "For a Vital and Unlimited Art," along with the poems "Morgue 1," "Morgue 2," and "Conversation with Armando Pereira." ([double dagger])

([dagger]) / Jose Vicente Anaya and Heriberto Yepez, "Los infrarrealistas ... Testimonios, manifiestos y poemas," Replicante 3.9 (2006): 137.

([double dagger]) Editorial Note: Chicago Review will be publishing Joshua Pollock's translations of these pieces by Anaya, along with a brief introduction, in our next issue (63.3).
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Author:Pollock, Joshua
Publication:Chicago Review
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 22, 2019

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