August 18, 2008

187 reasons mexicanos can’t cross the border

"Herrera had energy from the beginning: he needed to find forms that would let him use it. Like Ginsberg — like Pablo Neruda, like Walt Whitman — Herrera found such forms in long lists, long lines, long poems made out of short parts, and in the literary device called anaphora, where many lines begin with the same words. No poet alive, perhaps, uses anaphora better; none relies on it more. The title poem in 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border is also the first in the book. Each of its 187 lines begins 'Because': 'Because multiplication is our favorite sport,' 'Because someone made our IDs out of corn,' 'Because we’re still running from La Migra / Because we’re still kissing the Pope’s hand.'"

stephen burt on juan felipe herrera (Fowler, CA, 1948), excerpt from ‘Punk Half Panther’, published in the Sunday Book Review, The New York Times, August 10, 2008