Homecoming: New and Collected Poems

Overview

Long before her award winning novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez was writing poetry that gave a distinctive voice to the Latina woman-and helped give to American letters a vibrant new literary form. Homecoming, was Alvarez's first published collection of poetry, a work of great subtlety and power in which the young poet returned to her old-world childhood in the Dominican Republic. Now this revised and expanded edition adds thirteen new poems. These ...

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Overview

Long before her award winning novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez was writing poetry that gave a distinctive voice to the Latina woman-and helped give to American letters a vibrant new literary form. Homecoming, was Alvarez's first published collection of poetry, a work of great subtlety and power in which the young poet returned to her old-world childhood in the Dominican Republic. Now this revised and expanded edition adds thirteen new poems. These more recent writings are still deeply autobiographical in nature, but written with the edgier, more knowing tone of a woman who has seen, and survived, more of life. Wonderfully lucid and engaging, toned with deep emotionality and a wry observation of life, the poems of Julia Alvarez stand next to her fiction to both delight us and give us lessons in living and loving.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Alvarez, author of the novels How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and In the Time of the Butterflies, adds to her 1984 collection of the same name. Limning her youthful experiences as a Dominican-American, the thoughtful, accessible poems in the section called Housekeeping draw upon childhood memories; in the new "Folding My Clothes," she watches her mother "fold/ the arms in and fold again where my back/ should go until she had made a small/ tight square of my chest." Also new is the sequence of Redwing Sonnets, occupied with voice, authenticity and language. Thirteen new sonnets are added to the original number in the section called 33 to match Alvarez's current age. The early poems focus on failed relationships and the search for love "Are we all ill with acute loneliness,/ chronic patients trying to recover/ the will to love?". The new works look more outward, a fitting shift, the author notes in an afterword, for a poet who "still yearns to make the world better with her pen." Apr.
Library Journal
Alvarez is best known for her acclaimed novels How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (LJ 8/94) and In the Time of Butterflies (LJ 5/1/91). This vivid and engaging collection proves her to be a talented poet as well. The best poems in the book are found in the series entitled "Housekeeping," where the daily activities of cleaning, washing, and ironing are transformed into metaphors for the female experience: domesticity as both nourishing and stifling. There is also an engaging series of 46 sonnets, an autobiography in verse that wryly explores the ups and downs in family, relationships, and writing. Alvarez describes herself as a "woman working at home on her art/ housekeeping paper as if it were her heart." Recommended for most collections.-Christine Stenstrom, Brooklyn P. L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452275676
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/1996
  • Edition description: Revised & Expanded Edition
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 953,202
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Julia  Alvarez
Julia Alvarez
With her vivid tales of growing up between the two disparate cultures of the Dominican Republic and the United States, Julia Alvarez has drawn comparisons to writers ranging from Jane Austen to Gabriel García Márquez. However, its is Alvarez's fresh, vivid voice that sets her apart, and speaks to fans from both cultures.

Biography

Julia Alvarez was born in New York City during her Dominican parents' "first and failed" stay in the United States. While she was still an infant, the family returned to the Dominican Republic -- where her father, a vehement opponent of the Trujillo dictatorship, resumed his activities with the resistance. In 1960, in fear for their safety, the Alvarezes fled the country, settling once more in New York.

Alvarez has often said that the immigrant experience was the crucible that turned her into a writer. Her struggle with the nuances of the English language made her deeply conscious of the power of words, and exposure to books and reading sharpened both her imagination and her storytelling skills. She graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College in 1971, received her M.F.A. from Syracuse University, and spent the next two decades in the education field, traveling around the country with the poetry-in-the-schools program and teaching English and Creative Writing to elementary, high school, and college students.

Alvarez's verse began to appear in literary magazines and anthologies, and in 1984, she published her first poetry collection, Homecoming. She had less success marketing her novel -- a semiautobiographical story that traced the painful assimilation of a Dominican family over a period of more than 30 eventful years. A series of 15 interconnected stories that unfold in reverse chronological order, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents addresses, head-on, the obstacles and challenges immigrants face in adapting to life in a new country.

It took some time for "ethnic" literature to gain enough of a foothold in the literary establishment for Alvarez's agent, a tireless champion of minority authors, to find a publisher. But when the novel was released in 1991, it received strongly positive reviews. And so, at the tender age of 41, Alvarez became a star. Three years later, she proved herself more than a "one-hit wonder," when her second novel, In the Time of Butterflies was nominated for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Since then, she has made her name as a writer of remarkable versatility, juggling novels, poetry, children's books, and nonfiction with equal grace and aplomb. She lives in Vermont, where she serves as a writer in residence at her alma mater, Middlebury College. In addition, she and her husband run a coffee farm in the Dominican Republic that hosts a school to teach the local farmers and their families how to read and write.

Good To Know

From 1975 until 1978, Alvarez served as Poet-in-the-Schools in Kentucky, Delaware, and North Carolina.

She has held positions as a professor of creative writing and English at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts (1979-81), the University of Vermont (1981-83), and the University of Illinois (1985-88).

In 1984, Alvarez was the Jenny McKean Moore Visiting Writer at George Washington University. Currently, she is a professor of English at Middlebury College.

She and her husband run a coffee farm, Alta Gracia, in the Dominican Republic.

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    1. Hometown:
      Middlebury, Vermont
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 27, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Middlebury College, 1971; M.F.A., Syracuse University, 1975

Table of Contents

Homecoming Homecoming

Housekeeping
How I Learned to Sweep Dusting Household Riddle Making Our Beds The Master Bed Washing the Windows Storm Windows Hairwashing Hanging the Wash Folding My Clothes Ironing Their Clothes Rolling Dough What Could It Be?
Posture Lesson New Clothes Naming the Fabrics Orchids Charges Mother Love Woman's Work

Heroines
Heroines Woman Friend Wallpaper Against Cinderella Old Heroines

33

Redwing Sonnets

Last Night at Tía's

Afterword: Coming Home to Homecoming

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