Antonieta Villamil

Born in Colombia in 1962, Antonieta Villamil is author of seven books and is an international award winning bilingual poet, narrator, editor, translator, and activist. Her work focuses on the forgotten ones and honors them with a voice. Villamil edits and translates the collection Poetry Solos/Solos de Poesía , directs the poetry workshop and the press Casa de Poesía/House of Poetry , the poetry review Moradalsur and, a Spanish language radio show for  KPKF, 90.7 FM (Los Angeles), on contemporary poets.


Letter to the brother that went to war

What can I tell you
dear brother
mutilated in silence.  

You disappear, 
as so many of 
my brothers, with  
rigorous sinchronicity.  

The dripping of the clock 
coagulates my eyes.  

Between brows and eye-corner glances  
I keep an ash 
that repels the fire 
that doesn't find your bones.  

A tomb I know by heart 
butchers my hands.  

With the only effort 
I have left 
I write these lines, 
while outside
and around us
everything collapses
and bleeds.  


Questions for Reflection: “Letter to the brother that went to war” 

Antonieta Villamil wrote her poem, “Letter to the brother that went to war,” to her brother Pedro. She writes: I came to the United States in 1984 and I promised him I was going to take him with me a little bit later. I struggled here in the United States, coming to a new country, to a completely different culture and a completely different language. For a poet, that was a lot to take. Then I had to start putting it off and putting it off. 

  1. How does the statement made by Antonieta Villamil above relate to the poem “Letter to the brother that went to war?”
  2. What is the war that Villamil speaks of in the poem?
  3. What does Villamil mean when she refers to the disappearance of her brother and others “with rigorous synchronicity?”
  4. What does it mean that Villamil’s hands are butchered by a tomb? What does the tomb represent?
  5. How can Villamil respond to her brother’s disappearance?
  6. What responsibility does Villamil take for her brother’s disappearance and the disappearance of others?