“Wild Tongue: A New Record of Rio Grande Valley Expression”


  • Jonathan Leal


For thirty years now, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera has helped scores of people discover themselves through care and contradiction—through art that is culturally specific, vulnerable, opaque, and hybrid, reliant on intersecting forms, layered genres, multiple languages, and clashing registers. The present anniversary of Anzaldúa’s book, arriving amidst absurdist headlines and daily heartbreaks, has spurred many to reflect on the increasingly surreal realities of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands: increased militarization and denigrating media coverage, increased displacement and hostile policies, routine dehumanizations and offensive caricatures, neglectful representatives and still-ailing constituencies. Our present tense is an unequal distribution of fear, its realities at once new and inherited, unforeseen and unsurprising: the gnarled legacy of colonial expansion. And as much as this present continues to overwhelm, it also, as Wild Tongue attests, is spurring many Valley natives to respond with forward-looking, reparative art.