Benito Pastoriza Iyodo
|Benito Pastoriza Iyodo|
|Born||Humacao, Puerto Rico|
|Occupation||Poet, author, essayist|
Benito Pastoriza Iyodo is a Puerto Rican author of poetry, fiction and literary articles. He is known for the daring topics of his literary creations, which are both lyrical and thought provoking. He writes primarily in Spanish. The thematic content of his works vary - including the roles and expectations placed on men and women in a changing, yet conservative society, the role of love and perseverance in the face of inhumanity and condemnation and a wake-up call to a higher level of respect for nature, man and differing ways of life.”
- 1 Biography
- 2 Writing philosophy
- 3 Books: Poetry and fiction
- 4 Other publications
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Benito Pastoriza Iyodo was born in Humacao, Puerto Rico and has lived in various states in the United States as well as on his native island. The author’s observations of New York’s Lower East Side, Florida, Chicago, Texas, California and Puerto Rico greatly influenced his writing – especially impacting his view of masculinity, poverty, cultural identity and women’s issues.
Education and early awards
Spanish was the language spoken at home during Pastoriza Iyodo's upbringing, but he attended English-speaking classes when the family lived in the mainland US. He graduated from the Colegio Universitario de Cayey (University of Puerto Rico at Cayey), where he studied English. He also engrossed himself in Hispanic Studies and won two poetry prizes at the university for: "Canción para la existencia" ("Song for existence") and "Hojas" ("Leaves").(See Author's Awards) While still at the University of Puerto Rico, he was awarded a prize by the Ateneo Puertorriqueño for his book of poetry entitled Gotas verdes para la ciudad (Green drops for the city).
Pastoriza Iyodo holds a master's degree in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara and he completed his doctoral course work in Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago.
Pastoriza Iyodo has been interviewed several times and the dialogue usually returns to his philosophy on literary creation. In a 2006 interview for Chasqui (the Spanish-language literary magazine at Arizona State University) he was asked (rendered here in translated form): “What do you believe is the role of the writer in today’s dysfunctional society?” To this, Pastoriza Iyodo replied: “A little bit of everything. We must be chroniclers, observers of changing societies - we have to be the flashing yellow light saying: watch out - be careful - where are we going? - let’s not throw ourselves off a cliff. A writer has to be the pulse of a changing language that is constantly reinventing itself. But the writer must not forget that he should also cultivate an art whose intrinsic role is also to entertain, to make one laugh, think and meditate on the important things in life.”
Books: Poetry and fiction
Lo coloro de lo incoloro
His first book of poetry published in the United States – Lo coloro de lo incoloro (The color of the colorless) won a prize from the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize competition in 1979-1980. From the beginning, Pastoriza Iyodo has always considered himself to be a poet. His poetry defies Spanish-language poetic conventions, showing a propensity to put contemporary devices to good use in the Spanish language. One poem may resemble the traditional sonnet, while another may flow in quasi-sentences bereft of punctuation (à la e. e. cummings) as if it were to be read in a single – exhilarating breath.
Cuestion de hombres
In the 1980s he began to experiment with the narrative and won his second prize from the Ateneo Puertorriqueño for the short story “El indiscreto encanto” (“The Indiscrete Charm”). By the mid-nineties he had written a collection of nine stories, all of which featured male protagonists. The Latino Press (CUNY) published Cuestión de hombres (A Matter of Men) in 1996.
A second edition of this title was published in December 2006, adding a prologue by Carlos Manuel Rivera, Ph.D. (currently a professor at Bronx Community College). This edition was preceded by a review in Chasqui: Revista de Literatura Latinoamericana at Arizona State University (translated into English):
Cuestión de hombres... lays out, in a poetic manner, in diaphanous language with innovative and daring images, the evolution of man from youth to adulthood, not defined by age, but through the encounter with one’s self.
