This review is going to begin with a brief history lesson.
14,000 years ago, some of our furthest ancestors crossed the Bering Strait into what would become the Eastern Hemisphere. Of those people, there are nomads that would settle throughout the land. From present-day Mexico to present-day Canada, communities bubbled in their chosen hubs. Traits and beauties took on new forms, where your hub was located and the people you were surrounded by, that was the culture of the area. Or, atlas, the culture that would come to be known in the area.
As many people know, Mexico was a host for a variety of expansive cultures and communities. The Mayans that built pyramids that reached the heavens for closer study, so they could write in the glow that dusted over the night sky. Even now, people travel, similar to a spiritual or religious expedition, to see what horizons the Mayans had saw, the world they saw coming and disappeared from. The Mayans were known and still seen as intellects of the post-colonial time.
The Aztecs, however, were not seen that way. The Aztecs were seen as barbaric people with lands and dominate far-reaching and far-greater than they ever truly deserved. Not the people to sit and study for hours on end, unlocking the mysteries of the universe and mind, they are people loyal to beliefs and their faith. Everyday, thousands of ounces of blood pooled from their necks and jutting arteries, bodies disfigured and heads released from the bonds of bodies, this is the culture of the Aztecs. Do what you need to survive. Survival is key, believe in what we’re doing.
Something history has just begun to acknowledge, I guess its wounds have healed and tears long and forgotten, because only now do we truly see the devastation of our actions. The imposition, entitled imperialism over other cultures for lands and riches and assumed intellect.
Natalie Diaz is a Mojave American poet, language advocate, and educator. She calls on cultures, people, graces, and former social progressions to write on. Her style fills with, in no better way to say it, complete ridiculousness. Houdini, Antigone, and Jesus all end up at a party together, what parts do you think they play within the social constructs?
When my Brother was an Aztec is a composition of poems in varying styles that provide an expose on society. From different point of views to third person and haikus to prose poetry and anything in-between, creates a dynamic reading experience that questions everything the patriarchy has stood for and still stands for. It’s current events with the spice of recognition from past troubles. What must be stated, like with any compilation of poetry, as a reader with a certain poetic bias – we all have our favorites – and we have the ones we like less so. If you’re thinking about picking this book up, remember to read a poem and then perform it, that’s how you know if you like it or understand it.
When my Brother was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz gets 8 out of 10 stars.