Giannina Braschi

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Giannina Braschi (born in 1953) is a Puerto Rican poet, novelist, and essayist who writes in English, Spanish, and Spanglish.


"Ground Zero," from "The Evergreen Review" (2008)

  • "It’s the end of the world. I was excited by the whole situation. Well, if everybody is going to die, die hard, shit, but what do I know? Is this an atomic bomb--the end of the world--the end of the millennium? No more fear of being fired--for typos or tardiness--digressions or recessions--and what a way of being fired--bursting into flames--without two weeks notice--and without six months of unemployment--and without sick leave, vacation, or comp time--without a word of what was to come--on a glorious morning--when nature ran indifferent to the course of man--there came a point when that sunny sky turned into a hellhole of a night—with papers, computers, windows, bricks, bodies falling, and people running and screaming..."
  • "I saw a torso falling--no legs--no head--just a torso. I am redundant because I can’t believe what I saw. I saw a torso falling--no legs--no head--just a torso--tumbling in the air--dressed in a bright white shirt--the shirt of the businessman--tucked in--neatly--under the belt--snugly fastened--holding up his pants that had no legs. He had hit a steel girder--and he was dead--dead for a ducat, dead--on the floor of Krispy Krème--with powdered donuts for a head--fresh out of the oven--crispy and round--hot and tasty--and this businessman--on the ground was clutching a briefcase in his hand--and on his finger, the wedding band. I suppose he thought his briefcase was his life--or his wife--or that both were one--because the briefcase was as tight in hand as the wedding band."

Asalto Al Tiempo (1980)

  • Detrás de la palabra está el silencio. Detrás de lo que suena está la puerta. En cada cosa hay un envés y un pliegue que se oculta. Y lo que se acercaba se cayó y se detuvo lejos en la cercanía. Una expresión se duerme y se levanta. Y lo que estaba allá regresa. Es una forma de volver el mundo a su lugar. Y algo vuelve cuando debiera quedarse recordando.

    Pero si toco el timbre el agua salta y el río vuelve a caer del agua y el cuerpo se levanta y vibra. Y la piedra se despierta y dice canto. Y la mano se transforma en un pañuelo. Y compañeros son el crepúsculo y el viento. Y ese crepúsculo aparece en medio de un relámpago. Fuera hay un pájaro y un árbol y una rama y aquel relámpago. Y sobre todo hay mediodía sin forma. Y de repente todo adquiere movimiento. Dos viajeros se encuentran y sus zapatos bailan. Y chocan la brisa y la mañana. Y corre la gaviota y el conejo vuela. Y corre y corre y corría la corriente. Detrás de eso que corre está la vida. Detrás de ese silencio está la puerta.

    • Translation: Behind the word is silence. Behind what sounds is the door. There is a back and a fold hiding in everything. And what was approaching fell and stopped far away in proximity. An expression falls asleep and rises. And what was over there returns. It's a way to put the world back in its place. And something comes back when it should remain remembering.

      But if I ring the bell, water jumps and a river falls out of the water again. And the body rises and shakes. And the rock wakes and says I'm singing. And a hand turns into a kerchief. And twilight and wind are companions. And this twilight appears amidst the storm. Outside there is a bird and a branch and a tree and that lightning. Above all, there is noon without form. And suddenly, everything acquires movement. Two travelers meet and their shoes dance. And breeze and morning clash. And the seagull runs and the rabbit flies. And runs and runs, and the current ran. Behind what runs is life. Behind that silence is the door.

Other quotes in translation from Asalto al Tiempo (Assault on Time)

  • Behind the word is silence. Behind that silence is forgetfulness.
  • The day jumped today. I'm upside down, it said to me, and I answered, help me take the ceiling down and put it in the street. Then bring the ladder over here and lay it on the floor. If this is how the world is, I said to myself, let it stay this way. But then the phone rang, the alarm rang, the clocks all rang, and everything escaped.

Quotes from El imperio de los suenos‎ (Empire of Dreams) (1994)

  • Me abastecieron los tanques de gasolina y las guerras. Fui soldado de plomo. Marché sobre el humo de la ciudad. Hubo momentos difíciles y hubo: ¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás? Valieron todos lo mismo. Tenía los dos peniques. Pude entrar a la ciudad. Y me cerraron las puertas. Les cerré el alma. No supieron qué pasó. ¿Pasó por aquí mi alma? Cuerpo, te dije, ¿cómo estás? Yo he sido soldado de plomo. La voz que lo dijo no fue lo que dijo. Casi lo juro por el camino. Pero el trayecto, la marcha cargada de barro, los ojos de asfalto, las manos de cal, las piernas de taladro, los ombligos de cemento, resonaron, resonaron, resonaron--los yunques del martillo contra las vigas del cuerpo-- taladrando, taladrando, taladrándome. Marchando al compás, la pared y el cerrojo, el corazón, mi alma, el precipicio de los camiones. Y todo era negro, negro, negro, blanco--como el asfalto. Y el mundo cerró sus puertas--yunques y martillos contra los hombres dormidos--las puertas del corazón, ciudades en todas partes y soldaditos de plomo.
  • I have been a fortune teller. Ages ago I told the forture on buffoons and madmen. You remember. I had a small voice like a grain of sand and enormous hands. Madmen walked over my hands. I told them the truth. I could never lie to them. And now I am sorry.
  • I have just turned life into a proverb. I just killed it.
  • On the top floor of the Empire State a shepherd has stood up to sing and dance.
  • Boom! Boom! He's dead. He's dead. Mariquita has killed the Narrator. Revolution in the Intimate Diary of Solitude. He's dead. He's dead. But he's not really dead. He has just told me that he doesn't like agressive women like me. He has just told me that there is too much resentment in my words. And he has just told me that I said, "Boom! Boom!" and I didn't kill anyone. After all, I'm not a feminist. I don't have to be a feminist to call myself Mariquita Samper. I'm sustained by my name and my person. I'm an egg and nothing more.

YO-YO BOING! (1998)

  • If I respected languages like you do, I wouldn't write at all. El muro de Berlín fue derribado. Why can't I do the same? Desde la torre de Babel, las lenguas han sido siempre una forma de divorciarnos del resto de la humanidad. Poetry must find ways of breaking distance. I'm not reducing my audience. On the contrary, I'm going to have a bigger audience with the common markets--in Europe--in America. And besides, all languages are dialects that are made to break new grounds. I feel like Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio, and I even feel like Garcilaso forging a new language. Saludo al nuevo siglo, el siglo del nuevo lenguaje de América, y le digo adiós a la retórica separatista y a los atavismos.

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