The Concrete River


Large volume of poetry, American Book Award Winner

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The Concrete River: Poems

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Large volume of poetry, American Book Award Winner

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Vividly, the poetic power of The Concrete River casts the reader soul-first into the poignant presence of father and children, into the furious heat of steel factory work, and finally into the eyes of the poet which are necessary in order to see 'the first light coming into view.' Rodriguez shows us that light."

—Simon J. Ortiz

"Rodriguez speaks . . . with a voice that comes not so much from the chest as the belly; we need to hear what he has to say."

—Larry Weintraub, Chicago Sun-Times

"The poetry is of the barrio yet stubbornly refuses to be confined in it—Rodriguez's perceptive gaze and storyteller's gift transport his world across neighborhood boundaries." 

Publisher's Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rodriguez ( Poems Across the Pavement ) writes eloquently of ``a severed America,'' of Mexicans exiled to ``the armed camp called East Los Angeles,'' of laid-off laborers and evicted families--in short, of a populace locked out of privilege and prosperity. Turned away, they turn fury pk and desire inward--and implode. In the title poem, homeboys gather on the cement banks of the L.A. River to inhale aerosol fumes. Their ensuing visions transform ``an urban-spawned / Stream of muck'' into ``a flow of clear liquid / On a cloudless day''--yet end in near suffocation. However, Rodriguez's men and women are more often the victims of the anger of others--especially the police. A moving elegy, ``The Best of Us'' tells how a few words exchanged by a young Mexican and the police end in the man's murder. But while violence is always on the verge of eruption, beauty also blossoms in unusual places. As a couple dances in a dive, the poet notes ``how a hand opens slightly, / shaped like a seashell, / in the small / of a back.'' This poetry is of the barrio yet stubbornly refuses to be confined in it--Rodriguez's perceptive gaze and storyteller's gift transport his world across neighborhood boundaries. (June)
Library Journal
These poems are contemporary reports from the underside of American culture. They consider the homeless, the unemployed, the exploited working class, the dispossessed of the American Dream who occupy the tenements within ``the miasmic draft of side-street America.'' As a former steelworker, carpenter, truck driver, and refinery worker, Rodriguez writes from the inside out, with great knowledge, passion, and compassion. His journalist background allows him to report the stories that often fail to make the front pages of the daily news. The poems and stories in this collection orbit the Chicano experience of Watts and East L.A., where ``the song of our wails,/ the wails of our song,/ thundering against the sides of this city of angels/so far removed from heaven.'' Rodriguez shows us how anger can also be an expression of love. Highly recommended for contemporary poetry and multicultural collections.-- Thom Tammaro, Moorhead State Univ., Minn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780915306428
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 125
  • Sales rank: 1,027,459
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Award-winning author Luis J. Rodríguez was born in El Paso, Texas and grew up in Watts and East L.A. Later he lived in Chicago for some years, where he was active in political and cultural life and founded Tía Chucha Press. He has published 8 critically acclaimed books in various genres (poetry, memoir, fiction, essays, and children's literature).

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Table of Contents

I. Prelude to a Heartbeat

Watts Bleeds
The Coldest Day
Tía Chucha
Speaking with Hands
Night Dancing

II. Dancing on a Grave

Dancing on a Grave
The Village
Writhing Skeletons
The Conrete River
The Best of Us
The Threshold
The Twenty-Ninth
The Rooster Who Thought It Was a Dog

III. Always Running

Always Running
Columbian Star
Black Mexican
The Bull's Eye Inn
Don't Read that Poem!
Jarocho Blues

IV. Music of the Mill

Music of the Mill
Jesús Saves
The Blast Furnace
Carrying My Tools
Heavy Tells a Story
First Day of Work
They Come to Dance
Bethlehem No More

V. A Harvest of Eyes

A Harvest of Eyes
The Quest for Flight
The News You Don't Get at Home
City of Angels
Mean Streets
Every Road
Chained Time
Don't Go Gentle Into that Good Expressway
Every Breath, a Prayer
This Tree, this Poem
Then Comes a Day

VI. Glossary of Spanish/Caló Terms

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