by Tato Laviera

ISBN: 978-1-5588-5500-7
Publication Date: March 31, 2003
Bind: Paperback
Pages: 96



In Tato Laviera’s third collection, poems celebrate the array of stripes and colors making up the American people.  In the beginning section, “Ethnic Tributes,” Laviera crafts poems with titles like, “arab,” “black,” “chinese,” “greek,” “jamaican,” “spanish,” and “mundo-world.” In “boricua,” he fashions a timely plea for an end to prejudice, saying that for Puerto Ricans “. . . color is generally color-blind/with us, that’s our contribution, all/ the colors are tied/to our one.”

The latter two sections of the collection, “Values” and “Politics” build on the themes of ethnic exchange and the place of the boriqueño in that greater scheme.  In “commonwealth,” Laviera writes of these tensions. “I’m still in the commonwealth/ stage of my life, not knowing/ which ideology to select.”

The poems of Tato Laviera are complex and engaging; through his words, his spirit, his bilingualism, and his dual identity he offers readers poems that are a celebration of life and identity.

Wolfgang Binder, Professor at the University of Erlangen in the Federal Republic of Germany writes, “With AmeRícan, Tato Laviera confirms his excellent reputation as a vital poet and humanist.  Laviera is postulating and ‘defining the new America, humane America,’ but he will not be absorbed by a mythical melting pot.”