Book Description

From Publishers Weekly Neither especially ground-breaking nor ambitious, Rodr!guez's debut nevertheless has charms: some inhere in its Spanish-and-English felicities, others emerge from the life story the poems tell. Having fled, at age nine, her native Cuba, Rodr!guez is now an inquisitive bilingual lesbian freelance writer in Los Angeles. Her frequent meditations on words and languages can become both precious and self-righteous: she sighs, 'how difficult it is to work with words,' and declares, 'This pitch/ of mine has dictatorial tones but made/ of nobler stuff, I hope, if it teaches/ that those who can, do, and those who can't, bitch.' Rodr!guez offers a smorgasbord of forms, among them sonnets, a sestina, a shaped poem, a recipe-poem ('Risotto Ariosto'), and prose poetry. Her free-verse cadence suggests Elizabeth Bishop's, while her unobtrusive formal versatility and her political interests link Rodr!guez to Marilyn Hacker, who selected this book for publication. In the poems that mix English and Spanish, Rodr!guez proves most impressive when she refuses to translate for us, instead creating high-speed collisions between cultures and languages. At 'The Rosario Beach House,' the poet's aunt 'en su gordura floated in the water/ como un globo o una ballena.' Rodr!guez also infuses magic realism to great effect in her prose-poem series 'Little Cuba Stories/Cuentos de Cuba.' Exciting at times, the book seems better in parts than it does as a whole. Its forms, like its eroticism, can be as sensual as 'an anklet of blooming salal dances'; elsewhere the poems can turn as dull as 'the mainland... so undramatic / so flatly familiar.'(Oct.) Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more From Library Journal Rodr!guez's first book of poems, winner of the 1998 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in poetry, reveals a remarkable range of poetic craft. Writing in both English and Spanish, she employs free verse, formal verse, and prose-style poems to display the magical power she has with words and joins the likes of Julia Alvarez with her rich bilingual voice. A Cuban exile whose poetic inspiration comes from Rilke and Rodrigo (among others), Rodr!guez writes about her Cuban childhood, exile, culture, and family. 'The invisible body,' she writes, 'demands you to invent new senses to receive it.' These poems are like tiny stones that reveal a new detail, a new crevice with each turn and twist. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Tim Gavin, Episcopal Acad., Merion, PA Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more See all Editorial Reviews