Manuel Paul López
The poems in Manuel Paul López’s The Yearning Feed, winner of the 2013 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, are embedded in the San Diego/Imperial Valley regions, communities located along the U.S.-Mexico border. López, an Imperial Valley native, considers La Frontera as magical, worthy of Macondo-like comparisons, where contradictions are firmly rooted and ironies play out on a daily basis. These poems synthesize López’s knowledge of modern and contemporary literature with a border-child vernacular sensibility to produce a work that illustrates the ongoing geographical and literary historical clash of cultures.
With humor and lyrical intensity, López addresses familial relationships, immigration, substance abuse, violence, and, most importantly, the affirmation of life. In the poem titled “Psalm,” the speaker experiences a deep yearning to relearn his family’s Spanish tongue, a language lost somewhere in the twelve-mile stretch between his family’s home, his school, and the border. The poem “1984” borrows the prose-poetics of Joe Brainard, who was known for his collage and assemblage work of the 1960s and 1970s, to describe the poet’s bicultural upbringing in the mid-1980s. Many of the poems in The Yearning Feed use a variety of media, techniques, and cultural signifiers to create a hybrid visual language that melds “high” art with “low.” The poems in The Yearning Feed establish López as a singular and revelatory voice in American poetry, one who challenges popular perceptions of the border region and uses the unique elements of the rich border experience to inform and guide his aesthetics.
“Manuel Paul López’s The Yearning Feed evokes the rich, beautiful, and bizarre geocultural (and psychological) tapestry that is the California Imperial Valley. Like some enchanted reincarnation of Dante Alighieri (or Virgil!), he guides his reader through the hot, sandy expanses right at the heart of the Americas. The frontier dividing and defining the United States and Mexico reaches new heights in the diverse poetic and prose portraits found in this remarkable new collection of works.” —*William Anthony Nericcio,* author of Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the “Mexican” in America
“In this eclectic collection, López brings readers to the edge of their convictions then redraws the borders, leaving us to find our own way back home. He has an uncanny ability to drop dynamic characters into situations where they face universal moral dilemmas. These pieces are inundated with haunting landscapes of dialogue, poignant juxtapositions, deliberate capriciousness, and spontaneous humor that will immigrate into your consciousness.” — Rebecca Schumejda, author of Cadillac Men
“It is enthralling and frightening to live in this book of poems: wisdom is so often derived from experience, and Manuel Paul López ladles out wisdom as if from a bottomless well. . . . Spanning forty-five pages, the poems [in ‘The Desert Series’] are undoubtedly López’s most profound artistic statement on the need for human-to-human relations among all the peoples on the continent of the Americas.” — World Literature Today
Selected for the 2014 University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries