Brenda Cárdenas' chapbook of poetry From the Tongues of Brick and Stone was published by Momotombo Press in 2005. She also coedited Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (2001). Her work has appeared in a range of publications including Achiote Seeds, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, U.S. Latino Literature Today, Prairie Schooner, RATTLE: Poetry for the 21st Century, and Poetry Daily, among others. With Sonido Ink (quieto), a spoken word and music ensemble, she co-produced and released the CD Chicano,Illnoize: The Blue Island Sessions (2001). Cárdenas is an assistant professor in the Creative Writing program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
In Boomerang, Brenda Cárdenas creates a vibrant, syncretic space open to many voices, perspectives, and tongues. Here, whatever is made is in motion. Cárdenas casts a line of English, and it returns to her in Spanish. She spins lyrically taut free verse; sculpts prose poems, sapphics, and sonnets; and punches the rhythms of spoken word in what Juan Felipe Herrera has called "a sonic calligraphy, hand-thrown spirals of spirit." Whether telling stories of displaced peoples and places, responding to Chicano art, or meditating on language itself, Cárdenas strikes a deliberately tenuous balance between self-assurance and loss, all the while on a journey toward the interconnectedness that she calls home.
Brenda writes with the serious and sensual delight of a belly-dancing bruja shaman woman. . . . There are no borders between the dead and the living, lovers and strangers, intellect and body heat, Nahuatl and Caló, official text and love-sound. . . . Cárdenas is a synthesizer tuned to Lorca, Anzaldúa, Guillén, Celan, Cortázar, Burciaga, and Coyote. At a time when minimalist text and line are the dominant poetics, Brenda Cárdenas dissolves ancient monuments and sets the meter for the new boom! Incredible, essential, and a fearless voice of power.
-Juan Felipe Herrera,
author of Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems
Coyote, he never learned the high concept.
He's still rapping at rave parties,
Skateboarding under deconstruction,
past computer networks
(keeps his Olivetti electric in the closet).
Everyone wonders when he'll catch up
like his sister, the computer hacking CEO
of a major pharmaceutical company.
Baby, hers are smart drugs—
performance art provocateurs
tricking the tricksters,
not the white heat Coyote shoots, snorts, swallows.
Hey honey, I can fly
through Ginsberg's naked streets at dawn.
Coyote, he don't quite get it,
applies queer theory to his reading of Burroughs riding freight train.
In a post-structuralist world
you ride on top of the axles
underneath either end of a boxcar
and watch the sparks fly!
Don't get a cinder in your eye.
That's the cyberpunk way to get
your mojado butt from the frontera
to the fields or the service sweatshops.
Only if coyote don't find you first,
and if he does, he'll eat you alive,
crunch you down like chicharrón
because he don't want no
vegan dietary restrictions;
no one gonna lay that trip on him.
He'd rather gorge himself on your sweet meat
until he autodeconstructs,
blows himself to bits
all up and down the Rio Grande.
And in the time it takes you to find
his plastic voodoo in your Lucky Charms,
he'll be warming a stool in the cantina
at the next border town.
How's that for signification theory.