Hunger's Brides
Page Updated On: 09/07/2005



On a project spanning twelve years, mountainous debts of gratitude have been run up.

To Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (FONCA), Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for financial and logistical support covering the Hunger’s Brides theatrical tour to Mexico and a year or two of writing time. And, to the late, great Explorations program of the Canada Council - that one made a difference.

To the staff and faculty of la Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, for inviting One Yellow Rabbit to perform staged readings from Hunger’s Brides in the Claustro’s chapel and for hosting us afterwards.
To the venerable magazine Vuelta for letting us crash the party in the gran patio. A special word of thanks to the staff, faculty and writers of the Banff Centre Writing Studios, ’95 and ’97. Go to the Banff Centre for the Arts if you can; see the little world that art built.

To Sor Juana scholars Emilie Bergmann and Fred Luciani for their sources and interest; to Teresa Castelló y Iturbide, distinguished Sorjuanista, and to Patrick Johannsen, Mexicanist and Nahuatl scholar, for inviting me into their homes in Mexico to share their latest research. To Dr. Salvador Rueda Smithers of INAH for giving me free run of the Castillo museum archives. To John Pflueger for his professional and poetic ruminations on geology. To the dozens of researchers who shared their expertise on-line, through scholarly discussion lists such as FICINO, Renais-l, Aztlan, Nahuat-l, historia-matematica, ANE. Perhaps never has a book relied so greatly on the collegial offerings of so many scholars. For their often multiple replies to abstruse queries, I would particularly like to thank Mohammed Abattouy, Evelyn Aharon, Anthony Appleyard, Christopher Baker, Kevin Berland, Luc Borot, Luigi Borzacchini, Thomas Brandstetter, Galen Brokaw, Paul D. Buell, R. Joe Campbell, Geoffrey Chew, Duane J. Corpis, Chichiltic Coyotl, Sarah Davies, Myriam Everard, Steve Farmer, Joan Gibson, W. L. Godshalk, Jim Gomez, Paul F. Grendler, James Grubb, Scott Grunow, Jack Heller, Peter C. Herman, Chris Hermansen, Helen Hills, Tom Izbicki, Thomas Kalmar, Frances Karttunen, Dan Knauss, Anu Korhonen, Heirich C. Kuhn, Ray Lurie, Mary Ann Marazzi, Michael Mccafferty, Katherine McGinnis, Leah Middlebrook, Mark David Morris, Steven N. Orso, Helen Ostovich, Jack Owen, Dan Price, Francois P. Rigolot, Stewart Riley, Betty Rizzo, David Sánchez, Mel Sánchez, John F. Schwaller, Christoph J. Scriba, Jutta Sperling, Laurie Stras, Sharon Strocchia, John Sullivan, Roberto Tirado, Frank Young, Germaine Warkentin, the late Paolo Renzi and Linda Schele, and many, many others. And to Mata Kitimisayo, whoever you may be off-line, please get in touch; Random House will know where to find me. A word of praise and gratitude, also, for the invaluable Sor Juana database created and maintained by Dartmouth University. And to the philosopher Terence Penelhum, for the first intimations of an ideal.

For publishing excerpts from Hunger’s Brides years before the end was in sight, thanks especially to Andris Taskans of Prairie Fire, Natalie Caple of Queen Street Quarterly, Juan Manuel Gómez of the Mexico City daily La Crónica, and to the editors of the Banff Centre anthologies Meltwater and Riprap. To Linda Spalding of Brick, which does not publish fiction, for reading everything I sent.

For certain of Sor Juana’s chapters, I drew directly on articles developed by Sor Juana scholars whom I credit in endnotes. Influential, also, were more comprehensive works by Stephanie Merrim, Antonio Alatorre, Martha Lilia Tenorio, Fernando Benítez, George M. Tavard, Margo Glantz and Marie-Cécile Bénassy. And it was only years after reading it that I understood how much I had been affected by Diane Ackerman’s Reverse Thunder. Alan Trueblood’s translations gave me a first audition of Sor Juana’s English music. Thanks to Harvard University Press for its astonishing courtesy in allowing me to reprint at length from Trueblood’s superb A Sor Juana Anthology. As for Margaret Sayers Peden’s translation of Sor Juana’s daunting Primer Sueño, I cannot imagine how it could be improved upon.

