Karl Kopp (review date 1977)
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.)