Toluca Street

Maxine Scates, Author University of Pittsburgh Press $19.95 (87p) ISBN 978-0-8229-3623-7
``We were the little people / those were our lives,'' writes Scates in her first collection. Poem after poem specifies those ``little'' lives: characters face the Depression, war, suicide, alcoholism, madness, love. ``I have mourned the past / its elegies / its endings,'' the poet declares, but meanwhile, the future ``has begun to open / on its terrifying form / and it comes in bending and preparation / in cleansing and small change / in every detail that mocks emptiness.'' These are not idle words; focusing on a childhood only half understood, the poet seeks rigorous self-exploration. Scates's unwavering intensity spares no terrifying, intimate particular. Rooted in concrete working-class imagery, the majority of poems here are extremely powerful. When Scates attempts to move into spiritual realms--usually in association with tracing her Mexican heritage and rediscovering Catholicism--the relation of imagery to time and place slackens. But even in these weaker moments, readers will admire the poetry's craft and courage. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Paperback - 87 pages - 978-0-8229-5420-0
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