Showman & Shaman

by C. Omaña Villanueva

The NGY Review, August 23, 2019

Alberto Ríos grew up on the border between Mexico and the United States, and his poetry is grounded and nurtured in this multicultural childhood experience. This paper examines 11 different poems by Ríos and suggests that his label as a magicorealist is inaccurate. Instead, Ríos uses language in his poetry with themes similar to his fellow Latino writers, but is not chained to any one style or vision. Ríos’s poetry goes beyond the borders or limits of humanity in order to explore our affinity with the cosmos. His vision reaches beyond his own community. And in this way he is both shamonic and magical. The poem “Border Lines” is found to be emblematic of the poet’s intent, which is to state that “The border is what joins us,” and it is “Not what separates us.” Such themes are important today, and Ríos’s poetry should be examined more to give a voice to not only the Latino population but to everyone who shares a border somewhere. The poem, “Madre Sofía,” is the final poem chosen to show Ríos’s mastery of language, rhythm, and imagery. The poem focuses on the truth to reveal the lie, much as prose writers aim to do, showing Ríos’s ability as an artist to transform at will.  

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