Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review Roundup-September 18, 2011

Yvette Benavides reviews Lorna Dee Cervantes’ CIENTO: 100 100-WORD LOVE POEMS

set.jpgYes this is a brand new collection. And yes there are one-hundred poems consisting of one-hundred words. And what a better title than CIENTO for a collection of poetry that is as timeless and complete as the 4,000 year-old embrace pictured on the cover of this collection. There is something reminiscent here of Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets, but Lorna’s poems are not just earthy and sensual, they are also humorous.  If for many young-poets, like myself, Neruda is a literary father then Lorna is her feminine counterpart.  Like Neruda, Lorna’s work is revolutionary precisely because it is guided by feelings of love. Here await 100 poems like 100 pearls—dive in for the treasure.

Here is what Yvette Benavides of the San Antonio Express had to say:

Love poems. Enough to make us swear off poetry forever? Maybe, but only when they're schmaltzy — the last word anyone would ever use about the latest collection from San Antonio's Wings Press by Lorna Dee Cervantes, “Ciento: 100 100-Word Love Poems.”

Cervantes, who reads from the new collection Friday at Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, blazed trails in the 1970s when she was an active member of the new Chicano Movement. In her work, she speaks to the conundrums of alienation and identity.

The full review can be read here.

Daniel A. Olivas reviews Juan J. Morales’  Friday and the Year that Followed: Poems in Latino Poetry Review Issue 1

olivas_morales.jpgOne of the greatest assets of being part of the Notre Dame community is without doubt its library. And one of the many privileges of my work at Letras Latinas is my exposure to the many voices in the chorus of Latino letters. One of these voices is that of Juan J. Morales whose work I found at Notre Dame’s Hesburgh library. Juan, like myself, is a CantoMundo fellow and the co-editor of the CantoMundo newsletter. His collection of poems Friday and the Year that Followed: Poems is a haunting collection; it is a poetry of storytelling and of unspoken places. It is important to mention that this is not a new review but an older one from the first issue of Latino Poetry Review. Having said this, this reposting of older reviews is an initiative on my part to give Latino Poetry Review pieces a second opportunity for new and wider readership. 

Here is what Daniel A. Olivas had to say:

In his debut collection, Friday and the Year that Followed: Poems, Juan J. Morales uses as a palette his blended (and sometimes competing) identities rooted within the cultures and histories of Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Indeed, Morales segregates such identities within a triptych structure perhaps with the intent of controlling, defining, and illuminating the various voices that he must inevitably rely upon to tell his stories. I say "stories" because Morales, at heart, is a mature and compelling storyteller who uses poetry in the same manner novelists and short story writers employ prose.

The full review can be read here

Jonathan Yardley reviews Daniel Alarcón’s novel Lost City Radio

imgres.jpgDaniel Alarcón’s novel Lost City Radio is set in a fictitious Latin American country where a decade-long war between left-leaning guerrillas and the government has finally come to an end and the families of the many dead and disappeared have finally begun searching for one another with the help of Norma, the host of the most popular radio program in the country: Lost City Radio. Somewhere along the novel Alarcón describes the violence between the insurgency and government forces as a mutually bloody dance where the only victims of the violence are the very same people both government forces and revolutionary fighters claim to be fighting for. To read Daniel Alarcon’s novel is exactly that: to be thrown into a dance with dynamite.  

Alarcón’s novel was published in 2007 and this is thus an older review of the novel but I am reposting it here to take the opportunity and announce Daniel Alarcón’s up and coming reading “At Night We Walk in Circles” at Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on October 4th, 2011, an event co-sponsored by Letras Latinas. And to say that I will have the honor of interviewing Daniel Alarcón for the Letras Latinas' Oral History Interviews. These interviews are truly a a small treasure onto themselves, please do check out the many interviews. 

Here is what Jonathan Yardley had to say:

Daniel Alarcón's thoughtful, engaging first novel is set in a fictitious South American country where the reader will immediately recognize fragments of recent history in Argentina, Chile and, most particularly, Alarcón's native country, Peru. No name is ever given to the country: Alarcón means the novel to be a fable about civil wars and their repercussions, rather than an account of a specific war within a specific place to which we bring all the baggage of familiarity.

With the publication of Lost City Radio, Alarcón is off and running. His collection of short stories, War by Candlelight, was published two years ago to deservedly high praise. Now still in his late 20s, Alarcón has an impressive and rather unusual background. He was brought to this country when he was very young because of the dreadful violence that swept through Peru in the 1980s and '90s during the terrorist uprisings led by the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru movements. In recent years, he has spent a lot of time in one of the poorest barrios of Lima, and much of his fiction is about the people who live there.

The full review can be read here.

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