Mercedez Holtry’s newest publication from Swimming with Elephants Publications is everything you could imagine from the renowned poeta. It, as the title proclaims, is a resistance of performance, blooming like sunflowers stretching to an Albuquerque sunset sky.
Mercedez goes further in speaking not only about the national political climate but also local change and gentrification of her beloved hometown — Albuquerque, New Mexico — in poems like “La Central gets a Makeover” in which she calls out by name former Mayor Berry and the many failings of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) and its continued construction. Woven with a deep woe for being the final generation that might cruise Central Avenue, she takes you on a journey of the Albuquerque she knows and loves.
But there is a softness to this resistance, too. In “You Bring Out the Burqueña in Me,” dedicated to her beloved, she journeys through all the makings of herself and her culture, her love and her home, painting an image that echoes the vulnerability in the poem prior, “The Heat of Summer.” Both veer away from the political undertone of this publication and yet, there is still a softly flowering rebellion in her words. A rebellion of self, of love, of light.
But as with nature, there is darkness behind the light. A persona poem, entitled “La Llorona Speaks,” takes the reader on a shadowed journey into muddy waters of loss, exploring the legend of La Llorona, or The Wailing Woman. Another stunning exploration of her own culture, this particular poem was a hauntingly beautiful read.
As ever, Mercedez does not fail to enlighten and educate with her second collection from Swimming with Elephants, bringing an artfully entwined variety of work.
Mercedez Holtry is a slam poet, writer, student, mentor, and Chicana feminist who focuses on bringing out her roots, experiences and lessons learned through her poetry in hopes that they embrace her people and other artists around her. She has represented ABQ on multiple final and semifinal stages for national poetry events. Mercedez is passionate about spoken word and aspires to continually learn all she can about her art through working and slamming for her community.