alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.13 No.17 | April 22 - 28, 2004 

Book Review

Work Done Well and Right

Three New Poetry Volumes from the Southwest

Though not a densely populated publishing Mecca like the Northeast, the Southwest is home to many small presses whose work is every bit as impressive. Tucson's University of Arizona Press recently released two ambitious, carefully crafted books of poetry: Margo Tamez's Naked Wanting (University of Arizona Press, paper, $15.95) and David Dominguez's Work Done Right (University of Arizona Press, paper, $15.95). Likewise, Albuquerque's La Alameda Press has released Michael Rothenberg's Unhurried Vision (La Alameda Press, paper, $16). This trio of books showcases the publishers' ability to produce well-crafted and beautifully designed books.

Set against the backdrop of Arizona and California, both Naked Wanting and Work Done Right take the seemingly mundane and elevate it to the poetic. For example, Margo Tamez's "On the Wing" is rooted in the world of motherhood. Every act becomes spiritual. She writes, "I'm hanging laundry in autumn ... Tonight I'm praying for the buffalo. ... " Tamez is precise in her language. While not deliberately tackling "big" subjects, her poems show a depth of understanding and appreciation of life in all its complexity.

Likewise, David Dominguez's Work Done Right is a series of narrative poems that highlight the personal dignity of the narrator, Abraham, and his time at "Galdini Sausage," a sausage factory. Dominguez's poem entitled "Oxtail Stew" opens with "At five o'clock in the morning, / I walked to work and passed the green ponds / of Horizon Park where the last bluegill, / caught on the low, slight bank / panted hard in dark mud ... ," lines so beautiful that I had to disappear into a quiet room and read it out loud—twice. Both books succeed in humanizing and poeticizing the mundane aspects of living in the arid Southwest.

Michael Rothenberg's Unhurried Vision is, in its way, both simpler and more complex. The poems are taken from a daily journal, and many of them read like condensed and crafted journal entries from the year 1999. Many of them reflect, reference and/or mention his friend the Beat poet Philip Whalen, whose work no doubt influences Rothenberg's.

Rothenberg's poems also reveal the profundity of the seemingly mundane. For example, in "April 14/War Poem," he writes, "Move in closer / Your dreams are for sale / The green curry chicken / Halibut in garlic sauce will save the day. ... " Many of the poems deal directly with his getting Philip Whalen's things in order. (Whalen died in 2002 after battling a terminal illness.)

Whether it is through the quirky, crafted casualness of Rothenberg's writing, or the more deliberate construction of "Poems" in Margo Tamez's work, or even the linear, narrative structure Dominguez's work, all three books would make fine additions to anybody's poetry library.

Tomorrow's Events


Cuban artist Nestor Siré discusses current trends in Cuban cinema installation work followed by a viewing of his installation. Runs through 4/29.

Prints By Southwest at South Broadway Cultural Center

Aves de Fuego: Personal Reflections on the Spanish Inquisitio at Congregation Nahalat Shalom

More Recommended Events ››

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.