Luis Omar Salinas Criticism - Essay

Eliezar Risco Lozada and Guillermo Martinez (essay date 1970)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Crazy Gypsy, Origenes Publication, 1970, pp. 7-11.

[In the following essay, Risco Lozada and Martinez note thematic and stylistic aspects of Salinas's work, including an emphasis on surrealism, women, loneliness, and Chicano identity.]

Omar is the Crazy Gypsy. Omar is the whistler of tunes. Omar is the dreamer of stoics, of nightingales, of moons, of bellies, of stars, and of death. Omar is the poet of somnambular beginnings … amazed by his own trickery at finding the right words to say to the virgin. Omar is the claimer of bodies … undertaker of America. Omar is the son of Aram the happy money man. Omar is the repairman of corazones. Who...

(The entire section is 970 words.)

Gary Soto (review date 1980)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Crazy Gypsy, in Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, 1980, pp. 229-34.

[A distinguished Chicano poet, essayist, memoirist, short story writer, and educator, Soto was the editor of Salinas's 1987 The Sadness of Days. In the review below, he assesses the strengths and weaknesses of Crazy Gypsy.]

I remember reading somewhere that happy literature has no history; it has no place among serious letters. As a child moves toward maturity, begins to see and feel the world as if for the first time, he throws aside the happy literature—comic books and adventure novels—and turns to the shelf where lie the works of Flaubert, Cervantes,...

(The entire section is 1455 words.)

Luis Omar Salinas (essay date 26 February 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A chapter in Partial Autobiographies: Interviews with Twenty Chicano Poets, edited by Wolfgang Binder, Palm & Enke, 1985, pp. 147-49.

[In the following essay, originally composed in 1982, Salinas discusses his life, his literary influences, and poetry writing.]

I was born June 27th, 1937, in a small town by the name of Robstown, Texas. Christened and baptized in the Catholic Church Luis Omar Salinas. The son of Rosendo Valdez Salinas and Olivia Treviño Salinas. My father was born in the States and my mother in Paraz, Mexico. Before I was age four my mother died of tuberculosis, and I have vague recollections of her. My father worked in farms. At age four I...

(The entire section is 1461 words.)

Gary Soto (essay date Summer 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Luis Omar Salinas: Chicano Poet," in MELUS, Vol. 9, No. 2, Summer, 1982, pp. 47-82.

[In the following excerpt, in part based on interviews conducted with Salinas and his teachers and publishers, Soto examines various poems from Salinas's oeuvre, noting their underlying melancholy and incorporation of surrealistic imagery and political concerns. Much of the unexcerpted portion of the essay provides a biographical overview of Salinas's life, particularly his childhood, adolescence, and college years.]

Crazy Gypsy is an uneven book of 39 poems, some of which are ungrammatical, scattered in thought, and poorly crafted, while others are a bit silly, as the...

(The entire section is 2768 words.)

Luis Omar Salinas with Cindy Veach (interview date 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An interview in Northwest Review, Vol. 20, Nos. 2 & 3, 1982, pp. 238-41.

[In the interview below, Salinas relates his interest in death and its import in his poetry as well as his literary influences.]

"Many Things of Death"
Death today
of apples
worms chewing
their gums

a child with mud
on his hands

today it has
the mouth of an insect
crawling through
the avenues

it has the...

(The entire section is 1136 words.)

John Addiego (review date 1983)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Darkness Under the Trees, in Northwest Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, 1983, pp. 150-51.

[In the review below, Addiego commends Salinas's Darkness under the Trees, observing that his verse has a dark, brooding quality typically associated with Spanish literature.]

There's a fierce humor in the personal cosmos Salinas creates in his new book, Darkness Under the Trees: Walking Behind the Spanish. Beneath the humor a compassionate, lonely person is looking squarely at death; the grotesque characters (polite hunchbacks, pregnant barmaids, mad people) are compared to the speaker, whose tonal leaps from the supplicant to the bawdy make him...

(The entire section is 487 words.)

Charlotte M. Wright (review date May 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Sadness of Days: Selected and New Poems, in Western American Literature, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, May, 1988, p. 91.

[In the review below, Wright examines the evocative power of The Sadness of Days.]

The poems in The Sadness of Days are not for the faint of heart. Full of anger, blood, spittle, and venom, these poems speak of the clashes of the world: between young and old, between rich and poor, between educated and uneducated, between living and dead. Luis Omar Salinas's poetic voice expresses itself in the language of darkness. Consider these poems as examples: "Prelude to Darkness," "As Evening Lays Dying," "Darkness Under the Trees,"...

(The entire section is 149 words.)

Gary Soto (review date July-August 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Voices of Sadness & Science," in The Bloomsbury Review, Vol. 8, No. 4, July-August, 1988, p. 21.

[In the following, Soto offers a generally favorable assessment of The Sadness of Days.]

The Chicano protest poets of the sixties and early seventies have put down their pens and have gone into real estate or, if they haven't gone off to make a living, to raise a family, to do the best they can, then they have continued to write just as loudly but with fewer willing listeners. In their place, a number of literate poets have surfaced who speak more quietly, but just as urgently, and with a greater expanse of ideas—poets like Alberto Rios, Lorna Dee Cervantes,...

(The entire section is 790 words.)