Body of Evidence


This is the typical reaction when I talk to old friends about the new book:

What is the book about, she asks.

Immigration, I say.

WOW, SHE IS FINALLY GETTING POLITICAL, she says (rather, she shouts.)

Variations of this are happening so often, but so often, that I am led to believe I should have grown out of poetic abstraction sooner. Thanks, Trump! We are growing stronger, more cohesive, more compassionate, more aware, and much more courageous, in a relatively short period of time. Cheers. Here is to Gratitude, for All The Negativity that is coming out of the closet: twice after the election (but not once before), people who act as if life owed them some sort of prestige threatened to use my immigration status as leverage in favor of  their – their honor, I guess? Their starved sense of superiority? I can only guess. Walt Whitman comes to mind:

Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you my brother or my sister?

I am sorry for you… they are not murderous or jealous upon me;

All has been gentle with me… I keep no account with lamentation;

What have I to do with lamentation?

What have I to do with lamentation? True, my stomach turned a few weeks acidic around the inauguration, and after children were used as live ammunition I realized I shouldn’t read into my phone before I go to bed. And I surely feel ever less inclined to get out of town. But, other than that, it is getting to work. If political, then be it. If under the spotlight for being a) woman and b)born in an underdeveloped nation, then be it. In my way of making books by hand, stuff of life makes a fine content.


As such, this new book grows from the core outward, the core being an essay – Citizen, my first-person narrative about the concussion of an undocumented alien, which my editor-friend Maureen Cummins generously shaped into publishing material for her resistance journal Tinker Street last year. Gravitating around it there are photogravures, passages from my journals, letters from Celine Lombardi and Sarah Nicholls, text messages from roommate Jessica Russ and, of course, from my mother, and, if all angels of institutional licensing allow: snippets of Rebecca Solnit precious prose; a line from the diaries of Joseph Cornell; a poem by Emily Dickinson, in which she offered her being for Brazil.

I asked no other thing, No other was denied.

Why, it is after all My Take on Immigration: political-poetic, or maybe poetic-political, depending on How You Read It.


Essay on Tinker Street

Last years’ election night saw to it that my friend Maureen Cummins would right away launch Tinker Street – A Journal of Visual Art, Writing and Resistance, “a fireball collection of work by writers and artists from the upstate New York region and beyond.”

Maureen and I first bonded back in 2003, during my semester as an intern at the Women’s Studio Workshop. She has seen pretty much everything I have ever made by way of artists’ books, from the limited editions publicly shown to the very folios of my private journals, which I got into the habit of gathering and binding into volumes.

Why, she thought, maybe one of these could make good Tinker Street material? Why sure, thought I, and then she saw to it be professionally photographed.

Then one day she asked if I would consider writing an essay about my bike accident to go along, “from an immigrant perspective.”

You would think she could have seen this coming. Maybe she did. Anyway, the essay I came up with goes about the bike accident by way of September 11th, divorce, the English language, Charles Dickens, the French Revolution, patriotism and, of course, the rise of Donald Trump. It was enormous and convoluted but, after much of us putting our heads together, it turned out only a bit too long and no longer messy – to her credit. She is a tenacious editor, and a fierce friend.

The down side is, now with this 2-headed, 4-handed essay monster we have created, that old bound journal she had gone through the trouble of getting pro images of no longer fit on Tinker Street. Viola voilá, WordPress comes to rescue!

I think it is funny, though…  at the end of the day, pics of the handmade journal taken for another handmade journal get published online. All things digital and all things analogue to love. So the journal is here, but for the above mentioned monster immigrant essay you have to get Tinker Street on your hands.

“Tinker Street is hand bound, hand-printed (in part) and produced in an eminently collectible limited edition of 500 copies. Since contributing artists have the option to buy copies at cost for re-sale at readings and openings, by supporting Tinker Street you are supporting living artists and grassroots publishing.”

If you would like to purchase a copy, please send a check for $24 to
Maureen Cummins c/o:
Tinker Street, PO Box 252, Woodstock, NY 12409.
(you may also consider giving a subscription [$48] to a friend who loves art, literature and handmade books.)



SSS detail

For me one of the great advantages of having a bookbinder mentality is the ability to, uh, bind.

SSS 360 view

Having to constantly deal with the imports of my unrelenting memory, I quickly realized how soothing is to gather my somewhat scattered mind products in order to get them folded-pressed-stitched-glued-and-covered.

dia del muertos

There is hope for us all, books tell me. I am not sure I can always believe, but apparently a faltering faith is all the more faithful. Crawling leaps.

green catterpilar

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getting into it

notions closeup

I am a bookbinder. My skill is my comfort – I hardly ever feel need to take breaks, or to zone out of work. My life, however, is pretty damn complicated:

Living Abroad/Papers/Politics,

Legitimate/Illegitimate Limits,

Tomorrow/No Tomorrow.

bare abyss closeup

Creating my own work alongside grew out of necessity to cope, language being a tool both for shaping and to shape.I hear often that what I do is sculpture, and that is certainly part of it. Words not set on stone gotta take some sort of form for my taste. But my previous career was in Communication, my first obsession was metalinguistic artifacts, and my present gravitational field is around coherence.

caxixis-ny boy

It all naturally coalesces as book forms.

{back to “home”}