Put together largely in response to the book bannings and abolition of Mexican-American studies in Arizona and as a cry against the current political climate for immigrants, this is Urrea’s first book of poetry in more than 10 years. An exquisitely composed collection of poetry on life at the border, Urrea weaves English and Spanish languages as fluidly as he blends cultures of the southwest. He offers a tour of Tijuana, spanning from Skid Row, to the suburbs of East Los Angeles, to the stunning yet deadly Mojave Desert, to Mexico and the border fence itself. Mixing lyricism and colloquial voices, mysticism and the daily grind, Urrea explores duality and the concept of blurring borders in a melting pot society.
I have always loved poetry. If you came to my house, you’d see that my writing room is not filled with craft books or grammar texts. But I am surrounded by hundreds of poems. I’m not saying I’m any good at poetry, but I dive in like a 17 year old boy in love. I worked on a book for years called Piedra. That became this. My first books of poems are hard to find, but I am planning a New & Selected Poems volume. Or should I say, the patient editors at U of Arizona Press have been imagining such a beast. It even has a title. But I had to get this big book done first. My heart is on display. (A reading tip: the book starts with the line, “You who seek grace from a distracted God”; it ends with the line, “you are not forgotten.” Astute readers have figured out that the book is in some ways a very long sentence…or prayer. Even with the f-bombs and sex.) I must add one point: my TJ homies in Nortec have a song called “Tijuana Makes Me Happy.” It does.