Leroy V. Quintana Criticism - Essay

Karl Kopp (review date 1977)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Hijo del Pueblo, American Book Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, December, 1977, pp. 19-20.

[In the following review, Kopp praises the manner in which Quintana collects and expresses communal experiences in his poetry.]

Leroy Quintana's Hijo del Pueblo is a strong book, handsomely printed, intelligently arranged and illustrated. The poems evolve from a child's partial view of the doings and stories of “the old ones” of his village, through the poet's experience as a young adult, and on to a complete awareness of one's world, or “pueblo.”

But the simple (deceptively simple) viewpoint of the child—though growing in a sense of humor, irony, and sadness—never leaves these poems. Two drawings by Trini Lopez anchor this—the first of a boy, his body still rounded from babyhood, looking objectively with full black eyes at the world beyond his door; and then, the last illustration in the book, an older boy stands at the extreme right of the page—hurt-looking and grieved—against a vast background of black.

The key to the force of these mostly short, laconic poems is this long line, I think, from the poem “Don Santos”: “secrets I as a young boy was to learn from the silence of old men.” Understatement, humility, gentle irony, a sense of mystery, love. These qualities are the bases of Leroy Quintana's power and strength. He speaks with more than his own voice. He speaks for his “pueblo,” for the fading days of a long and human tradition. “New Mexico Poems,” the sub-title, is right. Leroy gives to this place and to these people a...

(The entire section is 683 words.)

Douglas K. Benson (essay date 1985)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Intuitions of a World in Transition: The New Mexican Poetry of Leroy V. Quintana,” in Bilingual Review/La Revista Bilingue, Vol. 12, Nos. 1 & 2, January, 1985, pp. 62-80.

[In the following essay, Benson discusses the role of tradition and intuition as sources of knowledge in Quintana's poetry.]

The poetry of Leroy V. Quintana evokes a dense, contradictory world, full of mystery and barely perceived truths—truths not even fully understood by the speakers who translate them for us. In his first two books, Hijo del pueblo (1976) and the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award winner Sangre (1981), Quintana has condensed into brief...

(The entire section is 10214 words.)

Leroy V. Quintana with Douglas K. Benson (interview date 1985)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Conversation with Leroy V. Quintana,” in Bilingual Review/La Revista Bilingue, Vol. 12, No. 3, September, 1985, pp. 218-229.

[In the following interview, Benson talks with Quintana about how his home village and his experiences during the Vietnam War shaped his poetry.]

Leroy V. Quintana was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 10, 1944. He never knew his father; during his early years he lived with his grandparents in Ratón, in the northern part of the state. Their tales of family members, village people, witches, buried tesoro, and la Llorona directly inform the poems in his first two books: Hijo del Pueblo (1976) and Sangre (1981)....

(The entire section is 8093 words.)

Douglas K. Benson (essay date 1986)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Inner and Outer Realities of Chicano Life: The New Mexican Perspective of Leroy V. Quintana,” in Perspective on Contemporary Literature, Vol. 12, No. 12, 1986, pp. 20-28.

[In the following essay, Benson explores the significance of multicultural and family influences on Quintana's poetry.]

The poetry of Leroy V. Quintana opens up for us a world and a vision which until now has remained inaccessible to the majority of American readers. Many of Quintana's fellow Chicanos from outside New Mexico consider it remote as well, for the particular kind of mystical fatalism that gives its stamp to his people is essentially unknown and widely misunderstood (Gerdes...

(The entire section is 3695 words.)

Jon Forrest Glade (review date 1994)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “War and Injustice,” in American Book Review, Vol. 16, No. 1, April/May, 1994, p. 21.

[In the following excerpted review, Glade surveys Quintana's Vietnam war poems.]

As I write this review during the early hours of Memorial Day, Channel 23 telecasts a marathon of war movies almost entirely about World War II. The sound is turned off, but, as I get up from the typewriter for a fresh cup of coffee or to check my notes against one of the poems from Leroy V. Quintana's Interrogations, I glimpse black-and-white images of war. The actors change from movie to movie, but each film—be it about an infantry platoon, a bomber crew, or a small squad on a...

(The entire section is 1009 words.)

Demetria Martinez (review date 1996)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Other Side of the Tracks,” in The Progressive, Vol. 60, No. 9, September, 1996, p. 43.

[In the following review, Martinez praises Quintana's poetry for its accessibility, and for the sense of the importance of community she finds in it.]

Poetry is not for those who write it; it is for those who need it. This conviction—uttered by a postman who embellishes his love letters with Pablo Neruda's poems in the movie The Postman—goes to the heart of a crisis of meaning haunting United States poetry.

Too many poets, ensconced in academic towers of Babel, write for learned elites. With slow book sales and poor attendance at...

(The entire section is 685 words.)

James Hatch (essay date 1997)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Surreal and the Real,” in American Book Review, Vol. 18, No. 5, July/August, 1997, pp. 23-24.

[In the following essay, Hatch regrets that Quintana's poetry seldom delves beneath the surface of his characters' attitudes and responses.]

If a reader comes to these two books of poetry hoping to be informed about the contemporary Chicano experience, he or she will be left asking, “Which particular one?” Juan Felipe Herrera's Love after the Riots is in essence and in detail an urban poem, self-conscious and nervy, while Leroy V. Quintana's simple poems in My Hair Turning Gray among Strangers (introduction by Robert Creeley) concentrate...

(The entire section is 1243 words.)

Tayari Jones (review date 1999)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: “Memories, Boiled and Strained,” in The Progressive, Vol. 63, No. 11, November, 1999, pp. 43-44.

[In the following review, Jones praises Quintana's poetry for its social consciousness.]

Leroy V. Quintana is one of the most under-read, “successful” writers pubishing today. His volume of poetry Sangre (1981) won both the El Paso Border Regional Library Association Award and the American Book Award for poetry. Yet Quintana's writing suffers from invisibility today, as does the work of many Latino writers. In spite of this, he continues to produce riveting poems.

His latest book, The Great Whirl of Exile, is no exception. He...

(The entire section is 741 words.)