Giannina Braschi

Puerto Rican writer
(Redirected from Yo-Yo Boing!)

Giannina Braschi (born February 5, 1953) is a Puerto Rican poet, novelist, and political philosopher. She wrote the postmodern poetry epic "Empire of Dreams" (1988), the Spanglish classic "Yo-Yo Boing!" (1998), and geopolitical tragicomedy "United States of Banana" (2011) on the collapse of the American empire.


  • Nostalgia is a fruit with the pain of distance in its pit.
    • Assault on Time, 1981.
  • Not every pigeon is a rat with wings. Not every rat with wings is a dove of peace.
  • Metaphors are the beginning of the democratic system of envy. They look for what is dissimilar and try to make it similar. Everything that is similar cuts the edge of what is unique.
  • When I was a little girl, my parents would say Puerto Rico can't be free because we would be poor like Cuba and poor like Haiti. Out of the fear of becoming poor we didn't dare to become free. Then a hurricane comes, devastates everything, and maybe we are as poor as Cuba and Haiti, but we are not free.
    • On the aftermath of Hurricane Maria [2] (El Nuevo Dia, Puerto Rico, July 23, 2018)
  • Nativity is the enemy of prophecy—nativity and roots, which do not allow you to become a prophet in your own land, unless you disassociate from the familiarity of family.
    • On creating independence. [3] (World Policy Institute, October 17, 2017)
  • Tragedy is all about losing. And humor is all about gaining perspective. Humour returns our gladness. And with gladness comes generosity. Humor returns us to the light and makes us light—it kills grudges, buries bodies–buries revenge—buries blame and guilt—fear and dread. Laughter, like hiccups and sneezes and farts and burps, relieves us of severity.
    • On the power of humor.[4] (Monkey Bicycle, August 23, 2013)
  • Puerto Ricans...castrate their children. As a reality check. Because they know the colonial systems will not allow their children to achieve all the things that they want in life. I saw that in my childhood. I saw this impotence that was imposed on me since my childhood. But I said, “I’m going to build an empire of uselessness. I’m going to take from the Americans the ingenuity, and I’m going to take from the Spaniards the wisdom.” And that’s what I do. I mix wisdom and ingenuity.
    • On decolonization of the self. [5] (Chiricú Journal, 2018)
  • I want to take poetry to walk other genres. I want poetry to walk through other genres. When I started writing, this was my main concern: get out of poetry. Let poetry walk the streets of New York. Make her cosmopolitan. See the world. Not in these estrofas, not in these stanzas, which are camisas de fuerza.I have to get out of poetry. I have to do what James Joyce did to the novel: he took the novel out of the novel.

Empire of Dreams (1988)

  • Questions don't change the truth, but they give it motion.
  • I have just turned life into a proverb. I just killed it.
  • Behind the word is silence, behind that silence is forgetfulness.
  • What does winter or autumn or spring or summer know of memory. They know nothing of memory. They know that seasons pass and return. They know that they are seasons. That they are time. And they know how to affirm themselves. And they know how to impose themselves. And they know how to maintain themselves, What does autumn know of summer. What sorrows do seasons have. None hate. None love. They just pass.
  • Gods are condemned to live the dream of the imperishable.
  • Only what is fated to die is capable of living. Only what dies lives. Why do you think Christ was killed? They killed him to prove that he wasn’t a god. But in killing him, they immortalized the perishable and transformed man into a god.

Yo-Yo Boing! (1998)

Poets and anarchists are always the first to go. —Where. — To the frontline. Wherever it is.
  • Poets and anarchists are always the first to go.
    —To the frontline. Wherever it is.
  • You cannot measure IQ through poetry.
  • If I respected languages like you do, I wouldn't write at all. El muro de Berlín fue derribado. Why can't I do the same? Desde la torre de Babel, las lenguas han sido siempre una forma de divorciarnos del resto de la humanidad. Poetry must find ways of breaking distance. I'm not reducing my audience. On the contrary, I'm going to have a bigger audience with the common markets — in Europe — in America. And besides, all languages are dialects that are made to break new grounds. I feel like Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio, and I even feel like Garcilaso forging a new language. Saludo al nuevo siglo, el siglo del nuevo lenguaje de América, y le digo adiós a la retórica separatista y a los atavismos.

