Lyrical Imagery

Lastly, this exhibit examines poems within De Hoyos’ later collections which indicate a complete incorporation of her artistic practices into the lyrical. What we have been observing as only paired image and text undergoes transformation in these pieces; De Hoyos has utterly enmeshed her two sensibilities, using words to paint a picture.

sagrado corazon.jpg

At a mere two stanzas, “A (Somewhat Gory) coup de grace/or/“Pero Qué Clase De Chingaderas Son Estas?”” is one of De Hoyos’ shortest published poems. The decreased length of poems belonging to her more mature collections is often linked to an increase in stylistic nuance. This poem suggests that the pithy complexity so often detected in these collections are in part resulting from De Hoyos’ aesthetic incorporation; she begins to compose the lyrical with the same graphic simplicity as in her artistic practice. “A (Somewhat Gory) coup de grace” is one of a handful of De Hoyos’ particularly striking poems that function as visual art compositions.

What’s more, De Hoyos comes to rely more and more on allusions to disparate visual cultures within her later poetry. De Hoyos opens “A (Somewhat Gory) coup de grace” with a romance trope: the red rose which pervades Western visual culture. She quickly replaces this with a more powerful and personalized image, however: “and now my heart/H A N G S/in mid-air/” The visual of the speaker’s heart may complement the red rose in its predictability, but the stanza’s emphasis lies in its suspension. “H A N G S” is drawn out literally, a spacing technique which Hoyos utilizes frequently in her work. Although the dramatized image of a heart hanging in mid-air serves a poignant enough function for any reader, it is important to note the specifically Mexican visual tradition to which she is referring. This hanging heart should be read as a Sagrado Corazon, or sacred heart, a visual motif which originated in the Mexican Catholic church (Jesus’ sacred heart) during the Baroque era. It has since evolved into a cultural icon and is frequently appropriated for non-religious contexts.

sagrado corazon painting.jpg

Example of sagrado corazón imagery in 1759 Mexican painting by Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz

The rest of the poem follows:

“like a sacrificed lamb/dripping blood/from my/Achilles heel/to my naked toes

Here, the image of el sagrado corazon is returned to its religious origins and details suggest crucifixion, comparing the speaker to Jesus’ martyrdom. The image that the reader fills in from these isolated shots is equally as unmistakable as that of el sagrado corazon. Thus, the poem seamlessly transitions from a red rose to el sagrado corazon, proving that De Hoyos’ work is fluent in the hybridity of not just languages, but images as well. Indeed, she wrote for an audience that shared this ability and could unblinkingly follow this transition. Her work, much as her artistic practice, occupied an unapologetic niche within the particular, bilingual Chicanx consciousness.

This poem suggests that the pithy complexity so oten detected in De Hoyos' later collections are in part resulting from her aesthetic incorporation; she begins to compose the lyrical with the same graphic simplicity as inher artistic practice.

The nuance noted in De Hoyos’ later poetry is arguably the result of the successful integration of her lyric and visual sensibilities.

In some poems she meta-textually reflects on artistic creation, in others she further engages in poiesis by lyrically creating images, and at other times she brandishes allusions to both popular and fine art canon. Crucially, this increasing investment in the arts should not be conflated with a decrease in political commitments. Although this more mature political framework is certainly less reductive and less immediate, its personal meditations allowed for critical introductions of feminism into her community (an undoubtedly political act), as well as continued engagement with the inherently political medium of popular Chicanx prints. Thus, the artistic nuance is also politically instructive, precisely because it is personal.

De Hoyos employs the personal as a vehicle through which to communicate her evolving political critiques. She is the lesson plan, her experiences a mirror off of which she can reflect and inspire others’ introspection. Her intent remains that of political instruction, it just is one that now emphasizes mutual accountability within the Chicano community’s gender dynamics instead of easy external blame on the White Man.