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But, we get it, we get what it means, both by sound and context, and in fact this mix adds a richness of sound to the poems.
More than the format, and perhaps even more than language, is Urrea’s desire, like Bukowski’s, to show the beauty, and sometimes the humor and absurdity, of the everyday, the common, common people and common things, and by that I mean also a willingness that is also political to talk about lower class life. And in fact, towards the end of this collection appears Urrea’s “Lines For Neruda.” Again, length prevents including the whole thing but here’s a taste: The first poem I read was the ragged V scrawled in a brown sky by gulls escaping the garbage dump at sunset cutting under clouds over the apartment blocks going to a sea I knew was there across the city but never saw. Because though Neruda did write about, and for, the poor, he never lived as a poor kid by a garbage dump.is Charles Bukowski, the patron saint of southern California, where Urrea grew up, and another all-around writer of fiction and non-fiction, as well as poetry.What seems to happen with poets who write fiction, like Bukowski and Urrea, is that their poems, or many of them, tend to be , rather than, say, moments.Take Urrea’s poem “Typewriter,” about his childhood beginnings as a writer, and where he gives a nod to Buk.Unfortunately for reviewers, Urrea’s best poems are long, but here’s the relevant excerpt: I had a book by Stephen Crane, so I clacked out second hand Stephen Crane. it was beautiful Also nice to see a nod to Diane Wakoski, a former teacher of mine, but the Bukowski influence in Urrea begins in the form—the short lines and the heavy enjambment, leaving plenty of space on the page for the reader to fill in with her own imagination.Richard Brautigan wrote really short poems, so I beat out Brautigans. This is the opposite of the dense, long-lined poetry, which I also love, but which needs to be read more slowly.
then I read Jim Morrison’s book & locked myself in the bathroom, bellowed second rate Morrison. The Bukowski style lends itself to lightness, flowing down the page like a desert stream.Also, Urrea’s language itself, which is normal everyday american dialect, or what Tony Hoagland would call ‘diction.’ No big words.Mostly regular sentences that make sense, not a lot of fragments.But note that when I say american dialect I also mean here the inclusion of spanish words and phrases, because that is a part of America, from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico.So for example, a section of “Irrigation Canal Codex”: Till el vato’s so alucinado he thinks He can run free, thinks The trucks with spotlights are motherships, thinks He see Villa shooting cars on I-25, hear Tlaloc, god of storms, calling, water to water, Rain to rain, mud to mud—feed me your tears—I Thirst—I will feed your daughters, I will Sweeten the fields, I will ease your heat—and He runs He runs Se large el guey Down the alley, out Dirt road, cuts Under freeway, jumps Barbwire Where that homey last year drove his troca Into the ditch Note also that the spanish words are in italics, like some writers and publishers would want.Italics ‘tell’ the readers to read those words as foreign, from another country and culture.