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My Wicked Wicked Ways: Poems (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – April 28, 2015
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From Publishers Weekly
This collection reveals the same affinity for distilled phrasing and surprise, both in language and dramatic development, found in Cisneros's volumes of short stories, Woman Hollering Creek and The House on Mango Street . For a glimpse of it, see the poem "Josie Bliss": "a tropical dream / of Wednesdays / a bitter sorrow / like the salt / between the breasts." Of the book's four parts, the first two immerse the reader in the Chicana homefront, including the poet's own place in it, presumably the San Antonio familiar from her prose work. The remaining two parts leave the barrio behind, as the author's world becomes more cosmopolitan and still more personal. Here Cisneros reflects on herself and her men, on how she treats them and they her. Although some poems in the last sections are excellent--"No Mercy," with its air of a prosecutor's brief, is splendid--as a love poet, Cisneros attitudinizes too much and uses her tight style more to ration her candor than to impel images. Even so, a disconcerting degree of sentimentality somehow gets through ("I forget the reasons, but I loved you once, / remember?"), along with some enervated deadpan humor: "I've learned two things. / To let go / clean as kite string. / And to never wash a man's clothes. / These are my rules."
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“Not only a gifted writer, but an absolutely essential one.” —The New York Times Book Review
“All poets would do well to follow the example of Sandra Cisneros, who takes no prisoners and has not made a single compromise in her language.” — Barbara Kingsolver, Los Angeles Times
“Cisneros is a writer for all people.” —USA Today
“Here the young voice of Esperanza of The House on Mango Street merges with that of the grown woman/poet. My Wicked Wicked Ways is a kind of international graffiti, where the poet—bold and insistent—puts her mark on those traveled places on the map and in the heart.” —Cherríe Moraga
“A writer of power and eloquence and great lyrical beauty.” —The Washington Post Book World
“[Cisneros’] work is sensitive, alert, nuanceful. It is rich with music and picture.” — Gwendolyn Brooks
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Top Customer Reviews
Sandra Cisneros, in her first collection of poems "My Wicked Wicked Ways" was able to evoke this sense of drama repeatedly in her monologues of fictional characters and in songs which seemed to be sung by the poet herself about her life. My personal favourite "Something Crazy" illustrates the necessary conditions of the form:
The man with the blue hat
doesn't come back anymore.
He stopped a long time ago.
Before I got married. Before the kids came.
Nobody looks at me like that anymore.
I was young then, understand?
Nobody ever looked at me before.
I even dreamed that he might take me
to my highschool dance, imagine.
Waitresses have come and gone,
I've stayed on.
The speaker is stationary, in the restaurant where she works- the man in the blue hat is already a thing of the past when the poem opens. She loves him because he is the ONLY thing that ever came along that loved her or that she could love. In its tone and perfection this poem reminds one of the torch-song as perfected by Billy Holiday. As in that genre the speaker stands alone and sings of a love, an overwhelming passion, almost always in the past. What is present is the pain- and the understatement of the pain and the ability through an embrace of the nostalgia of love to transcend it for a moment in a reach for remembered happiness, and recalled warmth despite the present cold. This is the tension of the genre. The speaker is pinned, unable to leave their grief, but attempts to transcend it in a song.
It is the formula, arguably, of any powerful dramatic song or poem- the speaker in pain. But the formula always depends upon the absence of a choice- these people are dramatic because fate has placed them where they are and they could not, whether they wish to or not, be anywhere else.
The title poem of "My Wicked Wicked Ways" picks up on the author's Don Juan Dad, tags him with the mixed mockery (not least self-mockery) and affection of Errol Flynn's autobiography title- and makes the best of a painful reality by recycling this family condition- as best she can- into her own bravura stance. In the poem's photo of a young married couple the father's coming affairs are not yet seen, and neither is the nature of the baby in her mother's arms:
She does not know yet
I will turn out bad.
The stance which will emerge is that of the "bad" girl, the "Loose Woman", the one who loves 'em and leaves 'em when fate or, crucially, a pose of independence, requires. I say that this stance is a pose or theatrical attitude because I find the poems of heartache and loneliness much more convincing.
In "Loose Woman", the follow up collection, the stance overwhelms the tragedy, in this book the song is sung blue and pure. Very few weak poems here. A selection that stings your throat like a shot of tequila. An album you'll put on your turn table again and again.