Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.



5.0 1
by Jose Galvez (Photographer), Luis Alberto Urrea, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Foreword by)

One evening, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer José Galvez heard Luis Alberto Urrea read "Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never Be in a Poem" with its chant-like repetitions and its evocation of Chicano manhood. As Luis read each line, an image clicked in José's memory, and he knew that he had already taken that photograph. The result of that experience is this


One evening, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer José Galvez heard Luis Alberto Urrea read "Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never Be in a Poem" with its chant-like repetitions and its evocation of Chicano manhood. As Luis read each line, an image clicked in José's memory, and he knew that he had already taken that photograph. The result of that experience is this remarkable book.

A unique collaboration of two acclaimed artists, Vatos is a tribute to Latino men who are too often forgotten, ignored and misrepresented by the larger culture-children playing in the streets, migrant workers toiling for a better life, homeboys in the barrio, young men with their girlfriends and their mothers, blue collar workers, activists on the streets, sons, uncles, fathers, and grandfathers. Vatos recognizes their joys, their sorrows, their tenderness and their strength. Through Galvez' photographs and Urrea's words, they will not be forgotten.

The word "vato," by the way, is Mexican-American slang, a word that means "dude" or "guy," but here it carries more soul than either of these.

José Galvez was lead photographer of a L.A. Times team that received a Pulitzer Prize for a stunning portrayal about Latinos in Southern California. José and his colleagues were the first Hispanics to receive a Pulitzer. For over 30 years, Galvez has been documenting his Mexican-American culture, through photographs. He has done much freelance photojournalism and has contributed photos to the book Americanos produced by Edward James Olmos.

Bloomsbury Review named Luis Alberto Urrea as one of its "10 Young Writers to Watch." His book Across the Wire, which depicts life at the edges of the dumps in Nogales, is in its 10th printing. A novelist, essayist and poet, he has received the Christopher Award, the Colorado Center for the Book Award, the Western States Book Award for Poetry, and the American Book Award.

Editorial Reviews

Vatos is a haunting and powerful tribute to all men of Chicano, Latino, and Hispanic descent. The word "vatos" is street slang for "dude, guy, pal, brother." Urrea recognizes and features Chicano men of all ages and sizes, and in all different situations and states. The cadence and repetition within the poem's stanzas weave softness around even the harshest words, romancing the reader into an appreciation of all facets of the subject, even the ugliness of Agent Orange and prisons. The text is enhanced by Galvez's vivid b/w photos, which capture the hope and heart of his subjects despite their hardships and harsh realities. Spanning several years and several states, the photos unify the Chicago people, punctuating Urrea's point that although they may not be in the spotlight, they will not be forgotten. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Cinco Puntos Press, illus, 21cm, $19.95. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Claire M. Dignan; Woburn, MA January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
"Historically, I knew women had been ignored and erased. But I suddenly realized that, outside the historical record, the men were also ignored and erased. The modern Xicano/Mexicano/ Latino man was invisible." This strong belief that someone had to speak out, be a voice for all these fathers, uncles, and brothers, drove Urrea to create the Hymn to Vatos; vatos who will never be in a poem. Chiefly of Los Angeles, California and Tucson, Arizona, these vatos, the dudes/guys, are represented through the words of this litany. Well outside the usual style of what is considered mainstream contemporary poetry, Urrea draws strongly upon the repetition of oral tradition and in his own words, the poem is like the chanting of "100 grandmothers praying to Guadalupe." The more distant indigenous roots of the Americas are also evident.The rhythm Urrea produces flows along the pages under an arresting collection of photographs taken by Galvez over the past thirty years. Each photo is captioned and dated, and a helpful and informative index is provided at the end of the poem and photos. The index section, entitled Photo Captions, takes the thoughts provoked by the poetry and photography to a more complex level. In reading the caption of an already striking photo entitled "Don Marcos Romero, 1978," the flat black eyes of an almost unbelievably old man suddenly harden into the challenging focus of a man who has seen more than most people, and knows it. He gazes out from under his straw ranchero hat, a Mexican flag draped behind a portrait of the crucifixion that hangs on the wall of his Tucson home. He sits on the iron-framed bed for his portrait. "Don Marcos Romero, AKA El Charro Negro. He rode with Pancho Villa." In other photos, readers see first communions, car-hopping competitions, Pachuco gangsters dressed to the nines, war veterans, farm workers, tattooed vatos in public parks, and vatos double-clutching Budweiser cans. A grandfather holds onto his small grandchild as if he is holding on for his life. In fact he is, holding onto his very life itself. In "Altar Boys 1986," a boy with a divine expression seems to be miles away from the two clowning fellows he stands between. Where he seems celestial and somehow elevated above worldly concerns, in his alb, the other boys appear childish. Urrea is a novelist, essayist, and poet who resides with his family in Chicago where he teaches. He has received many awards including the American Book Award and the Western States Book Award for Poetry. Galvez is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who has worked with the L.A. Times and other newspapers, in addition to freelance photojournalism. "All you vatos, you are not forgotten."

Product Details

Cinco Puntos Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

What People are Saying About This

Edward James Olmos
A tribute to Chicano men, to Latino men, to all men everywhere.

Meet the Author

Luis Alberto Urrea is author of widely acclaimed novel The Hummingbird's Daughter and 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction for The Devil's Highway. A member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, Luis was born in Tijuana, Mexico to a Mexican father and an American mother. This is his first graphic novel and Young Adult title.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Vatos 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a stunning synthesis. Image and verse are interwoven in a documentary of young on-the-edge urban Hispanics in the American Southwest. Every frame and every line are true to life and yet the sum of it all is somehow larger than life -- an anthem of stark, strong photos and vivid verse.