Panoramas

Victor Hernandez Cruz, Author, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Author
Victor Hernandez Cruz, Author, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Author Coffee House Press $12.95 (188p) ISBN 978-1-56689-066-3
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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Celebrated for creating poetry that is a collision of the sounds, tensions and flavors of New York and Puerto Rico, Cruz achieves a musical vitality that surpasses any of his other volumes. Like a salsa band leader coaxing and challenging dancers to more and more complex steps, Cruz dares readers with dizzying polyrhythms, polymetric stanzas, backstepping word structures and a sense of improvisation: ""Humid women in plaza dance/ Tongues out of mouth/ At the men who jump in the shadows/ Panama hats transmitting/ Towards the radar/ of the waist."" While the verses pulse with a cross-cultural harmony of Caribbean and Lower East Side beats, the language approximates the emotional sphere of themes in rumba lyrics: ""Machetes taking off like helicopters/ Chopping off branches for timbale sticks."" But topics don't stop at the tropical; poems like ""It's Miller Time"" and ""If You See Me in L.A. It's Because I'm Looking for the Airport"" cover the ways in which life in the Americas can converge. Several lengthy narratives in the form of letters reveal Cruz's inspiration--from musical influences to his family's literary oral traditions. Seven poems presented in Spanish highlight Cruz's bilingual talent. (Sept.)
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