Two writers and their works, above all others, fired and fed the passion: Eduardo Galeano in his Memory of Fire trilogy and Blake Brooker, notably in The Land, the Animals, a theatre masterpiece born in the same year as Hunger’s Brides - two verses of one song, of an America that is lost. And there is a book without which this novel could not even have been imagined. Octavio Paz’s magisterial Sor Juana or, the Traps of Faith.

To others of the pirate tribe of writers and artists who gave comfort and blood: Kelley Aitken, Ken Babstock, Kevin Brooker, Gregg Casselman, Joan Clark, Bo Curtis, Chris Cran, Don Gillmor, Irene Guilford, Louise Halfe, Karen Hines, Lee Kvern, Richard McDowell, Dave Margoshes, Kirk Miles, Michele Moss, John Murrell, Rosemary Nixon, Peter Oliva, Joanne Page, Mariko Patterson, Howard Podeswa, Paul Rasporich, Barb Scott, Anne Simpson, Dorothy Speak, Joy Walker, Rachel Wyatt. And to Jane, for the gauntlet in the teeth.

Special thanks to theatre gods One Yellow Rabbit, and to the crew of the Hunger’s Brides road show. Blake Brooker (for who we were then), Grant Burns (for the late night talks and the ending), Ralph Christoffersen (great white bear, soul of artist, heart of explorer), Denise Clarke (for the first run-through in Phoenix, the unbreakable commitment, the grace), Andy Curtis (who showed how deep Donald runs and, just perhaps, reintroduced Octavio Paz to Pablo Neruda), John Dunn (heart of the house), Michael Green (for helping make Núñez more than a special effect), Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez (brain-squizzer, comic, translator, actor, theatre master, lexicographer, bringer of books and laughter), Richard McDowell (with such as these, one crosses deserts), Steve Schroeder (young Zen master of warmth and candour), Elizabeth Stepkowski (for her Mexico travel journals and superb companionship, and for bringing Beulah to life in all her passion and yearning).

To the friends who always asked, so generous in their optimism: It’s my fault if you don’t know who you are. Cathy J., wherever you are, I hope you are well. The crew of Maiden Light (Andy, Hermann, Paolo), for the first big dream. To the friends who heaped material support upon the moral - a reading, a meal, a bed, a book, a name. Heather Elton, Warren Fick, Anne Flynn, Anne Georg, Anne Green, Emma Greenstreet, Shawna Helland, Michele Moss, Deborah Roth. And to Gerald Simon, superb reader, gentle critic, fellow traveller on roads of myth.

My friends in Mexico form a category all their own, so optimistic in their generosity: Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Juan Manuel Gómez, Guillermo Diego, Norma Chargoy, their son, Diego. To Amanda, thank you for the doll and the dances. I wish you love and health. And to la familia Rivera Morfín - Tey, Raúl, Raulito, Octavio and Fernando - thanks for so many things, for the introduction to Sor Juana and Nezahualcoyotl. And, of course, to Z.

From friends to editors and back again: To Edna Alford at the Banff Centre, who believed before I did. To Anne Collins at Random House, who believed when I had begun to stop. Surely no writer has been more blessedly mistaken in his prejudices about the editorial soul.

From editors to family: My father, for the stories and the drives. My mother, for the nursery books and nursery rhymes. My sisters, for being you - and for glimpses of the exotic orient of women’s lives. To the Ikeda-Cameron family and to Lil, for the special ingredient in the cabbage rolls and for teaching me the Drabiuk house rules.

These books are written for Satsuki, for wrapping me in peace these long years.

Pale mountain flower … dancing mistress of my heart.

Who has the courage to face the hardest questions,

and strength to go on without answers.

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