Reviews for Panoramas

Library Journal Reviews 1997 October
This book, a poetic quintet offering both prose and poetry, develops a set of variations around the themes of displacement and bilingualism. The opening autobiographical essay, "Home Is Where the Music Is," leads into the second segment, "The Age of Sea Shells Revisited," the focus of which is the clash of cultures. The staccato rhythms of the third set, "Pana/Ramas," conjure up the spirit of Cruz's Puerto Rican homeland, from which he emigrated as a lad. In the fourth section, the poet defends his Spanishness and ars poetica ("Poetry is a river in the language. Paddle and you will get there") and recapitulates the theme of migration from his earlier Red Beans (LJ 10/1/91). The poems of the coda, "Primer Sonido," are entirely in Spanish. A mood of gentle satire and witty wordplay ("The past in the smoke of the cigar,/ Bringing the future information") further bond the pieces. Cruz has a message, and his voice should be heard. Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, Ohio Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 September #4
Celebrated for creating poetry that is a collision of the sounds, tensions and flavors of New York and Puerto Rico, Cruz achieves a musical vitality that surpasses any of his other volumes. Like a salsa band leader coaxing and challenging dancers to more and more complex steps, Cruz dares readers with dizzying polyrhythms, polymetric stanzas, backstepping word structures and a sense of improvisation: "Humid women in plaza dance/ Tongues out of mouth/ At the men who jump in the shadows/ Panama hats transmitting/ Towards the radar/ of the waist." While the verses pulse with a cross-cultural harmony of Caribbean and Lower East Side beats, the language approximates the emotional sphere of themes in rumba lyrics: "Machetes taking off like helicopters/ Chopping off branches for timbale sticks." But topics don't stop at the tropical; poems like "It's Miller Time" and "If You See Me in L.A. It's Because I'm Looking for the Airport" cover the ways in which life in the Americas can converge. Several lengthy narratives in the form of letters from musical influences to his family's literary oral traditions. Seven poems presented in Spanish highlight Cruz's bilingual talent. (Sept.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews