“Stop, Time, your fast race; / turn back to my lost infancy.” With the final poem of this collection, “Upon Turning Twenty One,” famed Chicano folklorist Américo Paredes closes a chapter in his life—one written during his formative years from 1932 to 1937—as he grew from a seventeen-year-old boy to a twenty-one-year-old man. In doing so, the renowned writer looks “toward the unknown future maze.”
Originally published in 1937 by Librería Española in San Antonio, Texas, this new edition contains the first-ever English translations of the original Spanish poems and an introduction by the translators, scholars and poets in their own right, B.V. Olguín and Omar Vásquez Barbosa.
Paredes, who died in 1999 at the age of 84, is widely considered to have been at the forefront of the movement that saw the birth of Chicana/o literary and cultural studies as an academic discipline in the 1970s and 1980s. This collection of poetry written during his teenage years lays the groundwork for themes he explored in later writings: culture conflict, race relations, gender relations, materialism, hybridity, and transnationalism. In his youthful, first-person voice, Paredes explores intimate, angst-filled issues relevant to all young people, such as love, memory, and rebellion.
Published as part of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project Series, this vital volume is a must read for Paredes scholars and those interested in the dynamic intersection of cultures in the 1930s. It contains a literary chronology of Paredes’ literary development and includes correspondence, photos, and other materials from the Américo Paredes Papers at the Archival Collections of the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.