Features discussion questions, writing exercises, book reviews, related news articles, and other context-enriching content for teaching Hugo García Manríquez’s Anti-Humboldt: A Reading of the North American Free Trade Agreement / Anti-Humboldt: Una lectura del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte.
Anti-Humboldt: A Reading of the North American Free Trade Agreement
By Hugo García Manríquez
Anti-Humboldt is a bilingual erasure of the North American Free Trade Agreement in English & Spanish.
In 2010, Hugo García Manríquez set out to work through the North American Free Trade Agreement in Spanish and English. The result is a bilingual artifact that interrupts and re-politicizes NAFTA’s neoliberal language, becoming a space of transnational encounter that strangely falls on the same continuum as the work of 19th-century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt—a continuum upon which the institutions of Law and Science dream of stabilizing the flux of contingency into the language of the market. No longer univocal in meaning, the remains in Anti-Humboldt resist being situated, making evident the madness of language and rationality: words that—to echo George Oppen—”have run mad / In the subways / And of course the institutions / And the banks.”
Praise for Anti-Humboldt
Unveiling as he erases, García Manríquez teaches us to find the political in the poetic and the poetic in the political as he carefully reads and shrewdly re-writes one of the most influential documents in the modern life of Mexico and North America altogether: the NAFTA agreement of 1994. A dexterous excavator, García Manríquez produces pauses and hollows, openings and miscreations, in an otherwise finished version of contemporary neoliberalism. His Anti-Humboldt interrupts the flow of pre-established practices and discourses of politics, turning my reading and your reading into a veritable collaboration with the political. These are our eyes, discerning the passing of time between black and gray inks; and these are our fingers, pointing at real lives and real deaths—half-emerging and half-concealed—in between lines. Only rarely has Mexican poetry enticed the present with such critical insistence. Only rarely has post-conceptual poetry mattered this much.
— Cristina Rivera Garza
Within Anti-Humboldt, García Manríquez opens a path towards a cruel ecopoetics, a bilingual experimentalism and a new prosody. There’s something merciless in this work: it instantly makes nearly all of Mexican poetry anachronistic.
— Heriberto Yepez
[T]wenty years after the NAFTA document took effect, Hugo García Manríquez translates, re-creates, and, as I am thinking of it, miscreates the NAFTA agreement through an entwined activity of reading as inscribing…. Hugo’s miscreation is a tale of our wickedness—our knot of complicity, passivity, and outrage as both the benefactors and casualties of the document’s stipulations.
— Divya Victor
“MISCREANTS & MISCREATIVE WRITING: On Hugo García Manríquez’s Anti-Humboldt,” by Divya Victor @ The Poetry Foundation’s Harriet the Blog.
“From legalese into nothingness: A review of Hugo García Manríquez’s ‘Anti-Humboldt’,” by Marco Antonio Huerta @ Jacket2
“New books of poetry that include a crucial search are rare,” says Heriberto Yépez in a review translated into English by Guillermo Para at Venepoetics.
Jay Besemer reviews Anti-Humboldt @ Galatea Resurrects
David Buuck interviews Hugo García Manríquez @ Tripwire
“Sobre el Anti-Humboldt (o de las palabras),” by Javier Taboada @ Tierra Adentro
“TLC y poesía: el ‘Anti-Humboldt,” by Heriberto Yépez @ Milenio
“Cuando la literatura no deviene mercancía,” by Isaac Magaña Gcantón @ Letras Libres
Hugo García Manríquez
Hugo García Manríquez is the author of the chapbooks Two Poems and Painting is Finite, and two books in Spanish: No oscuro todavia and Los materiales. Recent work has appeared in Dreamboat, Dusie, Spiral Orb, Tierra Adentro, the collective chapbook Field Work, and in the collection of essays Escribir Poesía en México. His work as a translator includes William Carlos Williams’ Paterson, published in Mexico in 2009, and, in 2014, Mecha de Enebros, his translation of Juniper Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination & the Construction of the Underworld by Clayton Eshleman. He has also translated essays and poems by Charles Bernstein, George Oppen and Myung Mi Kim. Hugo lives in Oakland, California, where he is a graduate student in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at UC Berkeley.