Luis Felipe Fabre
translated by JD Pluecker
“There goes the poet Salvador Novo aboard a sleepless taxi. Did you notice his lips? The intense red of his closed lips? Pray he doesn’t open them. People say he has a sharp, poisonous tongue. They say he’s a snake. They say he’s a bitch. They say he’s a whore. I don’t know him personally. I’ve only read his poems, the ones he has written, the ones he’ll write soon.”
Luis Felipe Fabre’s Writing with Caca essays a lyric investigation of the Mexican modernist writer Salvador Novo. Translated with verve by JD Pluecker, the book centers around an investigation and reclaiming of Los Anales, the original, derogatory nickname given to Novo and his compadres in the modernist group Los Contemporáneos. Through Novo, Fabre conjures a poetics of the anus: It is not in vain that the sphinx and the sphincter share a single etymological origin, he writes. Similar to Robert Duncan’s HD Book, Susan Howe’s My Emily Dickinson, and Pierre Michon’s Rimbaud the Son, Fabre’s Writing with Caca is as much biography as auto-biography, and brings to the US an important work by an important contemporary Mexican writer.
Praise for the book:
A page-turner biography of the poet and writer Salvador Novo whose queer shoulder pushed every wall open. In here is Novo’s deviant knowledge of what the shit and anus reveal of life, yet “resists is sublimation.” This book is not for the timid, or maybe it is precisely for them! —CAConrad
Luis Felipe Fabre, one of the most exciting and virtuosic Mexican poets of his generation, knows a lot of good shit. He knows a lot about Salvador Novo, the scatalogical Mexican poet of the early 20th century who, according to Octavio Paz, wrote “not with blood but with caca.” This terrific book (translated with acrobatic brilliance by John Pluecker), is a work of literary history, literary criticism, poetry, and excretory theory that travels from the Aztecs to Sor Juana to the Mexican Revolution and to contemporary times. Fabre makes a compelling argument for the importance of Novo’s writing with caca, and for the importance of celebrating writers who are driven by the “urge to take a crap on all universal literature.” —Daniel Borzutzky
About the Author and Translator:
Luis Felipe Fabre (Mexico City) is a poet and critic. He has published a volume of essays, Leyendo agujeros, the poetry collections Cabaret Provenza, La sodomía en la Nueva España, Poemas de terror y de misterio, and the book Escribir con caca. He is the editor of two anthologies of contemporary Mexican Divino Tesoro and La Edad de Oro, and Arte & Basura, an anthology of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro’s poetry. He has been curator of the Poesía en Voz Alta Festival and Todos los originales serán destruídos, an exhibition of contemporary art made by poets. His chapbook Sor Juana and Other Monsters was also translated by John Pluecker and published in a bilingual edition as part of the UDP Señal Series. Novo en el Mictlán (Holy Shit) was on stage by the direction of Benjamin Lazar and Thomas Gonzalez in 2016.
JD Pluecker works with language, that is, a living thing, a thing of life and history. Their undisciplinary work inhabits the intersections of writing, history, translation, art, interpreting, bookmaking, queer/trans aesthetics, non-normative poetics, language justice, and cross-border cultural production. They have translated numerous books from the Spanish, including Gore Capitalism (Semiotext(e), 2018) and Antígona González (Les Figues Press, 2016), and Writing with Caca by Luis Felipe Fabre (Green Lantern Press, 2021) and Trash by Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny (Deep Vellum Press, 2022). Their book of poetry and image, Ford Over, was released in 2016 from Noemi Press, and in 2019 Lawndale Art Center supported the publication of the artist book, The Unsettlements: Dad. From 2010-2020, they worked as part of the transdisciplinary collaborative Antena Aire and from 2015-2020 with the local social justice interpreting collective Antena Houston. JD has exhibited work at Blaffer Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, Project Row Houses, and more. More info at www.jdpluecker.com and www.antenaantena.org.