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"I was pretty much incapacitated. Grief can pretty much incapacitate you. And it did for a while," Snyder said. "The only thing I could keep doing was writing."
Snyder spoke in a recent interview about how Chimbarazu Press, a small, independent publisher in New York City, invited her to submit some of her poems soon after her husband, El Paso artist Mario Colín, died this past October at age 54.
Her husband's death rekindled the grief that Snyder had experienced 13 years earlier when her longtime partner Jesus Guzman fell to his death at age 44. Intertwined in all that grief was the loss of her father, other relatives and friends, and one of her favorite dogs.
Snyder also was dealing with health issues and the loss of her professional identity as a lawyer.
"Being a lawyer is a huge element of my self-image," she said. "I never expected to retire early. I expected to work until I died. Not being a lawyer was upsetting to me, and my health issues were upsetting to me."
Snyder put together a manuscript of poems she had written about the men in her life; catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; immigrants left to die in the desert; and mishaps such as the shooting death of a young goat-herder in Redford, Texas, by a U.S. Marine.
From Donna's newest book, Poemas Ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal
"I Am the sound of the Sea"