Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
"The book, Vera's second full-length collection, consists of forty-five poems in five distinct sections. Taken as a whole--without the "borders," if you will--there is a cohesive voice and message." Out Smart
"Vera writes so we know how it was for him, and that makes us more alive too. He makes story link to poetry so that it matters to others. He allows the writing to evolve voluntarily and doesn't push to persuade; letting people, sights, tastes, smells do the talking." Washington Independent Review of Books
From the Back Cover
- Publisher : Red Hen Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 80 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1597092746
- ISBN-13 : 978-1597092746
- Item Weight : 4 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,736,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
As I write this extremely necessary and long overdue review of Dan Vera’s collection of poems, Speaking Wiri Wiri, which was published in 2013 by Red Hen Press for winning the 2012 Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, I am reminded of another new book that I finished reading for the fourth time, Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s Writing Poetry to Save Your Life (Miroland Publishers, 2013). Gillan states: “Only poems that make you cry or laugh or make the hair on your arms stand up are worth writing. Anything else is just you trying to fit in, to be acceptable, to be what critics want you to believe a true poet is” (23). I could not have said that more accurately and perfectly. But what I can confidently say is that Vera knows what it is to be a true poet, creating true poetry, allowing his readers to cry and laugh, to feel a range of emotions, and to know what it means to be human. And that is why I am truly grateful for Vera’s book and his other work.
I stopped counting after I read Speaking Wiri Wiri for the twelfth time. It is one of those rare books that has had an emotional impact on my life and has affected me intricately and profoundly. My favorite poem is the last one, “Asombrado,” which is the perfect finale to this compelling collection of forty-five poems. The poem is about the 2009 March on Washington for Immigration Reform, but what it is really about is making a community of people visible to a mainstream society and a hypocritical government that prefer them to be unseen and silent. It is about giving voices to the voiceless and powerless. It is about Latinos and immigrants no longer tolerating the marginalization, discrimination, and injustice. This is what Vera does best: he passionately writes poetry about the personal and the political, interweaving the two because he knows that one does not exist without the other, and he knows that true poetry comes from the roots of both. Vera’s poems make us think and feel; they touch our minds and souls.
Toni Morrison said that “all art is political,” and I agree. And those who disagree are simply clueless to the political world in which they live, or maybe they are sheltered in their privilege. Fortunately, Vera and I are not naïve and sheltered in our privilege. Poetry must be political. Poetry must also be emotional and personal. If a poet wishes to write a poem about a tree, then it better also be a poem about how the tree is in danger of being chopped down for human consumption, development, and greed. Vera is able to situate current personal, social, and political issues in his poems, and other poets must do the same. He understands the reality in which he lives and writes—in which he survives, thrives, and creates his art—so why don’t other poets understand this? Why can’t other poets do what Vera does so effortlessly?
Poems must be the earthquakes that send tremors through my entire body, that shake me to my core, that shatter my mind and soul. Vera’s poems are my precious earthquakes that move, that satiate me, that make me yearn for more. Oh, how I wish that other poets wrote earthquakes. Therefore, my advice to other poets is to study Vera’s talents and skills, and to take cues from him. If you are a narcissistic poet who chooses to write only about your daily mundane life, then please don’t make your poem as mundane as your life. If you are a poet, especially a gay poet, who constantly chooses to write only about sex, either because you are getting lots of it or none of it, then your poem better be orgasmic, it better give me an orgasm, otherwise don’t bother wasting your time and mine. Time is never wasted when reading Vera’s poetry.
As for those scholars who are wannabe poets, who write from inside the walls of the academy—who write intellectual poetry instead of emotional poetry—then I have no time for your useless contributions. I hate intellectual poetry. You can intellectualize a theory, not a poem. And I am not wasting my time and brain cells trying to decode your poems, trying to figure out what you are trying to write and communicate. Poetry does not belong to the elite; it belongs to everyone. Vera’s poetry is for all of us. He welcomes all of us into his poetic home and heart, asks us to stay for a while, and makes us comfortable. He is truly a hospitable poet.
In 2008, Dan Vera and Bo Young published an excerpt from my essay on being gay and ethnic, in their White Crane Journal. In his comments about my essay, Vera understood what it meant to be gay and ethnic in heterosexist white America. From the very beginning, Dan understood me, and I understood him. We share similar experiences and beliefs. Simpatico at its finest! And as I read Speaking Wiri Wiri again and again, I feel happy knowing that there is another poetic soul in this cruel world who is also interested in making this planet a better place. I am grateful to Vera for his poetry, his compassion, his generosity. Bravo to him for writing his book, and bravo to the award committee for getting it right and honoring poetry that undoubtedly deserves it.
By Gloria Padilla-Carlson on November 3, 2014
Throughout "Speaking Wiri Wiri," Vera shows himself to be a poet of plain language, but capable of turns of phrase that take our breath away. (In the poem "Caduco," when Vera's mother remarks that most of the pictures in his photo album are of his dog, he says, "I laughed and thought/this is what happens/when the tail grabs the heart.") The subjects of the poems range widely, from a visit by Nabokov to the Smithsonian to Cesar Romero playing the Joker on the "Batman" TV series, but Vera always returns to subjects of family and identity. In "Commemorations of Forgotten History," Vera's family makes a pilgrimage to the Catskills town where Jose Marti lived for a time, only to find is no monument, plaque or even local knowledge of the great Cuban poet. "Asombrado" tells of the 2009 March on Washington for Immigration Reform. ("They march past the office buildings/of the government that can not see them/that considers them a menace and urban legend.") In "I Know You Little Codfish," Vera commemorates "the phrases of our fathers" that contain a wealth of both heritage and wisdom: "They reveal memory to be the master/of a treasure more profound/than any English we may have mastered.") "Speaking Wiri Wiri" is a delightful and important book of poetry by a humane, thoughtful, and masterful young writer.
Mr. Vera is a gift to our community, and his book is wonderful. Check it out.
P.S. I'm a librarian with DC's public library... here's my review and a link to the book at the library: [...]