Resistance Through Poetry

am_rico-paredes

When discussing Paredes’s and Webb’s contentious relationship, it is important to consider more than just the fiction and stories. In this case, Paredes’s poetry – which is more in tune with the emotions and situations Mexican-American’s faced – absolutely must be included. It is not only excellent reading for the soul, but sheds light on the emotional experiences faced by those on the border labeled as ‘others’.

Leticia M. Garza-Falcon’s fifth chapter of her novel Gente Descente, focuses on the literature of Americo Paredes, a Mexican-American author. While she does highlight the tension-filled relationship of Paredes and Walter Prescott Webb, Garza-Falcon mainly highlights the former’s literature as “an opportunity to present a history of a people’s struggles” (160). Most importantly to Garza-Falcon, “Parades was creating a narrative in both his poetry and fiction that specifically became a direct response to… rhetoric of dominance” (156). Garza-Falcon’s specific analysis of Paredes poetry is important to highlight as it is not only the poetry of ‘resistance’ but poetry that provides a critical viewpoint of Mexican-American sentiment.

While Garza-Falcon describes one poem of Paredes as a “another ‘story’ of displacement where the destiny speaks to the person created by this new situation”, it is applicable to many poems in Paredes’ poems. Specifically, as it applies to Mexican-Americans that experienced life in the early 1900s. Paredes describes how his experiences as both a Mexican and an American on the border led him to question not only his identity, but his class, and masculinity. In his poem “Rose Petals” in the book Between Two Worlds -Paredes discusses how the male subject/narrator of the poem is undeserving of a woman’s love. The narrator expects too much from himself and self-deprecates when he realizes how the female is made out as only the object by his desire. The narrator describes how love “[makes] some men as lecherous as beasts…” and how the narrator himself is “…just as greedy and as [he is] lewd” (Paredes 32 – 34). Through his, Paredes displays how is aware of the culture of masculinity that he grew up in and how it still effects himself.

Although Garza-Falcon does not discuss the nature of gender in Paredes’ poetry, she focuses on Paredes poem “Alma Pocha”. This particular poem discusses the violence experienced by a man who “is a stranger in his own land” and “the defeated soul of [a] Mexicano who has suffered defending the toils of his people” (Paredes 165). This may be read as a metaphor for the emotions Paredes felt in terms of identifying with a Mexican-American, and what he felt when he saw the injustices faced by people on the border. This particular poem shows yet again the experience of the ‘others’ that Webb ignores and intentional leaves out of his “historical narratives”. Where Webb ignored and failed to include the experience of the Mexican-American people, Paredes tirelessly described and wrote their stories.

When discussing Paredes’s and Webb’s contentious relationship, it is important to consider more than just the fiction and stories. In this case, Paredes’s poetry – which is more in tune with the emotions and situations Mexican-American’s faced – absolutely must be included. It is not only excellent reading for the soul, but sheds light on the emotional experiences faced by those on the border labeled as ‘others’.

Citations

Garza-Falcón, Leticia M. “Walter Prescott Webb’s “The Great Plains” and “The Texas Rangers” Dissolution of History in Narrative.” Gente Decente: A Borderlands Response to the Rhetoric of Dominance. 1st ed. Austin: U of Texas, 1998. 36-73. Print.

Paredes, Américo. Between Two Worlds. Houston, TX: Arte Publico, 1991. Print.

 

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