COOL SALSA by Lori M. Carlson


Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States
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Age Range: 10 & up
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 The founder of the bilingual children's magazine Azul offers a collection of poetry by Gary Soto, Oscar Hijuelos (who also contributes an introduction) and other contemporary Latino writers from both the edges and the heartland of our country. Most, but not all, of the poems were written in English first; they appear here in the original, and also in translations: sometimes literal, sometimes free, sometimes by the poet, generally by another. Gathered by theme--``School Days,'' ``Hard Times,'' ``Time To Party,'' etc.--they express a wide range of experience and feeling in direct ways, from Gina ValdÇs's ironic ``English con Salsa'' (``Welcome to ESL 100, English Surely Latinized'') or Pat Mora's ``Mango Juice'' (``Eating mangoes/on a stick/is laughing/as gold juice/slides down/your chin...'') to Luis J. Rodr°guez's account of being beaten upon venturing into a white neighborhood to buy groceries (`` `Race' Politics''). Six of the poems here are truly bilingual, mixing languages in intriguing ways. In ``Why Do Men Wear Earrings on One Ear?'' Trinidad Sanchez Jr. exclaims: ``Sepa yo!/Maybe por costumbre, maybe porque es la moda/or they have made promesas...because la chica selling them was sooooo mamacita...'' Carlson assumes that most of her readers will be more comfortable in English; the English version of each poem comes first, and Spanish phrases are translated (``Sepa yo: How should I know?'') in an appended glossary. Poetry with a distinct flavor: a skillfully mixed appetizer for After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties (1992) and other larger collections. Biographical sketches. (Poetry. 10-up)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8050-3135-9
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1994


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