Cartas a la sombra de tu piel
Then the author returned to poetry, with two collections released in rapid succession (2002 and 2003). The first of the two books, Cartas à la sombra de tu piel (Letters to the shadow of your skin) chronicles the birth of the prefigured love, in all of its aspects: through its metaphysical inception, physical appearance, passion and solidarity in a society that insists on the continued taboo nature of same-sex partners. As stressed by an article in the Caribbean Quarterly:
“The poems and prose pieces in each section portray a world that is vibrant, charged with life, vivid images of lovers in warm embraces, feelings of nostalgia, reminiscences on past erotic experiences and anxious anticipation of future ones. ... Bilingualism functions as an important rhetorical strategy and is demonstrated in different ways. Some poems are written in English entirely but most are in Spanish. ... This switching between linguistic modes is dominant in poems in which the poet advocates a ready acceptance and tolerance of difference – suggesting that sexuality is not limited to heterosexuality, in the same way that the same emotion can be communicated in different languages. ... Cartas a la sombra de tu piel is an intriguing addition to Spanish Caribbean poetry in general and specifically to the area of queer theory, a contemporary approach to literature and culture which developed out of gay and lesbian criticism, and regards sexual identities as fluid. It should provide interesting reading and generate much discussion."
Elegías de septiembre
Elegías de septiembre (September Elegies), on the other hand, focuses on man’s inhumanity to both nature and man. This collection of poems was published in 2003, when talk of global warming had not yet reached the heightened pitch of An Inconvenient Truth. It begins with a section entitled "Natura Viva Natura Mortua." This Latin phrase could be mistaken for a “still-life”, but what it represents is a wake-up call for man to change his insensitive and apathetic attitude toward nature, which – once beautiful – is being destroyed by our selfish consumerism. Similar attitudes toward poverty and geopolitics are also explored – in beautiful poetic fashion – in a way to make one think and meditate on the causes and cures of the human condition. In the prologue, Mexican writer Estela Porter Seale states (as translated into English):
"This work could be described as a thesis condemning optimistic rationalism [that believes] “ours is the best of all possible worlds”, advocating against all forms of extreme individualism that diminish the possibility of a harmonious coexistence with all things...." [From the Prologue by Estela Porter Seale in Pastoriza Iyodo, Benito. Elegías de septiembre. Editorial Tierra Firme, Mexico City, 2003, pp 5-9.]
Nena, nena de mi corazón
Nena, nena de mi corazón (Beloved, beloved of my heart) is a new collection of short stories released in December 2006, at the same time as the second edition of Cuestión de hombres (A Matter of Men). While the protagonists in the latter work were men, Nena features female characters in tales of Latino displacement often resulting in transference and transformation in the process. The principal characters circulate and circumnavigate within multiple geographic, political, historical and social spheres pertaining to the ever-changing Hispanic reality. A review published in Criticas Magazine states:
“The 16 parts, … are presented in the form of vignettes, epistles, chronicles, or commentaries. In spite of major hardships, the characters keep on searching for a better life in places that seem indifferent and even hostile. Women are central to these tales. … This work questions the motives that lead people to abandon their homelands and underlines the resiliency of those who migrate to foreign lands in order to fulfill their dreams.”
El agua del paraíso
El agua del paraíso (The Waters of Paradise) is a novel in which the author weaves a story of four generations of women by intertwining history, legend and beauty with adversity and challenges at every turn. Set in the tropics, with the sea, rivers and waterfalls, the poetic presenation of the tale draws the reader into the cinematic pace of the book. The resolution of intimate conflicts sheds light on the effect of society's expectations on the nature of all types of relationships - making the novel both entertaining and thought-provoking. (See reviews titled "Storytelling at its Best" and "El agua del paraíso: Novela en referenciales poéticos") El agua del paraíso- Book Reviews As stated in "Storytelling at its Best":
"...This is no ordinary chronicling of events. A cinematic approach vacilates between past and present, providing just enough information to leave you wanting more. The novel is constructed by placing stories within stories ... The author often sets the larger historical stage, but the protagonists as storytellers make the sagas more intimate by tying each account to a specific set of individuals, in a particular time and within a defined set of moral values."
