Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review Roundup: May 20, 2012

Steve Fellner of Pansy Poetics Reviews Rigoberto González’s “Our Deportees”

In this particular review, Steve Fellner reviews not a whole collection of poems but rather a single poem by Latino/a Poetry Now featured poet, Rigoberto González: “Our Deportees,” which appears in the March/ April issue of The American Poetry Review. It's a poem that is also the title of this Harriet blog-post by Rigoberto González in which he explores the genesis of this poem and the many years that passed before finally writing it. Inspired by a Dolly Parton cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)” a song about a plane wreck and the anonymous deaths of the farm-workers in that wreck, Rigoberto sought to write about the “spaces they [“the deportees”] vacate, leave empty, and are forced to occupy or abandon–the fields, the deportation bus, the detention center, the plane, the sky, the communal grave.”

Here is what Fellner had to say:

“The eerie thing about Rigoberto Gonzalez's poem "Our Deportees" in the current March/April issue of The American Poetry Review is the names of particular immigrants are almost never invoked.  There's one brief stanza about a common burial that lists some in the most cursory manner.  But that's it.  This is a poem that boldly refuses to use narrative in the conventional sense; we aren't given particular plights of particular victims.  The United States' treatment of illegal immigrants needs more attention than a litany of faceless entities, according to Gonzalez's poem.  By surveying the entire world --from a single apple tree to the path of a red-tailed hawk to strange flowers "with no petals" --he effectively illustrates how the entire fabric of the world is harmed through the persecution of immigrants.  Through Gonzalez's trademark of jam-packing stanzas with a particular figurative device--in this case, most often personification--he succeeds in creating what may be the best poem I've read in the last couple months.  Let's hope it doesn't get overlooked when the inclusions for Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize volumes are finalized.  Along with Jee Leong Koh, he was already robbed of a Lambda nomination.”

                [Continue Reading]
Lonita Cook Reviews Xánath Caraza’s Chapbook Corazón Pintado (Thorny Locust Press).

Xánath Caraza’s newly released chapbook Corazón Pintado is a beautiful collection of ekphrastic poems. These are poems of a rich diversity, poems inspired by artworks by Israel Nazario and Tom Weso, poems to the Copalillo tree, and to Yanga, the 17th century African-rebel who gave the Spanish a royal trashing and established the first free colony of the Americas, today know as San Lorenzo de los Negros in Veracruz, Mexico. Oh and did I mention that 20% of the sales of Corazón Pintado will go to a Summer Art Camp for Latin@/Chican@ children? Also be on the look-out for Conjuro: Poem, a forthcoming title from Mammoth Press to be released in September of this year, it will be Xánath’s first book-length collection.

Here is what Cook had to say:

“Teeming with musicality, flavor, and color, each poem, presented in Spanish and again in English, is the literary interpretation of visual art pieces by Isreal Nazario and Tom Weso, images featured in the book.
While interpreting the art, Caraza maintains her signature style rich in Latino mythology, folklore, and history, spanning a multi-generational divide.  The voices of the past must dictate over her shoulder, their tales preserved, not by pen, but by memory.”
                [Continue Reading.]
Zach Hudson of New Poetry Review Reviews Javier O. Huerta’s American Copia: An Immigrant Epic (Arte Publico Press, 2012)
“I am going to the grocery store.” That was the line poet Javier O. Huerta was asked to write during his citizenship interview process. That simple line, years later, would become American Copia, Huerta’s second collection of poems. Using a vignette form, a play, and even text messaging, Huerta weaves together a poetic narrative that breaks the illusion that we live in a land of bountiful substance. Here, a mere trip to the grocery store unveils the political, cultural and economic nuances that unveil an alternative and painful reality: that despite living in what is perhaps the richest period of human history, there still remain those who live a hand-to-mouth existence.
Here is what Hudson had to say:
“According to the preface, Huerta promised the aforementioned immigration official that he would write an epic starting with the line “Today, I’m going to the grocery store,” and this book sets out to do that.  Grocery shopping is a major theme, and through it Huerta explores issues of class, culture, family and literature.  The book as a whole cuts back and forth between “American Copia” episodes, in which he collects short prose anecdotes based on grocery shopping, giving brief asynchronous flashes of his life and relationships, jumping between time and place.  Huerta sees shopping and food as windows into all sorts of experiences and issues—family and relationships weave throughout the scattered narrative.  One episode describes how Marisol, a pregnant Yale student, steals a shopping cart to keep next to her apartment, just in case it is the only way to get to the hospital when she goes into labor.  This observation, both humorous and serious, highlights the juxtaposition seen throughout much of the work—privilege and poverty, the lyrical and the mundane.”
                [Continue Reading.]

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