Thursday, June 29, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week for Poetry Thursday, I'm doing something a little different. Since I got so many great suggestions from the Poets Wanted post, my reading list is now longer than the Great Wall of China. So, I decided that instead of just posting a poem for Poetry Thursday, I'd also do a review of whatever book of poetry I happened to be reading. I figure this way, we can all get to know new poets together and maybe you'll go out and read something you normally wouldn't have.

This week's featured poet was suggested by wandering-woman, whose blog you should definitely check out. I'm always taking suggestions for new poets so if you haven't offered yours yet, meet me in the comments section.

Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros

Cisneros is probably most well-known for her story collection, The House on Mango Street and her novel, Caramelo. Loose Woman, Cisneros' third volume of poetry, is a collection of love poems, divided into three sections, each of them addressed to the heart.

To understand the meaning behind some of these poems, you have to know a little about the poet's background. Cisneros was born and raised in the Midwest, to a Mexican father and a Mexican-American mother. The only daughter of seven children, she and her family lived alternately in Chicago and Mexico City, in poor neighborhoods where American culture became interspersed with her family's Mexican heritage. She grew up speaking both Spanish and English, and this is clearly reflected in her poems. There are bits of Spanish phrasing peppered throughout and one poem, "Amorcito Corazon," is written entirely in Spanish.

The poems are primarily love poems; there are former lovers, would-be lovers, dead lovers. Women figure in a very minor way, usually as rivals or relatives, although there are several poems written to girlfriends, such as this poem, "Black Lace Bra Kind of Woman".

Wachale! She's a black lace bra
kind of woman, the kind who serves
up suicide with every kamikaze
poured in the neon blue of evening.
A tease and a twirl. I've seen that
two-step girl in action. I've gambled bad
odds and sat shotgun when she rambled
her '59 Pontiac between the blurred
lines dividing sense from senselessness.

Ruin your clothes, she will.
Get you home way after hours.
Drive her '59 seventy-five on 35
like there is no tomorrow.
Woman zydeco-ing into her own decade.
Thirty years pleated behind her like
the wail of a San Antonio accordion.
And now the good times are coming. Girl,
I tell you, the good times are here.

The language she uses to describe love, sex, and the body are very frank; some of the images seem intended to shock. There is a crude quality to some of the poems but in reality, Cisneros is describing the smallest truths of life. Certain words, images tend to be repeated. Some of the poems move at a frenetic pace; others move more slowly, languidly, like a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon. Some of the images are fragmented; there is odd punctuation, a jolting, jangling sort of rhythm. There are references to classic works of art and pop culture in the space of a few lines and the poems take you from Mexico City to Laredo, Texas to Sarajevo to the south of France. These are poems written in the dead of night, when the mind is free to roam unchecked. They read like a mood swing, shifting from passionate to melancholic to wistful to angry. They reflect the passion of the poet, the way the mind moves from one thought to the next.

The title poem, "Loose Woman," is the last poem of the collection. The poem is at once a self-portrait and a statement of defiance. In it, Cisneros acknowledges how others see her and simultaneously rejects and accepts those assumptions. The world has mistaken her as bitch, a beast, a macha, while she views herself as a fiercely independent and strong woman. This poem is her way of saying, watch out world, you don't want to get in my way.

Overall, I enjoyed this collection immensely and would definitely recommend it. If you're anything like me, you'll feel compelled to sit and read them all in one sitting like I did. If you want to read about love and passion in all its forms, Loose Woman is a good place to start.

For more on Sandra Cisneros, click here.
For an interivew and to hear her read her poem, "You Bring Out the Mexican in Me", click here.
To buy her books, click here.

Next week: Grace Notes, by Rita Dove.


Anonymous fringes said...

Good lord, what a comprehensive review. I'd like to be you when I grow up, Rebecca.

Oh, I'm stealing your 43 things sidebar link. Love it.

6/29/2006 12:50 PM  
Blogger kaleidoscope said...

great idea to do the review thing for the communal greater good of poets in the bloggerhood. and yeah, a comprehensive review to say the least. you have a great voice for this kind of writing.

6/29/2006 1:24 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Fringes, I stole that link from somebody else so help yourself.

Kaleidoscope, even if I never make it as a poet, I figure I'll at least turn someone on to a poet they might be unfamiliar with. Is it too much, do you think? I've never done this sort of thing before so I didn't really know what to write.

6/29/2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger Delaleuverses said...

I would like to suggest my blog as a featured poet, hope you'll like what you see. You have a very captivating blog, I will stop by more often

6/29/2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

I've considered doing reviews of some of my favorite poetbloggers but I don't want to say the wrong thing and hurt someone's feelings. Maybe an interview format instead? I'll definitely keep you in mind, you write such great poetry.

6/29/2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger January said...

You do have a great writing style. I like how you take on a subject and put it into context by giving a little history about the author. There's an ease and intelligence that really comes through in your work.


6/29/2006 2:39 PM  
Blogger jim said...

What a terrific blog, though I should be very, very upset with the image of Stephen King in a thong--that's what I get for surfing.

Your commentary is intelligent, fierce. I can't help but think of Whitman's quote about great audiences and great poetry. Cisneros (and any poet) would be lucky to have as an athletic and nervy reader as you.

6/29/2006 6:29 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Jim, welcome. Thanks for the great compliment. I just wish my other writing could measure up. It's easy to write a good review when the starting material is so good.

6/29/2006 6:31 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Your other writing does measure up.

6/29/2006 11:38 PM  
Blogger Laura Young said...

Oh what a delicious poem...I have to have a little talk with wandering woman, my dear friend and fellow Little Prince. How she neglected to introduce me to this poet I do not know. But she did send me to Levertov and the whole Dragonfly-Mother syncronicity thing so perhaps more would have simply made my head explode...

6/30/2006 7:07 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Lynn, as always you give me too much credit.

Laura, I'd never heard of her as a poet either but I'm glad wandering woman suggested it. It really is a great book.

6/30/2006 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in :
More than Love Poems in a very user friendly interface with little ads

10/20/2006 4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in :
More than Love Poems in a very user friendly interface with little ads

10/20/2006 4:38 PM  

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