November 21, 2001

Mariana Martinez' Controversial Collection of Poems

By Pablo De Sainz

Female, young, and a poet.

Those three words describe Mariana Martinez, the same Mariana Martinez who, at 22, has created a great controversy around her poetry collection titled "No tengo texto ni piel ni mirada" (Universidad Iberoamericana Noroeste, 2001).

Born in Mexico City in 1979, Martinez has lived in Tijuana for the last 15 years. She has published a collection that contains themes such as sexuality, the search for the self, and desperation.

"I think that teenage girls who read my poems can identify with my poetry because I am a gal just like themselves," Martinez says. "I'm a common gal, with the same issues, and I like a guy who doesn't like me, and a guy likes me but I don't like him, you know."

But the controversy was created by a poem in particular, one titled "Por suerte los hombres." In this poem, Martinez deals with the theme of female liberation, of how a woman doesn't need to depend on a man. A feminist poem, without a doubt.

"That poem has been misinterpreted," she says. "Men feel attacked by what I say, but they attack women in their songs, rancheras, corridos. All of that attacks women.

"Once, a reader sent me a letter where he said I hated men. I don't think he read the poem correctly. I'm not attacking anybody, I'm only saying what I've lived."

The poems in "No tengo texto ni piel ni mirada" were written during the eight months Martinez spent studying in Uruguay. Her experiences in that country were written in a diary, where she would also draw figures that reflected her moods. Those same figures appear in the poetry collection.

"In Uruguay it was a daily self-discovery," Martinez says. "It was the first time I was so far from my family, from my friends, from Tijuana."

According to Martinez, Tijuana, the great border city, takes an important role in her poetry.

"The city, Tijuana, what I'm looking at, influences my poetry," she says. "I noticed that when I was in Uruguay. Montevideo is a very calm city, without much movement.

Tijuana, in contrast, has the sun, the earth, the beach, much, much action. Tijuana is the whore we all love so much."

One of the themes that reappear in Martinez's poems is sex, the intimacy between a couple.

"Sex is a metaphor for many things," she says. Of our vulnerability, for example. It is always floating, is where we're the most vulnerable."

Although she's only 22, Martinez has been writing poetry for several years.

"I started to write publicly at the age of 15," she says. "I had a boyfriend and I would write him little things, something like that. Since I was a child, the written word was a form of expression."

The Communication student at the Universidad Iberoame-ricana Noroeste, says she doesn't feel limited for being a poet and a female.

"I believe female writers aren't marginalized," she says. "It's only a matter of having a positive attitude."

A proof of her constant advancement, is the fluity and the direct form her poems have. Martinez's poems can be digested easily.

"I don't like reading complicated stuff," she says. "Maybe that's why my poems are easy, accessible, brief, and with many pictures next to the text."

But this woman is multifacetic. Other fields she has worked in are video and the essay, genre where she's currently working.

"Poetry is very intimate, it has limits," Martinez says. "The essay lends itself to write about themes I wouldn't be able to write about in a poem. In my essays I write about politics, social consciousness."

Female, young, and a poet, we'll have Martinez for a while.

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