After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties

Ray Gonzalez, Other David R. Godine Publisher $14.95 (258p) ISBN 978-0-87923-931-2
Aside from a few recognizable names--such as Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lorna Dee Cervantes and Victor Hernandez Cruz--the majority of these 34 poets are introduced to a large audience for the first time in these impressive pages. Gonzales ( Twilights and Chants ) discusses the poets' emphasis on family, but also notable is how family expands to include migrant workers, brothers and sisters killed in the political coups of South America and, closer to home, the neighborhood. These are not sentimental observations, but harsh realities; as Lucha Corpi points out: ``we cannot digest our bread / in someone else's stomach.'' Many pieces also contain a sadistic humor, as in Martin Espada's poem in which ``now the Roosevelt school / is pronounced Hernandez '' and the statue of Roosevelt ``is surrounded / by all the faces / he ever shoved in eugenic spite . . .'' The 16 women included cover the full range of feminine possibilities, from memories of abusive fathers to Alicia Gaspar de Alba's powerful evocation of Mother Earth in terms of lesbian love. The collection's weakest poems seem the most crafted, where the poets struggle to use imagery unfamiliar on barrio streets, where the vision becomes fanciful at the expense of political urgency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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