Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 332

"Business" is a small poem, both in length and in ambition. Accordingly, critics have not paid much attention to it. However, they have reviewed Mainland , the collection in which it appeared. Writing for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Pamela Masingale Lewis notes that "reviewers of Mainland were pleased to see themes which departed from the New York experience. They marveled at the presence of multiple cultures in Cruz's poetry. One critic noted that the Mainland voice is ' 'more developed’’ and less self-conscious than that of Snaps [Cruz's previous collection], but felt the abstractions were inappropriate for the sensuous imagery. On the whole, Mainland was lauded by critics for its diverse themes and the ease with which Cruz exposes the underside of Mainland U.S.A. Reviewing Mainland for Library Journal, Dorothy Nyren writes that Cruz's ‘‘juxtaposition and intermingling of Latin and Anglo ways of seeing things gives an inner tension to the verse that makes it continually surprising and interesting.’’ Laverne González, writing in the Biographical Dictionary of Hispanic Literature in the United States, agrees, saying that for Cruz,"Memory of the island experience invades and informs the Mainland experience as images, languages, and allusions mingle with the reality of the Bronx, the United States, particularly California, and finally Puerto Rico again.’’

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Allen Ginsberg and Ishmael Reed, two poets known for their experiments with poetic form and controversial content, were effusive in their praise of Mainland. On the book's dust jacket, Reed writes,"Victor Hernández Cruz is an original American poet. He is young, together, and his work is heavy pagan feet crushing the necks of the Imperial dead.’’ Ginsberg's praise, like his poetry, is almost hallucinatory: ‘‘Poesy news front space anxiety police age inner city, spontaneous urban American language as Williams wished, high school street consciousness transparent, original soul looking out intelligent Bronx windows.’’ Ginsberg's reference is to William Carlos Williams the influential twentieth-century American poet who encouraged poets to discover the American idiom in their own neighborhoods.

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