* "If you want to know what love is, have a child. If you want to know what pain is, bury him".

United States of Banana (2011)

  • Creation means discovery of a new reality that exists but that has not yet been noticed. The word is alive again. The speaking word. The verbs are in revolt—a revolt of the masses against the representation that has always been the main weapon of the state. (p.121)
  • Always follow the line of thought of the intuition negating envy.
  • Intuition is the positive energy that envy kills when it refuses to see the rainbow in the sky.
  • I fear freedom. I, above all, fear the freedom that is above all feardom.
  • The suicide bomber is an explosion of a contradiction in its paradox, victim and victimizer, yin and yang, two sides of the coin, fire bomb and fire extinguisher, prosecutor and defendant, hangman and hanged.
  • Originality is going back to the place where you were what you were—and finding an empty chair. Would you gladly sit on it? No, thank you. It is empty for a reason. That’s where my ass was. Not where my head is now.
  • It’s the end of the world. I was excited by the whole situation. Well, if everybody is going to die, die hard, shit, but what do I know? Is this an atomic bomb--the end of the world--the end of the millennium? No more fear of being fired--for typos or tardiness--digressions or recessions--and what a way of being fired--bursting into flames--without two weeks notice--and without six months of unemployment--and without sick leave, vacation, or comp time--without a word of what was to come--on a glorious morning--when nature ran indifferent to the course of man--there came a point when that sunny sky turned into a hellhole of a night—with papers, computers, windows, bricks, bodies falling, and people running and screaming. (On September 11th terrorist attacks.)
  • I saw a torso falling--no legs--no head--just a torso. I am redundant because I can’t believe what I saw. I saw a torso falling--no legs--no head--just a torso--tumbling in the air--dressed in a bright white shirt--the shirt of the businessman--tucked in--neatly--under the belt--snugly fastened--holding up his pants that had no legs. He had hit a steel girder--and he was dead--dead for a ducat, dead--on the floor of Krispy Krème--with powdered donuts for a head--fresh out of the oven--crispy and round--hot and tasty--and this businessman--on the ground was clutching a briefcase in his hand--and on his finger, the wedding band. I suppose he thought his briefcase was his life--or his wife--or that both were one--because the briefcase was as tight in hand as the wedding band."
  • Soy boricua. In spite of my family and in spite of my country, I’m writing the process of the Puerto Rican mind— taking it out of context—as a native and a foreigner—expressing it through Spanish, Spanglish, and English—Independencia, Estado Libre Asociado, and Estadidad—from the position of a nation, a colony, and a state—Wishy, Wishy-Washy, and Washy.
  • A prophecy: The United States of America will become the United States of Banana. And Puerto Rico will be the first half-and-half banana republic state incorporated that will secede from the union. Then will come Liberty Island, then Mississippi Burning, Texas BBQ, Kentucky Fried Chicken—all of them—New York Yankees, Jersey Devils—you name it—will want to break apart—and demand a separation—a divorce. Americans will walk like chickens with their heads cut off.
  • English is a language of mass destruction. Lady Macbeth is a queen of mass destruction. Lear is a king of mass destruction. Hamlet is a prince of mass destruction. Shakespeare is a bard of mass destruction. And Moby Dick is a whale of mass destruction.

Quotes about

  • gifted poet Giannina Braschi, whose work, unlike that of her Puerto Rican contemporaries, is linked to the tradition of the Latin American surrealists like Silva and Pizarnik.
    • Marjorie Agosín Introduction to These Are Not Sweet Girls: Poetry by Latin American Women (2000)
Wikipedia has an article about:

  • Library of Congress Video: Giannina Braschi at 2012 National Book Festival [6]
  • World Literature Today: Giannina Braschi on Mixed Genre Literature, 2012 [7]
  • PEN World Voices Festival 2012 [8]
  • Public Domain Video: United States of Banana, 2011 [9]
  • Public Domain Video: Giannina Braschi on September 11th Attacks, 2011
  • [10]