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Slow Lightning

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  480 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Eduardo C. Corral is the 2011 recipient of the Yale Series of Younger Poets award, joining such distinguished previous winners as Adrienne Rich, W. S. Merwin, and John Ashbery. Corral is the first Latino poet to win the competition.

Seamlessly braiding English and Spanish, Corral's poems hurtle across literary and linguistic borders toward a lyricism that slows down experie
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Yale University Press
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Community Reviews

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"I have to sit down to say this. Once a man offered me his heart and I said no. Not because I didn't love him. Not because he was a beast or white --- I couldn't love him. Do you understand? In bed while we slept, our bodies inches apart, the dark between our flesh a wick. It was burning down. And he couldn't feel it."

-E. Corral, from "Poem After Frida Kahlo's Painting 'The Broken Column'"

Like many, I first encountered Eduardo C. Corral's work via Poetry Magazine, which first began publishing hi
Oh, the top of my head! It has come off.
Patricia Murphy
So many moments of sheer imaginative energy and uninhibited "going for it" or "saying it." Reading this made me feel empowered to let my imagination guide me. From the deer with honey on its hind leg to the bride too poor for lilies who holds a glass of milk, the images are as resonant as dreams. Some of my favorite moments:

"Are the knees & elbows
the first knots
the dead untie?"

"A saxophone is nothing like an ampersand in his hands."

"After a storm saguaros glisten
like mint trombones."
An auspicious debut. Probably my favorite Yale Series of Younger Poets selection in years. Competition judge Carl Phillips writes a wonderful introduction. Corral has genuine, original poetic talent.

from "Ditat Deus"

I learned to make love to a man
by touching my father.


He would lift me each morning

onto the bathroom counter,
dot my small palms

with dollops of shaving cream
so I could lather his face.
Andrea Beltran
Eduardo C. Corral's "Slow Lightning" is rapid electrocution. The language and imagery in his collection make even the hair on your arms stand up in full attention. He gets hit, stands up again, comes back for more. Corral's poetry is like the rolled "r" in the Spanish language: he wants to keep saying it, you want to keep hearing it. Haunting and lovely.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the first volume of poetry from Eduardo C. Corral, and I'm looking forward to what he writes next. Corral's father, a frequent subject in his poems, snuck into the United States, and Corral describes himself in one poem as an "Illegal-American."

The poems are sometimes in Spanish and English, switching back and forth with the rapidity that many bilingual think and speak in, particularly first-generation citizens. There is no translation, because he does not want to privilege one language
Craig Werner
The central poem of this excellent first book, Variation on a Theme by Jose Montoya, uses Robert Hayden's masterpiece Runagate Runagate as a touchstone for an engagement with the experience of Mexican immigrants (Corral emphasizes the fact that his father was an "illegal" and claims the identity of an "Illegal American." Hayden's a good point of reference in many ways. The poems which spoke to me most powerfully were ones that could be called "political" but they never reduce experience to ideol ...more
I liked this, though this might've been the quickest reading poetry book I've read in a while.

Corral does a couple kinds of poems here: there are narrative poems, some of which, for example, deal with his dad's experiences or his relationship with his dad; some others are stories of border crossers, coyotes and all that. Then there are more fragmented narrative poems, the kind of things that Carl Phillips writes (so it makes sense he writes the intro, and maybe helped Yale pick this manuscript)
Adam Sol
In his Intro to the book, Carl Phillips remarks on how Eduardo Corral's poems are full of "code-switching." I want to split hairs with this terminology, because I think it distracts from what Corral does really well in Slow Lightning. "Code-switching" implies a deliberate mixing of disparate discourses, which in turn is often a way of commenting on the appropriateness of one, or the assumptions of the other, or what's missing in both. To my ear, Corral's poems are not code-switching, they're jus ...more
4.5. Wow! I love this so much! I love the language and how the lines, "As my master ate, I ate" are repeated in the first and last poems of the collection is just wonderful. The themes of sexuality, ethnicity, father and son relationship, estrangement, code switching with Spanish and English and how it's done so well. I was blown away with Corral's language and the images I was reading and picturing. Carl Phillips also explained in the forward about servitude, obedience and enslavement shown in ...more
Slow Lightning is a beautiful book of poetry, weaving English and Spanish together in new and traditional forms to illustrate conflicts of race and sexuality using surreal imagery. I was especially struck by the Border Triptych, especially the middle part, where a female crossing the border first sprinkles red jello powder into her panties to fake her period and avoid a rape. It's a strong image that sticks with you, both for the horrific necessity of the act and the uniqueness in its telling.

