Witnessing the Hand in Flight: On reading Alicia Kozameh's Mano en vuelo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

The tragic and macabre circumstances which inspired the production of the extended poem Mano en vuelo – Kozameh describes reacting to a news bulletin about a bomb in Iraq, imagining a child who is blown to pieces, and whose hand flies into the air, tracing an arc – offer a literal and stark way in to the text, understanding it as ‘a specific response to US aggression in the Middle East’ (Breckenridge). However, the reader previously acquainted with Alicia Kozameh’s earlier work might also be drawn to interpreting this poem’s lexicon of overcharged words such as ‘testigo, culpas, lisiado’, within the broader framework of the torture and violence of Argentina’s Guerra Sucia (1976-83). A third reading, suggested by the overall trajectory of the poem and its central image of a hand in flight, focuses on the hand as associated with the writer, and its flight as representing the poetic act. An act which aspires, reaches beyond, yet ultimately falls back to reality. This reading is highlighted by Bertone and by Breckenridge. Bearing these approaches in mind, I undertake a close reading of Mano en vuelo, exploring possible ways of comprehending how it speaks eloquently about the poetic act, whilst evoking and to some extent exorcising the violence which – whether in Iraq, Argentina or elsewhere – continually threatens to engulf its source of life. I analyse in particular the ambivalence the poem manifests towards both the practice of testimony and the aesthetizing of trauma, since therein lies much of its power and universality.
Alicia Kozameh – Mano en vuelo (Córdoba: Alción, 2009)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHasta el Hueso
Subtitle of host publicationNuevos Asedios a la Literatura de Alicia Kozameh
EditorsMaría A Semilla Durán
Pages209-241
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Publication series

Namealter/nativas: Latin American Cultural Studies Journal
ISSN (Print)2168-8451

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