My Own True Name Review

my_own_true_nameMy Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults, 1984-1999 by Pat Mora, with line drawings by Anthony Accardo

Arte Público Press, 2000. 978-1558852921

Synopsis: Using the cactus plant as her guiding metaphor for our existence, Pat Mora presents more than sixty new and previously published poems grouped variously into “Blooms”, “Thorns”, and “Roots”, chosen with young adult readers in mind. – from

Why I picked it up: I am always on the hunt for bilingual literature so that I can keep up on my Spanish.

Why I finished it: This collection of poems has many voices that portray the relationships young adults and their parents have with themselves, their peers, their mentors, and their parents. It is about the relationships that Mexican immigrants have with their first generation Mexican-American children, about the fears of losing oneself to one culture or another, about how our perception of ourselves do not match the perceptions of society. While I may not identify with the struggles of being a Mexican-American, I can understand the arguments with parents and grandparents, the desire to be someone else, and the desire to find my own voice in a world that often drowns out individuality in favor of a herd mentality. The collection may seem outdated to more modern readers, but the messages and the voices transcend the years between the book’s publication and now, another wonder of the power of poetry. Poetry still speaks to generation after generation even after the seasons have changed, the years have passed, and the world continues to turn around us.

Other related materials: Chants by Pat Mora; Communion by Pat Mora; Borders by Pat Mora; Adobe Odes by Pat Mora; Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States edited by Lori Marie Carlson; Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States edited by Lori Marie Carlson; Wachale!: Poetry and Prose about Growing Up Latino edited by Ilan Stavans; The Tree is Older Than You Are: A Bilingual Gathering of Poems & Stories from Mexico with Paintings by Mexican Artists selected by Naomi Shihab Nye; Walking on the Boundaries of Change: Poems of Transition by Sara Holbrook; A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems by Janet Wong; American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang; Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie


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