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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2004
I have never been a huge fan of poetry; however, when I found out I was going to have the opportunity to meet Julia Alvarez at a reception I was planning, I read this book. It is thoroughly engaging and every time I picked it up I had a hard time putting it back down. If the eyes are the windows to someone's soul, these poems are Ms. Alvarez's virtual eyes for us to gaze into. In closing, if you have an opportunity to attend a reading with Ms. Alvarez, I highly recommend it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2005
After being frustrated by a number of poorly written books of poetry, this book fell into my lap. Not only did I enjoy this book, but I am sure to read everything else published by Julia Alvarez. A highly recommended read for anyone. Her poems are deep and thoughtful and cover a variety of topics.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2006
I love Julia Alvarez's other books, especially "In the Time of the Butterflies." This is her newest book, a book of poetry. You can see how these poems reflects the author and they really touched home with me. I read and reread the poems and found pieces of myself in almost each one. I have marked the ones that mean the most to me and return to read them often.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2014
Julia Alvarez (1950-) is recognized as an award winning commercially acclaimed poet/essayist/author that beautifully and skillfully weaves and blends her life experiences between Latina and American culture. "The Woman I Kept to Myself": is creative autobiographical story poetry, beginning in the 1960's to current times.

Various stages of Alvarez life (1973-1975), are compared to her great love and appreciation for trees: 'Family Trees', 'Maple, Oak, Elm?', her unhappiness in "wrong life story" a marriage ending in divorce. 'Locust' (1998): tells the joy of finding a partner, publisher, steady job at 40 years of age.
Beginning in 1960 Alvarez writes of her childhood: Anger and Art, The Red Pick-up, Spic: (of bullying), All American Girl, Belleview Mental Hospital (her mothers warning), the 'Abbott Academy' (graduation in 1967, young ladies went to be "tamed", not trained to be world leaders).
'Lunch Hour 1971': Alvarez recalled her work editing 'Special Reports Inc.' and encountering Viet Nam War protesters handing out stale leaflets and Peace buttons, while going to the public library on her lunch break.
Love, marriage, symbolism, and sometimes unhappy circumstances: My Bottom Line, Love Portions, Fights, Tone, Hairbands.
'My Kind of Woman': Eve, Lot's wife, Mary so sweet/humble, Joan of Arc.
'Life Lines': After 40 years of marriage her parents returned to their homeland, Alvarez remembers the death of her mother. In 'Regresso', her father's dementia, his Spanish speech returning, leaving his English language unspoken. 'Aficionados': the love of Latina experience/culture.
Further titled poems are self-explanatory: The Therapist, Disappearing, Gaining Myself Back, and 'Signs' speaking of the afterlife. 'I Dream of Allen Ginsburg' (1997): Ginsburg visits in a dream and talks of madness. 'Famous poet Years Afterward': Alvarez refused to become "muse fodder" to an older famous poet, who already had a wife and mistress, his startling fade into obscurity.
"This is the writing Life, get used to it!" Alvarez tells her students concerning revisions/rewrites, in the poem: 'Why I Teach'. She has raised thousands of students rather then babies. 'Why I write': Alvarez explains she wouldn't have understood herself without a pen/paper to write, (love) letters, lists, notes, cards. In her closing poem: 'Did I Redeem Myself?' she ponders family decisions and dilemmas, the lovers she's left, her life passion surviving past her youth, and redemption. Many of these great poems have been previously published.

Alvarez attended the Connecticut College (1967-1969), Middlebury College (1971), and earned her MFA at Syracuse University, NY in 1975. Alvarez and her husband reside in Champion Valley, VT: they operate a literacy center connected with their organic coffee farming business in the Dominican Republic.
This review is dedicated to my friend poet/artist Emily Sturgill who loaned me 'The Woman I kept to Myself'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2013
This isa very personal narritative told through poetry of one woman's experience, growing up from a hispanic/latino background in the streets and cities of America. It is a story of a female bilateral-divided in half by speaking two different languages and experiencing two very different cultures. Both mostly her poems are filled with beautiful use of langauge. Her poetry isalso filled with one more key element. The element of Hope. Hope leaps off the pages, as you read the different well written poetic verse. I would reccommend this bo
ok to anybody who loves a good poem, but especially to young women, teenagers even, because her poems contain not only hope but strength as well.
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on July 18, 2009
I was given this collection as a gift a couple of years ago, and I read one or two of the poems, and then put it on my to-be-read shelf. Last week I retrieved the book and read the poems over the course of the week...out loud to myself. What a delight!
Each poem is thirty lines long, and divided into three stanzas. There were only a few times that I felt that the form overwhelmed the poem. Alvarez covers a range of subjects in her poems; she writes about trees, about her family, about growing up in the Dominican Republican and in America, about herself as writer, herself as woman, among other things. And all with an easy, insightful touch. I love her sense of humour, I love her voice, I love the way in which the poems reveal aspects of the woman she kept to herself.
This is a collection by a mature poet, looking at her life and celebrating it!
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on August 15, 2013
Julia Alvarez who writes novels, books for children and poetry excels in this new volume of poetry. She 'invented' a new form. Each poem has 30 lines, 75 poems in all. Many are reflective of her writing career. Having moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at the age of ten, her life has been well-chronicled in her previous books. She writes movingly about either culture.

This volume shows how she has matured. In a previous one she wrote 30 sonnets when she turned 30 years old. For the most part it was more light-hearted. Her work is inventive and original. Other poets will appreciate her musing about other well-known poets who inspire her. It is frank and honest and a pleasure to read.
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on August 3, 2012
I am new to reading poetry. Most of it is difficult for me to follow. So when a friend sent me this book after a glowing review of Alvarez's fiction, I was curious to see what kind of poetry she wrote.

I loved it! This was the first book of free verse poetry that I've read that I understood every single poem. Alvarez has the ability to make you feel like you are taking a peek at her life without divulging too much. Her poems made me feel like I understood what free verse was about. They all had nice rhythm and beauty. This positive experience has led me to purchase another book of her poetry as well as purchase a second copy of this book for a friend.
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on June 18, 2011
I should first say that the order was easy to place and arrived promptly as promised.
As to content, Alvarez is refreshing and distinctive voice. Her poety, like her historical fiction and 'memoirs' bring to vivid life the Latina experience both in her home country and as an immigrant girl to the US. She spares us little of the hardship and the brutality of the history, but has a wondrously upbeat vision of herself and her family. She uses humor generously, often with straight faced satire, or sly comments.
Being a big fan of her myself, I bought this volume as a gift for my 14 year old granddaughter, who is a new explorer of adult poetry.
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on June 27, 2015
As a Dominican American woman, Alvarez's work is deeply relatable. I utilized this book for a series of comparative essays I had to write for my English Comp class, having to do with feminism and cross cultural assimilation. I love her work, this was obviously different because it's not an actual narrative, but through it you get a stronger sense as to who Alvarez is and the influences behind all her work. Wish it was longer, but I can't complain. Her poems really hounded the subjects I was focusing on, those which are universal to immigrant women in America.
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