Spring Poems Along the Rio Grande

Jimmy Santiago Baca, Author New Directions Publishing Corporation $12.95 (75p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1685-2
Once imprisoned, now celebrated nationally as a performer, poet and memoirist (A Place to Stand), Baca returns to the terrain, forms and concerns of Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande (2004) in this perhaps less ambitious sequel. Vivid free verse alternates description of the Texas-Mexico border (a site for the poet's regular walks and runs) with hopes and fears for the poet and for his nations. ""Landscapes of war,/ people starving,/ refugees waving for us to help them"" represent the hard politics of the present, competing for attention with the poet's difficult past (""when my life/ blew from street corner to street corner/ in menial work"") and with what seem to be memories of sex addiction, the years when ""my love/ was a madness."" Baca tries both to envision a brighter future and to live fully, attentively, in the present, noticing both clear spots of natural beauty and incursions of things manmade, from the feather of a long-sought blue heron to ""the green irrigation pipe-gates/ that mark the end of my run south."" Fans of his earlier performance poetry may appreciate his new work's warmth, or wish it edgier, less suffused with optimism (""what is broken God blesses""). Against all his worries, all his reasons to despair, Baca again and again turns back to the border landscape he loves and trusts: ""The Rio Grande bosque/ doesn't lie-when it's ready to show affection/ it does.""
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
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