Craig Werner's Reviews > Slow Lightning

Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral
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May 20, 12

bookshelves: latino-a, poetry
Read in May, 2012

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 ideology. In another echo of Hayden, the "illegal" also relates to Corral's homosexuality, which is a central aspect of the framing poems (the second and penultimate poems of the collection are both titled Acquried Immune Deficiency Syndrome." Corral's sense of language it fluid; he works through image more than statement, and his primary inter texts are visual (which often loses me a bit). The movement back and forth from Spanish to English reenforces the thematic and imagistic structures. The Variations poem is definitely my favorite, but others to start with include "Watermark" "In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes," "Border Triptychh," "Want," "Poem after Frida Kahlos' Painting The Broken Column, "Temple in a Teapot," and "Velvet Mesquite." He'll definitely stay on my list.
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