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Directions to the Beach of the Dead (Camino del Sol) Paperback – September 1, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award!

“Takes the reader on a splendid journey through time, love, family, and heritage.” —Multicultural Review

“This heartfelt collection of poems is an endless pursuit of what we hope to become.” —Multicultural Review

"Directions to the Beach of the Dead is absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous in its quest for place, family, self-discovery. For all poetry lovers, this will be a difficult book to top." —Virgil Suarez 

"Part travel diary and part journal in time, Directions to the Beach of the Dead takes Blanco into uncharted territory, emotionally as well as geographically, showcasing his great gift for the precise notation of sights, thoughts, and feelings. This book confirms Blanco's place as a strong and distinctive voice in American poetry. —Gustavo Perez Firmat 

 

From the Inside Flap

In his second book of narrative, lyric poetry, Richard Blanco explores the familiar, unsettling journey for home and connections, those anxious musings about other lives: aShould I live here? Could I live here?a Whether the exotic (aIam struck with Maltese fever a]I dream of buying a little Maltese farma]) or merely different (aToday, home is a cottage with morning in the yawn of an open windowa]a), he examines the restlessness that threatens from merely staying put, the fear of too many places and too little time. The words are redolent with his Cuban heritage: Marina making mole sauce; TA-a Ida bitter over the revolution, missing the sisters who fled to Miami; his father, especially, ahis hair once as black as the black of his oxfordsa]a Yet this is a volume for all who have longed for enveloping arms and words, and for that sanctuary called home. aSo much of my life spent like this-suspended, moving toward unknown places and names or returning to those I know, corresponding with the paradox of crossing, being nowhere yet here.a Blanco embraces juxtaposition. There is the Cuban Blanco, the American Richard, the engineer by day, the poet by heart, the rhythms of Spanish, the percussion of English, the first-world professional, the immigrant, the gay man, the straight world. There is the ennui behind the question: why cannot I not just live where I live? Too, there is the precious, fleeting relief when he can write "a]I am, for a moment, not afraid of being no more than what I hear and see, no more than this: ..." It is what we all hope for, too.
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Product Details

  • Series: Camino del Sol
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816524793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816524792
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Blanco is the real deal. So much poetry today is bland, plain vanilla, like art that people walk by quickly in a museum to get to the gift shop or say they've been there. Blanco is anything but. Directions to the Beach, if anything, is even more fiery than his first volume, the award-winning City of a Hundred Fires. Blanco takes us everywhere--we are on a journey: through the Straits of Messina, to Paris, New York, Miami. We meet lovers (here you will find a series of "for" poems like no others--for M.C., C.S.B., B.L), friends, family members (my favorites: Abuelo and Abuela). Here are the things and stuff of poetry--a world like no other. America: give us a poetry that speaks to our finest sensibilities; that tells the truth about family, love, loss, beauty and joy. Give us the sensuous detail. Give us all of this in language (or rather languages--for what are our languages if not English and Spanish?). The leavened bread; the deep red wine.

Seek no further. Here it is.
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Richard Blanco's Directions to the Beach of the Dead carries a moving recommendation on its cover from Sandra Cisneros, who writes of "feeling" that she "was trespassing on the intimate correspondence between a lover and a beloved." She also describes her desire "to be the receiver of such exquisite letters." Blanco's poetry inspires "intimate" and "personal" reactions. Students, who have studied his first book, City of a Hundred Fires (1997), speak to its "beauty" and "courage" and one student writes of a "personal engagement" with "people and places I've never met and never known." It is tempting then, as Sandra Cisneros does, to imagine ourselves "listening in" while Blanco engages his intimate other, but it is equally tempting to see ourselves as the receiver or even the sender of these letters. We find ourselves as active players within his poetry, imaginatively engaging the characters and places. In this sense then, Blanco's poetry is about engagement but also about absence; he creates a vulnerability in his writings within the strength and vitality of a language that is animate and alive. Blanco's work presents a curious paradox then: It possesses both a vulnerability and a strength, simultaneously open and exposed to emotional need and offering access to a force capable of coming to terms with such longing.

The volume's opening section offers glimpses into Blanco's travels in Rome, Venice, Barcelona, France, and Guatemala and Brazil. The collection's title poem instructs the reader on how to reach the "Beach of the Dead": "Go to Europe, go to Spain, in Barcelona, walk/under centuries hanging from the iron lamps" (ll 1-2). The poet then offers more personal suggestions for the journey: "Pull out your map, follow/the town's names lettered straight out to into the sea/ . . .
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These narrative poems are beautiful. The imagery that Richard Blanco creates with his words is captured emotion. I recommend this collection of poems and enjoy the journey the Richard Blanco takes his readers on.
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A wonderful poet has brought poetry back into my life!His poems are real, right on the time, and so easy to read. I had the
pleasure of hearing him read his poems at a reception Bethel gave for him, and he reads with such passion that you just
feel his poetry!
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I first heard about Blanco when he read his inauguration poem on television. Initially I felt that it wasn't even poetry, but soon realized that whatever it was, it touched my heart. So I bought two of his books, and found that his work is just as direct and beautiful as when it is spoken. Blanco's stuff reaches to the core of my being.
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Richard Blanco...what can I say? I love all of his prose and poetry. He is the pride of the Cuban community. Another beautiful work.
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