LA’s loss was San Benitos gain.
Edward Vidaurre California emigrant, born in East LA grew up there during the height of the L.A Gang Wars. “I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip” is informed and is rooted in the mean streets of Southern California. One third of the book is dedicated to the Chicano experience, also there is a section called Guanato from the neighborhood of his youth in El Salvador, where Edward and his siblings would spend their summer vacations. Ironically in escaping the urban turmoil of L.A. they would find themselves in the midst of El Salvador’s civil war. A war of approximately 75,000 dead, curiously this is the approximate amount as well of the current Mexican-Narco Civil War.
The road trip of life continues in L.A This section is titled “Chicano”. Normally the nomenclature refers to persons of Mexican descent that have live in the United States for some time, however any Latin American can be a “Chicano” if they choose. Some do, some don’t, so what, no le hace, it doesn’t matter to me.
To us readers, what matters is the poetry that bleeds into our minds and hearts. The poet milks his rhyme from joy, and drips his poetry from sorrow. The why and the reason of the barrio, or the ghetto is beyond the reach of this book, but the feeling, the emotion, the ineffable something that is behind and before every tragedy and joy shines through.
The author has a sparse style, peppering the reader with almost prose, then when least expected, lets flow combinations of phrases that hit with knock-out precision. At times in a single line we lose our conscious minds and are transported.
These are the poems written in the world called Texas. A few galaxies removed from Califas. Poems of life, love, hope and despair; of the wounded and the healed, of family and love. Not so much of the barrio and the ghetto and the cholos and such. More on life and living, all that can be touched, and much that can’t.
The combination of caring, emotion, unflinching description of horror and beauty and embrace of life in all it’s contradictions and connections make this a very special collection. Also, “I Took My Barrio On A Road Trip” is a valuable addition to that most un-poetic of terms “Ethnic Studies”. Nonetheless, it conveys the experience of the “gente de la frontera” in a way that I suspect will not be equaled for many years to come.