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  November 2006
volume 4 number 4
  home   (archived)
  editor at large
Tess. Lotta
Poetry Unrestrained: William Waltz, editor of Conduit Literary Magazine and the Poetics of Annihilation
Richard Beban
My First Mentor
Jerry Garcia
Bent Hamer's Charles Bukowski's Factotum
Aurora Antonovic
Elisha Porat's Episode
Marie Lecrivain
Naughty and Nice: Holiday Literary Recommendations
Jack G. Bowman
John Dullaghan's Bukowski: Born Into This
Danielle Grilli
Wisteria: A Journal of Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka
Aire Celeste Norell
Rachel Kann's The Gold of It All
Marc Olmstead
Bill Morgan's I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg
Marie Lecrivain
Mindy Nettifee's Sleepyhead Assassins
Marie Lecrivain
Luis Rodriguez's My Nature is Hunger
Francisco Dominguez
Lidia Torres? A Weakness for Boleros
  a personal history of rock 'n' roll
G. Murray Thomas
1967: ?Snoopy vs. The Red Baron? (part 1)
  mailing list
Marie Lecrivain November 2006


Luis Rodriguez's My Nature is Hunger

Of all the poets I have met and listened to in my years as a reluctant Angeleno, Luis J. Rodriguez remains-in my mind-the most distinctive, and lasting with his narrative style and uncompromising eye. His new collection, My Nature his Hunger: new and selected poems: 1984-2004 reinforces this truth while illustrating Rodriguez’s evolutionary shift as a poet, a man, and a social commentator.
Rodriguez’s new book contains 26 new poems paired with selections from previous books; Poems Across the Pavement (1989 Tia Chucha Press), The Concrete River (Curbstone Press 1991), and Trochemoche (Curbstone 1998).
Nature reintroduces the reader to some of Rodriguez’s signature pieces: “Running to America,” a gritty, in-your-face testimonial to immigrants who brave the dangers of crossing the U.S./Mexican border in search of a better life; “Tia Chucha,” a cheerful, loving tribute to Rodriguez’s eccentric and spirited aunt after whom he named his publishing company, Tia Chucha Press; and “Watts Bleeds,” a retelling-and an allegory-of Rodriguez’s triumph over his early, tumultuous youth in Watts, which despite Watt’s well-documented history of poverty and violence, may some day, as Rodriguez predicts, “bloom, you trampled flower, come alive as once/you tried to do from the ashes.”
    The new poems reveal a man who is willing to explore and sometimes resolve issues he addressed in his earlier work. In the poem “Black Mexican,” (Concrete River, 1991) a narrative about Rodriguez’s south of the border encounter with a young adolescent Mexican prostitute, Rodriguez outlines the young woman’s circumstance with a frustrated and angry, but not unsympathetic eye:

    She walked up
    with dreams of America
    and yellowed teeth.
    She came in the caricature of a voice,
    with motherhood
    sliced across her belly
    and eyes of hiding in mud fields
    as family sounds
    closed in on her, carnivorous like dogs,
    murmuring how pretty she is,
    how it doesn’t hurt,
    and the fathers,
    the uncles,
    the brothers,
    all slamming into her
    until she could squeeze into herself
    and die.

    Though Rodriguez’s anger, irritation and helplessness in the face of the young woman’s situation are successfully illustrated in the above passage, he imparted to the young woman a humble history as well as a sense of weary dignity. And since time will inevitably alter a man’s perspective on many things, especially in regards to women, the reader will welcome Rodriguez’s new poem “Chuparosa” (Hummingbird), a tender comparison of the author’s wife to the underrated, but majestic qualities of a hummingbird:

    A chuparosa once got caught below the window awning.
    It moved end to end, fear in its flutter,
    As I watched it try to escape.
    Unable to do anything, I directed its path
    With my eyes. For a moment, it was Trini held,
    In the paralyzing mud/mode she often falls into.
    I knew the bird would find a way out
    As Trini always does, drawing on her
    Intensity of decency that scares
    Most people whose decency
    Is mostly a burden below thin veil.

    Rodriguez deftly and provocatively re-defines himself in the multi-layered poem “My Name’s Not Rodriguez,” an all-encompassing journey into the possible realities of who the author is/might have been/could be. Yet, Rodriguez has taken the passionate anger that marked his earlier work, mixed it with a well-developed sense of humor, as in the poem “The Cockroaches I Married,” a whimsical tale about the life-long, Sisyphan battle against the against these primeval pests; added an elegant, melancholic tone, as in “Time and Nature,” a poem that explores the complex and difficult relationship with the author’s mother, and then distilled these qualities into an almost august disposition. The acuity of Rodriguez is still there, but now it is the marked difference between a steak knife and a scalpel.
    My Nature is Hunger reveals a turning point in the continued maturation of Rodriguez as a poet and visionary, but leaves the door open for further contemplation of the many roads Rodriguez may travel in the near and not so distant future.

My Nature is Hunger: new and selected poems: 1984-2004, Luis J. Rodriguez, Copyright 2005 Curbstone Press, $14.95, ISBN: 1-931896-24-0, 149 pages

(Note: This review previously appeared in Subtle Tea Aug/Sept. 2006)

copyright 2006 Marie Lecrivain


Marie C Lecrivain

author's bio

    Marie C Lecrivain is the executive editor and publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, a jewelry designer, and a writer in residence at her apartment.
    Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including: Edgar Allen Poetry Journal, The Los Angeles Review, Nonbinary Review, Gargoyle, Spillway, States of the Union, Orbis, A New Ulster, and others.
    Marie's newest poetry chapbook, Fourth Planet From the Sun, will be published in 2018 by Rum Razor Press. She's an associate fiction/essay editor for The Good Works Review, and the editor of several anthologies including Octavia's Brood: Words and Art inspired by O.E. Butler (© 2014 Sybaritic Press), and Rubicon: Words and Art Inspired by Oscar Wilde's "De Profundis" (© 2015 Sybaritic Press).
    Marie's avocations include photography; meditation; Libers CCXX and XV; marmosets; Christopher Eccleston, H.P. Lovecraft, and Sean Bean (depending on what day of the week it is); her co-owned cat Puff; expensive handbags; the number seven, and sensual tributes upon her neck from male artists-except male poets, who only write about it.

    "Writing is like having sex with a beautiful freak; adventurous and uncomfortable to the extreme." - m. lecrivain 2004

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