Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Nature is Hunger by Luis J. Rodriguez

Title: My Nature is Hunger: New and Selected Poems , 1989-2004
Author: Luis J. Rodriguez

My Nature is Hunger is the first poetry collection in five years by this major award-winning Latino author. It includes selections from his previous books,Poems Across the PavementThe Concrete River, and Trochemoche, and 26 new poems that reflect his increasingly global view, his hard-won spirituality, and his movement toward reconciliation with his family and his past.

My thoughts:
As an indigenous writer, these poems whisper and moan and shout to me, the rhythm is familiar as breath, and when Rodriguez says "you" in his poem, I imagine that he is speaking directly to me. It doesn't matter if our places are different, if our ancestral memories are different, because he speaks to my na'au (the gut where our Hawaiian knowledge lives).

My favorite stanza from "Piece by piece"
Piece by piece/ They tear at you:/ Peeling away layers of being,/ Lying about who you are,/ Speaking for your dreams.
I think as Hawaiians, when we allow others to speak for our dreams, then we have stopped paying attention to the ho'ailona, those signs from our ancestors that guide us.

My favorite one line from "Believe me when I say. . ."

writing a poem is like fathering a river
Want to teach figurative language, the power of metaphor and simile to craft our own writing? This is the poem to use.

See a great video from Open Road Media of Mr. Rodriguez talking about how books and writing saved him. 

More on the author:

Luis J. Rodríguez (b. 1954) is a poet, journalist, memoirist, and author of children’s books, short stories, and novels. His documentation of urban and Mexican immigrant life has made him one of the most prominent Chicano literary voices in the United States. Born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican immigrant parents, Rodríguez grew up in Los Angeles, where in his teen yearshe joined a gang, lived on the streets, and became addicted to heroin. In his twenties, after turning his back on gang violence and drugs, Rodríguez began his career as a journalist and then award-winning poet, writing such books as the memoir Always Running (1993), and the poetry collections The Concrete River (1991), Poems Across the Pavement (1989), and Trochemoche (1998). He has also written the short story collection The Republic of East L.A. (2002). Rodríguez maintains an arts center, bookstore, and poetry press in L.A., where he continues writing and working to mediate gang violence.

Thank you to NetGalley and Open Road Media for reading access to this book. 

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