Working in the Dark: Reflections of a Poet of the Barrio

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The story revealed in these mid-life recollections by Chicano poet Baca is absorbing: an orphan child in a New Mexican city or town name not given/MM barrio, poorly schooled, immersed in drugs and petty crime, he only discovered the power of language as a convict, on reading Neruda and Paz: ``Their language was the magic that could liberate me from myself, transform me into another person, transport me to other places far away.'' This volume is less an autobiography than a romantic paean, taking form as a series of essays, to the redemptive, ecstatic capabilities of poetry. Baca sees his vocation in transcendental terms: ``I became one with the air and sky, the dirt and the iron and the concrete''; he regards himself as a voice for the poor and oppressed in America. As a self-ordained spokesperson for Chicanos, he is at his best when evoking barrio culture: his stately grandmother, the village cantinas and the quiet solidarity of Mexican workers. The book finally disappoints, however; too many reflections are self-indulgent, gratuitously profane, incoherent or simply lost in torturous metaphors. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Baca is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Martin and Meditations on the South Valley ( LJ 10/15/87), the 1988 winner of an American Book Award. Baca learned to read and write as a young man in prison; his poetry focuses on prison, darkness, night, myth, and Chicanismo. This is a collection of autobiographical essays exploring his ethnic identity and the process and experience of creation and writing; the essays are permeated with Baca's intensely lyrical sense of the empowerment of literacy and language. Appropriate for comprehensive contemporary poetry collections as well as Chicano literature collections.-- Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, Ore.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780890135150
  • Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 984,791
  • Product dimensions: 6.45 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.52 (d)

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