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The Academy Offices June 24, 2003 From the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, Mónica de la Torre came to the United States in 1993 on a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Columbia University in New York City.

Her first book of original poetry in English, Talk Shows, was published in 2007 by Switchback Books, followed by Public Domain (Roof Books) in 2008.

She coedited, with Michael Wiegers, the collection Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon Press, 2002) and is also the coauthor of the book Appendices, Illustrations, & Notes (Smart Art Press, 2000) with artist Terence Gower. She edited and translated the volume Poems by Gerardo Deniz, and has translated numerous other Spanish-language poets.

About her work, the poet Mary Jo Bang has written: "Rather than relying on false certainties and pat recollections, de la Torre offers up a fine-tuned sense of the ridiculous, a world of tomfool capers with a hint of the macabre."

She has served as the poetry editor of The Brooklyn Rail and lives in New York City, where she works as a senior editor of BOMB magazine.

Demolition Derby

Mónica de la Torre
                  Sonya's so good that all the guys 
pick on her, so the evening's narrative goes. I've heard she wears 
yellow t-shirts each time to match her hair. Last time her tennis 
shoes got so dusty that she had to throw them out because there 
was no way on earth that they could be white again. 
                  Trunks shrink like deflated accor-
dions, like melodramatic arguments after they've met face to 
face with someone's indifference. A baby cries and pouts 
while her mother is trying to scoop more Velveta on to her 
nacho. The father is strung out on something, someone in 
back of us says. A teenager with severe acne turns around 
and fires a dart full of cavities into my gaze. We give in to the 
pleasure of destruction for the sheer sake of waste. What 
inside, the collision, the jerk on the nape that makes the 
driver wonder whether this one's it. Swallow me dust while 
the crowd cheers and claps its French fries away into the 
space between a nearby neon and the floodlights gathering 
an army of many sized moths.

Reprinted from American Poet, Fall 2002. Copyright © 2002 by Mónica de la Torre. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Reprinted from American Poet, Fall 2002. Copyright © 2002 by Mónica de la Torre. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Mónica de la Torre

Mónica de la Torre

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mónica de la Torre is co-editor, with Michael Wiegers, of the collection Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry

by this poet

poem
Victor got a real sense of power
from making his own raisins. He’d buy
pounds and pounds of grapes
and leave them to dry 
on the kitchen table.


Theresa didn’t want to hear about 
her ex-husband’s cancer. Not on Father’s Day.
She took a train all night 
to have breakfast with her cousin. 
All Sunday she rode
poem
I.
You thought this would be 
a dance lesson,
things were easier then.
No marimbas, no clarinets;
only a longing for the fun
to begin.
Rain came down.
Nothing seems as remote
as the days you didn't 
have to think about it:
always already there,
gushing out. Control
was required to stop ideas 
from overflowing.
poem

Describe what color is not.

It’s missing a thingness.

To the point of becoming, color camouflages supporting structures.

A vague interior finds in an exterior specific correlation.

Even if shapeless, it materializes in splotches, bursts, or blobs.

How mood-like