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This, like so much

Sarah A Chavez, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This, Like So Much is a collection of poems exploring the experience of growing up in a cultural borderland. In an unconventional take on the traditional bildungsroman these poems focus on a young mestiza's negotiation of ethnic identity via an Anglo American mother and a Mexican American father. These poems also explore the politics of the body, how bodies are marked by their race/ethnicity, as well as their social class and work experience. In this sense the speaker's body is the map of her growth through a marginalized and economically deprived environment. In these poems she is tattooed on a playground, leered at, chased, commits violence, is held by her grandmother, and works. As well as issues of ethnicity and ethnic performance, these poems engage with the realities for a young woman growing up in an environment where physical safety is an immediate concern. This vigilance for safety complicates gender and gender performance as an adherence to "feminine" traits becomes problematized. Safety of the body, from sexual attacks and violence in general, is a theme intersecting with class and ethnicity within these poems. Very much within the tradition of both Chican@ and California Central Valley writers, the poems in this collection utilize narrative through lyrical vignettes. In a deviation from these conventions, variations on form and length differs as many of the poems are not only in free verse, but also received forms such as the sestina, villanelle, as well as the ghazal and prose poem. This mixture of forms links thematically to the collection's content to emphasize the issue of hybridity in the lives of the characters. Though the voices within the collection are clearly influenced by earlier Chican@ writers such as Gloria Anzaldúa and Gary Soto, as well as working-class writers such as Jan Beatty and Charles Bukowski, it is its own. Despite the rougher edges of urban and classed-language used throughout, the tone is also nostalgic for what was beautiful within the malaise. This hybridity of voice and tone further strengthens through craft the hybridity explored in the content of the poems.

Subject Area

Womens studies|American literature|Ethnic studies|Creative writing

Recommended Citation

Chavez, Sarah A, "This, like so much" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618199.