Jimmy Santiago Baca American Literature Analysis
The charges that Baca’s poetry is prosy and self-engrossed are, to some extent, justified; he has also been accused of misspelling the Chicano Spanish that his poems include. Some readers might also feel that Baca’s empathy for convicts and members of youth gangs overlooks an important factor: What about their victims?
These criticisms should not be allowed to obscure Baca’s achievements. He is largely a self-taught poet who has shown tremendous development, and indicated the capacity for more, over his career. It has been said that Baca taught himself to read and write in prison. He got his schooling primarily from the streets and prison, so it is not surprising that his early work should reflect this background. Nor is it surprising that his early work should be prosy, documentary descriptions of his experiences.
The remarkable advances made by Baca are apparent in Martín: &, Meditations on the South Valley. There are prosy passages, especially when Baca provides exposition and narrative transitions, but the description is sharper, more selective, and filled with striking, even surrealistic, metaphors:
The lonely afternoon in the vast expanse of Ilano,was a blue knifesharpening its hot, silver edge on the distanthorizon of mountains, the wind blew over
(The entire section is 1698 words.)
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