I had to read this for a creative writing class and it was a very interesting read. I like complex poems, but these took me for a ride a few times. It was difficult reading around the Spanish he put into his poems, even though it adds character.
I do like, though, that he stretches the imaginations of his readers; "the deer passes me, I lower my taste the honey smeared on its hind leg." My favorite part of the whole book is defiantly how the cover feels like velvet.
What's most pleasing about this collection is the playful smoothness with which Corral code shifts between languages. Being bilingual in English and Spanish, I suspect that the duality of language means a bit more to me here, but I think it's still accessible to English-only speakers. There are a number of really playful, bi-lingual puns and a whole bunch of smalls of backs.

Corral's words are beautiful and feel so tangible. It is a bummer I cannot appreciate poetry so well unless I am in class devoted to it. I loved when he wrote poems about other paintings, even though they seemingly had nothing to do with it, I liked to think of him looking towards those paintings for inspiration just as I would read a poem of his while writing my novel.

4.5 Stars
Scott Wiggerman
I just finished this amazing book--startling, strange, erotic, important. The Spanish can be problematic at times, even if you know some Spanish, but I reread and looked up the words I didn't know the second time through; poems just became more impressive. This is a collection that really reads like a collection, not a group of poems thrown together into book format; there are echoes of poems and lines throughout the book. Read this!
Roy White
Very fine poems, might be a bit rough going if you don't know any Spanish. Here is a piece about one of the poems in the book:
Slow Lightning is a collection that doesn't shy away from the controversy, ugliness, and despair that honesty breeds. Corral tells stories that hit you and stick with you, as in "Border Triptych", and his more personal confessions (he begins the second part of "Ditat Deus" with the lines "I learned to make love to a man / by touching my father") will all but shatter you, while also reminding you that what you're reading will not cheat you and hold back anything.

A short but intensely sensual work
I had a hard time getting into the meat of this book due to the frequent code-switching. However, the comparison of familial and erotic love is very interesting, risky, and on point.
I'll write a longer review in a bit, but this is the kind of book everyone should read, and then read again. I want to read it 10 more times and I am not exaggerating.
Bruce Carr
I recently read this book of poetry. I thought it was brilliant.very visual, insightful and compelling. If you enjoy poetry you should enjoy this.
Achingly beautiful, compelling poems. I read the entire book in an afternoon and am already wanting more.
Joey Gamble
This is, so far, one of the best books of poems written in this century.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Not a fan of Corral's poetry.
Eros (homosexual, filial), ekphrasis, and migration drive these poems. Corral’s genius lies in the arresting clarity of his images, in code-switching, and in repurposing resources (art, poetry, experience) to somehow explain, or at least approximate, an identity prone to shifts, to shades. Appropriately, these poems resist closure, the wound within them always fresh and wide-eyed.

Also, it has been a while since a book of poetry has crushed me in all possible directions. Good thing I'm masochist
Gabriel Oak
Corral's first book won the Yale Younger Poets Prize last year, and it's not hard to see why. These are poems crackling with energy and invention and showing real range.
Patti K
This 2012 book of poems is written by a Mexican-American who is gay. So there are
many levels of significance here. There are several about his parents and their hard
working, "illegal" lives. His writing is electric and fast-paced, often dream-like
and surreal. He will surprise you with his use of language. Corrall frequently uses
Spanish words within the poems, so have your Spanish dictionary handy. This volume
won the Yale Series of Younger Writers Award.
Maughn Gregory
sex, death, race-prejudice and folk art are the themes of these arresting poems. I learned about it from an interview of Junot Diaz in the Times Book Review:

What was the last book that made you cry?

That’s easy: the winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, Eduardo Corral’s collection, “Slow Lightning.” When I finished that book I bawled.
Sep 29, 2012 Mia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
"Under the cold scaffolding of winter my love took me for a walk through the desert. My breath crumbling like bread.
Under the cold scaffolding of winter my love took me for a walk through the desert. My breath crumbling like bread.
Under the cold scaffolding of winter my love took me for a walk through the desert. My breath crumbling like bread."
--"Poem After Frida Kahlo's painting..."
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Eduardo C. Corral is a CantoMundo fellow. He holds degrees from Arizona State University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012, Beloit Poetry Journal, Huizache, Jubilat, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and Quarterly West. His work has been honored with a "Discovery"/The Nation Award, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Pri ...more
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“Once a man offered me his heart and I said no. Not because I didn’t love him. Not because he was a beast or white — I couldn’t love him. Do you understand? In bed while we slept, our bodies inches apart, the dark between our flesh a wick. It was burning down. And he couldn’t feel it.” 2 likes
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