Across the Line / Al otro lado
The Poetry of Baja California
Harry Polkinhorn & Mark Weiss, editors
382 pages perfectbound
"If you can't make it across the border, Across the Line / Al otro lado is next best thing to a trip to Mexico's
Baja California. The astonishing range of fifty-three poetics voices, traditional native chants and popular corridos which are generously presented in bilingual format is rooted in a time and place that is both
timeless and in constant flux. The poems are by turns full of yearning, lyric, exultant, pungent, mournful, fast-paced as the streets of Tijuana or slow as a cactus growing beyond the dunes. Baja Californians are a population on the move, alive to change, living on the edge, and the poetry in this lovingly-translated anthology
conveys the feels of gritty towns and cities, burning deserts, lonely mountains, a huge sky still crowded with stars, the wind blowing in off the Pacific or the Sea of Cortez, the nearness of gray whales and pelicans, the uncertainties of isolation, the jittery rhythms of urban life, the United Sates forever looming on the other side
of the border. And I am happy to say that these poets value the beauty and importance of Baja California's unique and fragile ecosystems; in Baja California moonlight still matters."
- Homer Aridjis
"...a long overdue eye-opener...Across the Line / Al otro lado should be required reading in our high schools and colleges. ...the poets...are always interesting, and sometimes astounding."
- Luis Albert Urrea
"Across the Line / Al otro lado is an important addition to the growing library of Mexcian poetry available in bilingual edition. Polkinhorn and Weiss have undertaken an enormous labor of love, and to a considerable extent pull it off successfully."
- Margaret Randall, American Book Review
"With its deserts and mountains, Baja California has long been the wildest part of Mexico's sparely populated north, and it was only recently settled. Its border towns, Tijuana and Mexicali, have swollen to monstrous proportions, and, as evidenced by this remarkable new bilingual anthology, many of the region's poets explore the degradation of their urban border culture. ('This city wounds like a fish bone stuck in our throats,' writes Jose Javier Villareal.) Yet while some poets focus on the sordid aspects of border life, others see 'the spiny haughtiness of the cacti / wrapped in their green and bitter silence' (Raul Antonio Cota) or hear 'the reptile's arid purr sweeping the skin of the desert' (Elizabeth Algravez). Describing a six-foot-tall tumbleweed that stops traffic in downtown Tijuana, Heriberto Yepez call is a 'sly intimation / of the desert's imminent return.' ...Broad-ranging and insightful, this is recommended for all poetry and Spanish-language collections."
- Library Journal