by Pat Mora
Publication Date: 1994
Bind: Trade Paperback
Winner, 1985 Southwest Book Award, and Winner, El Paso Times’ Best Book of Poetry.
El Paso, the pass to the north, lies between vast stretches of desert. This is a geographic accident. Yet like everywhere, people live, love, marry, grow old and die. They also rejoice and despair. These poems relate all these experiences – but in the magical presence, the telluric force, of the desert. Two women poets sing here, one in the guise of the desert, the other in the figure of Pat Mora. Together they intone Chants.
The desert’s beauty is perceived in subtle gradations of color and texture, in stark contrasts between light and darkness. It speaks as a magical force, as a lonely woman and, for our patience, offers flowers. Like the desert, Pat Mora speaks with muted tones, weaves incantations; she invests her poetic space with magical figures, yet from her loneliness come as well fear, resentment and despair. But she learns the peaceful solitude of the desert. From their dialogue, words become blossoms, fragile in desert rhythms.
“Chants is more than 25 years old, but today’s border and immigration debates make it more relevant than ever because it humanizes those living along the border.”
—The Texas Observer
“Mora has a powerful grasp of the music of everyday language, and she is not afraid of dark, complex feelings… This collection is rich, spirited and promising, and it makes me want to read more of her work.”
“Healers, those who restore harmony by bringing together what seems to be separate, often suffer but possess great ‘magic’, and Mora’s is a healing voice.”
“Her poems are chants that hold the reader mesmerized until late in the day when poems are transformed into wishful dreams.”
PAT MORA is a renowned writer of poetry, stories for children and nonfiction. Among her many works are the poetry collections Chants (1984), Borders (1986) and Communion (1994). Mora is also the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of over 30 books for children and young adults, including The Bakery Lady / La señora de la panadería (2001), My Own True Name (2000), The Gift of the Poinsettia / El regalo de la flor de nochebuena (1995), Tomás and the Library Lady, Pablo’s Tree, A Birthday Basket for Tía, The Desert Is My Mother / El desierto es mi madre (1994), Delicious Hullabaloo / Pachanga deliciosa (1998) and Confetti. In 1999, she was the Garrey Carruthers Chair Visiting Distinguished Professor in Honors at the University of New Mexico. An El Paso native and the mother of three grown children, she divides her time between the Southwest and the Cincinnati area where her husband teaches anthropology.
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