Reviews for Maraca : New & Selected Poems, 1966-2000

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 September #1
"If a psychiatrist saw such fantasy/ him make for airport." A key figure in the Nuyorican school of poetry that came together in the late '60s on New York's Lower East Side, Cruz has continued to develop his hybrid poetics, from books like By Lingual Wholes (1982) and Red Beans (1991) to Panoramas (1997) and recent small-press work. In fact, this collection includes large swaths of previously unpublished poems from four decades worth of work, beginning with poems from the mid-'60s and moving through Papo Got His Gun (1966) and Snaps (1969), two books that brought early acclaim. While tercets like "slow the city up/ watch/ let it all hang out" may rely a little too heavily on the zeitgeist of their era, the poems as a whole evince a wryly matter-of-fact, documentarian approach to urban life that feels utterly contemporary. And while bilingual work that jump-cuts across codes is now commonplace, Cruz's idioms hit highs and lows effortlessly, singularly and with political bite: "Percolating out of edam cheese/ CuraƧao coconut bridge/ Colonialism is always/ Take and get/ Energy colonizes the cream." The newer poems include "Moroccan Children," "Jack Kerouac" ("Americano writer/ in the midst of music") and "Camaron de la Isla," the last with "Moorish vapors out of his pores,/ Arabian carabelas." Now 51, Cruz splits his time between New York and Puerto Rico, continuing to show us how to "take the path back/ To the island of vegetation/ Let us retrogress into the future." Forecast: Cruz is well known for his spoken-word work, which should support sales when he next hits the road. Look for this collection to sell well and garner po-biz commendations, if not large-scale reviews. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.