A Matter of Men
A Matter of Men is the bilingual version of Cuestión de hombres. The introduction by Bradley Warren Davis not only explores the content and techniques utilized in the stories; he also examines the cinematic nature of Pastoriza Iyodo's works, which is particularly evident in both English and Spanish in this book. The book review titled "A Matter of Men: A poetic Translation" speaks to the book's "poetic beauty in Spanish" as well as "the magnificent artistry done in its translation." It goes on to state:
"...What makes this collection unique is the insightful introduction written by ... Dr. Bradley Warren Davis. He examines each story shedding light into the labyrinths of magical narrations..."
September Elegies is the bilingual version of the poetry collection Elegías de septiembre. The bilingual edition, published in 2010, was reviewed for Críticas, Library Journal's Spanish Language Authors and Book Reviews and Multicultural Review
Prostíbulo de la palabra = Brothel of the Word
Prostíbulo de la palabra, published in 2012, is the author's fourth book of poetry in Spanish. This first edition includes the English translation of the collection (Brothel of the Word) along with notes in bilingual format. Use of the term “brothel” goes beyond the world associated with the sexual act. The poetic subject moves from the confines of a building (the brothel) to those spaces where prostitution manifests itself in all things impure and many times in the masked manipulation of language and humanity within a broader and more global brothel.
Pastoriza Iyodo continues collaborating with academic and literary magazines in the United States. Literal has published his interviews of distinguished poets Giaconda Belli and Isaac Goldemberg, essays and book reviews. His writings have been published in the magazines: En Rojo, Línea Plural, Taller Literario, Cupey, Luz en Arte y Literatura, Los Perdedores, Mystralight, Vagamundos, Carpeta de Poesía Luz, Hofstra Hispanic Review Fall 2005 Issue), Visible and Literal. His works also appear in U.S. and world anthologies: Poetic Voices Without Borders (Vols I & II), AMOR DEL MISMO SEXO, Antología internacional de la narrativa Carmen Baez, La noche y los guerreros de fuego, Con otra voz, Uno, nosotros, todos, Otro canto, Minotauro, Fronteras de lo imposible, La primavera ... la sangre altera, Plaza de los poetas José Pedroni, Narradores y Poetas en Homenaje, Antología de la narrativa de los deseos, Ejercicios de libertad, 4 letras, Antología literaria Profesor Di Marco, [des]-contar el hambre and Cuando quieres mirar a las nubes.
- García, Heidi Ann. Review: Pastoriza Iyodo, Benito. Cuestión de hombres. Bronx: Latino Press 1996. 79 pp. ISBN 1-884912-08-7. Chasqui: Revista de Literatura Latinoamericana, Vol. 35, Número 2, Nov. 2006, pp. 157-161.
- Chicano/Latino Literary Prize - History
- García, Heidi Ann. Review: Pastoriza Iyodo, Benito. Cuestión de hombres. Bronx: Latino Press 1996. 79 pp. ISBN 1-884912-08-7.Chasqui: Revista de Literatura Latinoamericana, Vol. 35, Número 2, Nov. 2006, pp. 157-161.
- Paulette A. Ramsey. Review: Cartas a la sombra de tu piel by Benito Pastoriza Iyodo. México: Editoral Tierra Firme, 2002. 80 pp., Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 2, June 2005, pp. 100-105.
- Nena, nena de mi corazón. Reviewed by Liliana Wendroff of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Criticas Magazine. February 15, 2007.
- El agua del paraíso- Book Reviews - http://www.criticadelibros.org/1436325676
- A Matter of Men - Book Review - http://www.reviewscout.com/1436360307
- Críticas, Library Journal's Spanish Language Book Reviews http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/book-review/52564516/september-elegies
- Multicultural Review http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/book-review/55853119/september-elegies