by Therese Marie Konopelski
FROM: Letras Latinas Blog
Endeavor is a tender and sorrowful work, opening old scars and healing them with love and retrospective wisdom. There is a respectful and appropiate sense of nostalgia that permeates the narrative; for Inglewood, CA before gentrification, for innocence, and freedom of days gone by. It does not grieve, rather it treats Latinidad, womanhood, and abuse survivors with compassion and understanding. Guardado offers sincere meditations on injustices that affect women every day. Ultimately, the reader is renewed, and finds a sense of freedom in remembering these lived scars.
Reading this as a Latina woman, I was affected by how immersive and engaging the collection was. Guardado treats unfortunately common traumas that women suffer through silently in their relationships with candor and solidarity. Guardado is a poet to be reckoned for her authenticity and balanced masterful storytelling, maintaining space readers to project their own emotions from shared experience on the page.
-Therese Konopelski, University of Notre Dame (class of 2020)
[Therese Konopelski]: Endeavor partakes in the sorrow of women caused by the many injustices perpetuated upon them; including domestic violence, sexual assault, classism as well as racism. In many ways, it is their endeavor to resist depression from oppression. What is the significance of love and worthiness in this bleak narrative to you?
[Cynthia Guardado]: The first section of Endeavor is full of poems about women’s experiences in a world that is machista and possessive. Many of the poems are about my experiences as a woman because I too have been diminished and hyper-sexualized. For example, each moment of sexual harassment and assault described in the poem “To All the Women You Say You Love,” has actually happened to me. In the poem I really wanted to convey that every time this happens to a woman it stays with her.
I don’t forget being twelve years-old and riding the bus home from school. A grown man sat next to me and kept hitting on me. He wouldn’t leave me alone. I finally said loud enough for everyone to hear “I’m twelve!” and he immediately stood up and moved to another part of the bus.
I had to learn early in life, that I needed to protect myself from men. And so, I got tough and which is why the audience for some of these poems are men, because I want to make them uncomfortable. I want them to think about how their behavior impacts the women in their lives.
And I am completely aware that this impact is overwhelming which is why I intentionally began the book with “How Women Grieve” because I wanted to show the immense weight that women (including myself) carry every day. Our experiences something we’ve carried for generations. And that’s why I wanted to remind women to love themselves as completely and fully as they can when I wrote, “only you can love you like this.” Read Rest of Interview Here