In this collection of 65 short poems, Roberta Quance exemplifies the range, vitality and mysticism of work by one of Spain's foremost, if controversial, contemporary female poets, drawing on the contents of a number of Spanish collections. In Atencia's poetry the poetic subject is often seen as someone who occupies an interior space, either crossing over the threshold from the outside world to an inner one (a garden, a house, a castle), or moving from the inner, home space to one even more interior: the world of dreams and imagination and hope, which can project outward into liminal spaces of the sky or the sea. A very basic paradox of Christian mystical experience- of abasement and magnification - haunts Atencia's work. She has made her own one of its fundamental tenets: the purging of self, the shedding of all trace of worldly attachment in order to ‘make room' for experience of a different reality: the self's sense of ‘nothingness' in the face of beauty is a prized moment in and of itself; it is sublime. Atencia's definitive manner: classically shaped verse in the tradition of the‘pure poetry' of the Generation of 1927, which makes myth of a womanly self, is amply explored in this first major English edition of her work to appear since 1987. Maria Victoria Atencia was born in Malaga (Andalusia) in 1931 and has lived there or in the country thereabouts all of her life Although trained originally as a pianist she chose a vocation for poetry, instead, publishing her first work in 1953 and continuing to publish to the present day. In 2010 she was given the Federico Garcia Lorca prize for poetry, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement. Roberta Quance is Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Queen's University Belfast. She is author of books on mythology and modernity in modern literature and desire in the poetry of Lorca as well as articles on women writers and artists associated with the Generation of 1927 and translations of work by Carlos Piera.
Reading Legend of Myself, we may feel drawn from our ‘ephemeral natures’ and our ‘menaced temporalities’ toward realms intuited but not before known. If so, we will have experienced the power of poetry—and of translation—to conjure worlds beyond, contiguous with our own.
Linda D. Metzler, Bulletin of Spanish Studies
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