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Slow Lightning

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,101 ratings  ·  100 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
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Yale University Press
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  1,101 ratings  ·  100 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
Andrea Blancas
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Oh, the top of my head! It has come off.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, read2014
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
Patricia Murphy
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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."
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
"the engine
stalls as he turns
the ignition I shout
a few words arroyo
socorro arroz
the rolled r's coax
The engine into a roar"
I would have enjoyed this collection more if my Spanish was better, even so a solid 3.5 star read
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Craig Werner
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, latino-a
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 ...more
André Habet
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I felt more things reading this tiny book of poems than I did if I watched all 7 Star Wars movies simultaneously and could comprehend the visual schizophrenia that would ensue.
Seandel Edwards
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Why is this soooooooooooooo good?

Eduardo is truly a gifted poet. The type of imagery and emotion evoked by stringing together words and stanzas is incredible! This book is a must read, a must have, a must keep at your bedside counter to relish every few months.

"You are nothing like my father
and like my father
you are nothing"

Corral mentions his father or the use of that paternal relationship throughout his work unsure of what this relation is actually like in real life the collection does
Adam Sol
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, poetry, lgbt
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
Erika Kielsgard
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I sense a passionate love of language and sound contained within the lines of Slow Lightning. I also notice a ritual in Corral’s imagery—the wolf, string instruments, milk, liquid collecting in the small of a back, the rain. These images invite one another to shed light upon the next, exposing the shadows behind both. Perception is in motion, and Corral’s images radiate this. One of my favorites is from Misael: Oil, Acrylic, Mixed Media on Canvas: Julio Galán: 2001, when the interruption of a ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, fun-lit, usa, chicano
This is a book I couldn't put down.

It's incredible how Corral switches between Spanish and English--there is a constant back-and-forth and he pulls it off very naturally. ""Eyes the color of garrapatas / ... / Cell phone strapped like a pistola" ("Variation on a Theme"). "Variation on a Theme" is an incredible poem about a border-crossing man's life.

In this book, the Mexico/USA border is permeable but leaves a lasting mark on the narrator: "He's an illegal. / I'm an Illegal-American" ("In
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Scott Wiggerman
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
It's been a while since I sat down and read a poetry collection, so it took a while to switch gears properly and really pay attention to the poetry in Slow Lightning. I won't pretend to be able to dissect it or explain it, but I can say that I really enjoyed a good chunk of it. Eduardo Corral has a wonderful way with words and many of the poems in this collection flow perfectly while invoking a wide variety of vivid images and sensations.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Honestly it just wasn't my type of book. It's very very abstract poetry, and for me it just goes over my head. I'm still giving it 3 stars just because the quality of the writing isn't necessarily bad, it's just that I wasn't able to understand it because I'm bad at poetry. For people who like this type of poetry, maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did.
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Corral establishes a distinctive voice and atmosphere through his collection, yet many pieces left me with the sense that there was a frustratingly unprenetrable meaning behind the powerful imagery. His tone is too profound to suggest a lack of meaning, and yet his strings of images are too diverse to be analyzed effectively.
Jacob Vigil
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I don't read too many books of poetry, but this was mentioned by Junot Diaz in an interview so I picked it up. Haunting and surreal, but what I was looking for and appreciated the most was how he captured the images and emotions of immigrants in the borderlands. With such few words, Corral conveys volumes about pain, struggle, addiction, loss....all while avoiding tired stereotypes.
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.

Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2015
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
Meg Gee
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic first collection that is concerned with the liminality of borders across language, culture, and bodies. Takes risks with form that pays off. Magic. He is a voice I want to continue hearing from.
Denton Peter McCabe
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was one of those lucky random grabs off the shelf at a library. I was immensely moved by several of these poems. Coral's work is tragicomical, culturally and sociopolitically relevant and very beautiful. I highly recommend this collection to any lover of good poetry.

Roy White
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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:
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
excellent book of poetry by Hispanic poet. Some poems are bilingual; that just adds to their amazingness! Can honestly say I enjoyed every poem in the book. Would read again and again.
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Real recognize real.
It's hip-hop. With corrido samples. He drops jewels that stay rattling on the smalls of backs .
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Actual Rating: 10 of 5 thorns

Brilliant. Fresh images. Experimental. Exploring and pushing boundaries in theme, topic, and form. Definitely a collection worth studying in-depth.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2018
I have been reading this book, slowly, since Corral came to read at SLCC last fall.
I enjoyed this book and the images and language he uses.
The book holds together in sections.
My favorite thing about the book is the way he uses both English and Spanish and doesn't explain or define the Spanish words.
Some very powerful poems, and some sad ones.
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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 ...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.” 10 likes
“I throw/my head back,/& stare at the slowest lightning,/the stars.” 0 likes
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