88 pages, softcover, poetry
also available as a Kindle book
Cover Art: Heteo Pérez Rojas, Alas y Hojas/ Wings and Leaves.
In this bi-lingual collection of poems, Luz de Todos los Tiempos / Light of All Times, Mexican poet Moisés Villavicencio Barras explores the idea of crossing from a multitude of perspectives, and comes again and again from his various journeys, back to the central figures of his parents. This is a book of love and homage, as well as a tender but honest exploration of what it means to grow into adulthood and reconcile oneself with the past.
Writing of his family and childhood in Mexico and also of his own children growing up in the Midwest, Villavicencio Barras has a strong sense of himself as survivor: “I am the one who still walks the prairies / inventing my self / speaking the language of things” he writes in “Ancestros”/ “Ancestors.” Having lived now in Wisconsin for over ten years, Villavicencio Barras moves between languages and cultures, between the natural world and the city, between dreams, memories and the day’s sharper delineations. As poet Roberta Hill puts it, “his self-reflective vision of living at once in the North and South awakens us to what is near, just outside the window, and to what is far, the jaguar in the ravine.” Distance brings desire; as Wisconsin’s Fourth Poet Laureate, Bruce Dethlefsen, acknowledges, these poems give us “a dark, familiar theater of heartfelt longing.” And yet, the poet responds by finding gifts in the mundane, “like that small rainbow of car oil on the sidewalk.”
Moisés Villavicencio Barras is a Mexican poet, translator, fiction writer, and co-founder of Cantera Verde, a magazine that has been one of the most significant literary publications in Mexico for the last twenty years. His first book of poetry May among Voices was published in 2001. His poetry has been selected for several Mexican anthologies, magazines, and CDs. His children’s book Urarumo (2005) was published and distributed for the Department of Education in Oaxaca, México. He received two writing fellowships through the National Commission for the Arts in Mexico (1993-1994 and 1996-1997). His poetry also has been published in the United States (Verse Wisconsin, Beatitude Golden Anniversary)and Canada (Contemporary Verse 2). His newest children’s book, Tito, the Lost Bellybutton, was published in 2012 by the Department of Public Instruction of Oaxaca, México. Moisés Villavicencio Barras has lived in Madison, Wisconsin, since 2001 and teaches second grade. Visit the author’s blog.
Audio & Video
3 poems read by Cynthia Lin
Listen to poems & an interview on Radio Lit
Yo miraba las manos de mi madre
ir de a un lado a otro de los platos.
El limón se comía la grasa
y la ceniza el cochambre.
El agua sucia era
para los jazminez y los geranios.
Pensé muchas veces en sus raíces
retorciéndose como los intestinos de los gatos
atropellados en la noche de mi barrio.
Sordo escuché las quejas de mi madre
hacia los posillos de estrecha boca
y los vasos de plástico.
La vi sangrar lágrimas en monosílabos.
Mi padre me dijo mientras se afeitaba:
Los platos, los desperdicios y rosarios
son asuntos de mujeres.
Uno hace las cosas duras que le tocan al hombre:
Encontrar los yacimientos de peces,
masticar tabaco y tirar las redes.
Hoy yo también me quejo de la redondez
estúpida de los platos de tantos vasos
y de tantas tazas.
I used to watch my mother’s hands
going round and round on dinner plates.
Lemon ate grease and ashes grime,
filthy water fed jasmines and geraniums.
I often thought about their roots twisting
like the intestines of cats killed
at night in my barrio.
Deaf, I listened to my mother complain
about our glasses with narrow mouths
and our plastic mugs.
I saw her bleed tears in monosyllables.
My father said to me while he shaved:
Dishes, leftovers, and rosaries are women’s business.
We men do the hard work:
Fishing, hunting and chewing tobacco.
Now I complain about the roundness of dishes,
so many cups, so many glasses.
I have known this marvelous poet, Moisés Villavicencio Barras, for many years. It is a pleasure to finally see his work published in a bi-lingual edition. His poety reflects devotion to Mexico, to his native Oaxaca, and to his family. The histories here, and the mysteries, come from the hand of a poet who should be read, whomust be heard. One finds here a mind focused on the beauty of language and the deep song of loveliness and love.—Neeli Cherkovski, author of Leaning Against Time
Read Moisés Villavicencio Barras’s poems in Light of All Times and enter a dark, familiar theater of heartfelt longing. A theater skillfully built of forceful words and raw beauty. Do not trust the coyote at the crossing; trust the power of the eye, the ear, and the heart of this poet. —Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2011-2012
Moisés Villavicencio Barras’s second collection of poetry offers us in lush, sensual language his childhood in Oaxaca and his Mazatec ancestors, his family life both there and in the U. S., and the experience of belonging to both far and near. In these poems, his self-reflective vision of living at once in the North and South awakens us to what is near, just outside the window, and to what is far, the jaguar in the ravine. He is a poet of such imaginative grace that, even after I’ve closed the book, I want to listen and be vulnerable enough to hear a voice speak this way again. In this bravely envisioned collection of poems, we read and feel transformed in its light, having grown closer to one another and to the earth, the source of song and beauty. —Roberta Hill, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Readers, you are lucky. It is not everyday one gets to meet a new poet, to immerse oneself in a world at once familiar and strange. Moisés Villaciencio Barras is a well known writer in his native Mexico, but to most of us noteamericanos, his voice will be new and exciting. Even though he lives and teaches in Madison, Wisconsin, the world of his bilingual volume of poems, Light of All Times/Luz de Todos los Tiempos (Cowfeather Press, 2013), is not that of Madison’s familiar streets. It is a mythic, timeless world, the world of the ancestors.—Judith Barisonzi, in Verse Wisconsin 113-114