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Book details
  • Genre:POETRY
  • SubGenre:American / Hispanic & Latino
  • Language:English
  • Pages:73
  • eBook ISBN:9781936196326

The Ghost of Cesar Chavez

by David Dominguez

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"Don't be misled by the title of David Dominguez's THE GHOST OF CESAR CHAVEZ. This book has nothing to do with shades or specters. Dominguez's project is to reanimate the dead, to bring the lost souls of his past back to life. Dominguez celebrates the legacy of Cesar Chavez, and revivifies a host of forebears, lovers, friends and campesinos who populate his beloved San Joaquin Valley. Dominguez chronicles his family's resonant history, and he moves through his poems with such elegance and musical grace that reading them feels like dancing. The last, long section of his book details the toil and the joy of building a house, and when he beckons us to follow him through 'the scared hallways of home,' we do so with pleasure" --Gary Young.
By bringing us pear blossoms and knife blades, smells of salt and poison, Dominguez weaves an artful web out of the opposites that hold us together. History, both personal and communal, comes alive in the best way, here: through our bodies. As easily as we feel sprinkler water puddle under our toes, we also join Dominguez in the less sublime, but more poignantly human condition of gluttony (a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting—how often do you get to experience that guilty pleasure in a poem?). Even in encouraging his students to dream beyond the packinghouse, he foregrounds the physical: “Give them queso ranchero, and then, tell them to share their words.” Read and savor these poems; join Dominguez “eating figs from the garden” on his backyard patio for a plática poética— and finish fulfilled by the many ways his lively, compassionate narrations both awaken and placate new hungers. —Maria Melendez “Gather them, my friend, the way a spirit gathers the scent of orange blossoms.” The friend in question is the late Chicano poet Andrés Montoya. In other words, these poems are unapologetically rooted in California’s Central Valley where “watermelon [is] sprinkled with chili powder,” where by the end of one poem, the speaker is “leaves dripping into a basin brimming with hose water /…sound rising up and touching the stars.” And yet in another piece, the speaker is “throw[ing] pizza boxes like Frisbees / across the family room floor.” That is: although David Dominguez is a poet wedded to craft and specificity (and therefore a solid poet indeed), The Ghost of César Chávez is rightly wedded to life, which is why I enjoyed it so much. It’s a book I’ll buy to give away. —Francisco Aragón
About the author
David Dominguez's first book of poetry, Work Done Right, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2003. Dominguez's poems have appeared in journals such as The Bloomsbury Review, Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, and The Southern Review. His work has been anthologized in BEAR FLAG REPUBLIC: PROSE POEMS AND POETICS FROM CALIFORNIA, BREATHE: 101 CONTEMPORARY ODES, and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, among others. He earned his B.A. in comparative literature from the University of California at Irvine and his M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Arizona. He teaches composition and poetry writing at Reedley College and is the co-founder and poetry editor of The Packinghouse Review.