By Dhember Viera
Japanese based poems, a Spanish professor and Mexico City all came together when Dr. Michelle Pascucci was doing research in a library in Mexico City for her doctoral dissertation in 2006.
For a week, Pascucci looked through a special collection of 90 books that belonged to the personal library of José Juan Tablada, the author she was researching to find out what he was reading and studying.
While looking for specific notes in the margins of the books that would have influenced the author’s writing, she found a collection of woodblock prints by a Japanese painter. Pascucci found pages taped in the book with handwritten poems that had never been seen. She transcribed the poems and took pictures of them.
“I was tempted to take the pages out of the book, fold them up and take them with me,” said Pascucci, “But then I figured, no, I’d be stealing, and I want to be allowed back into this library.”
She decided to put these unpublished poems in her dissertation at her advisor’s recommendation. Pascucci finished her dissertation in 2008 and submitted the poems for publication in late 2011. They were officially published in November of 2012.
“It was just really exciting. It was like doing a bit of archeology in literature,” said Pascucci.
Recently Pascucci published an article in literary journal Literatura Mexicana XXIII.1 titled “Hiroshigué versificado: dos poemas manuscritos de Tablada.” This article analyzed two of the poems that Pascucci found in Tablada’s library.
In her summary of the article, Pascucci wrote, “The discovery of these works also contributes to a better understanding of the literary activity held by the writer after the peak of his poetic career.”
These poems reflect the two main passions Tablada maintained throughout his life: visual art, especially painting, and Japanese culture.
Students can download Pascucci’s article at www.revistas.unam.mx.