Tuesday, April 22, 2008
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border
Title: 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border
Author: Juan Felipe Herrera
Publisher: City Lights
Yearly Count: 17
187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border contains amazing poetry, anti-poetry, narratives and short stories of Herrera's works for over 35 years. This book gathers the "undocuments" from 1971-2007, and reading it you can watch the history of the Mexicano unfold before you, it is as though Herrera has painted a wall, a wall of graffiti. Art many willingly accept yet others will walk right past never daring to look too hard. This wall is sometimes disjointed, uncomfortable, and awkward, but that is the life of the Mexicano in this world, and that is the beauty of the picture Juan Felipe Herrera lays before his readers. Also like a graffiti wall in that you get little snippets of love and hate, of peace, of war, of pride and self-consciousness. Each story or poem gives glimpses, which alone would be beautiful, but in this compilation they become completed as all together they form a whole. Reading through the undocuments, some really captured me, drove me to a new level of compassion and understanding, while others were most likely targeting someone else. Just as walking through an art exhibit some pieces you cannot tear yourself from, others you barely notice...and understand that each viewer/ reader will take home a completely different experience. Herrera will meet you where you are. He will challenge you at the place you now find yourself.
Herrera goes beyond these borders and also captures the relations between the landinos and the indios of Mexico and the full America Latina. He goes out of his way to show us the differences, the similarities, and the life, that if we are not living are not aware of the difficulty that comes with it. Yet, this is not only a text full of sadness, pain and suffering, it is just as full of pride, loyalty, love, and acceptance. It is a modern day Tarzan call to all those who will hear, it is a cry that rings throughout the nations, a call that when read cannot be ignored, it is a cry mostly for truth, and justice. It is a call to be prideful of your heritage, to not give in to smoothing differences, to not change the way you appear to yourself or to the critics around you. In 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border, Herrera displayed one thing with the loudest voice: injustice. He gave injustice a voice- a jagged, crunchy, palpable voice.
Here is an excerpt: