Xi Gao, Brian Lam, João Nascimento
AP Literature, Malden High School, MA
20 Feb. 2011
Matuk, Farid. Is It the King?. Austin: Effing Press, 2006.
This is Matuk’s first book of poetry.
Matuk, Farid. This Isa Nice Neighborhood. Chicago: Letter Machine Editions, 2010.
This is Matuk’s first full-length collection of poetry.
Bibliography & Poetics
“Authors.” Letter Machine Editions. Web. 8 January 2011.
This is a short biography of Farid Matuk, published on his publisher’s website. The text highlights Matuk as a Peruvian immigrant who arrived in the United States at the age of six who later became a poet who went to author a book of poetry and publish at several magazines and literary journals.
Dale, Smith. “Farid Matuk.” Possum Ego. 9 Sep. 2006. Web. 8 Jan. 2011.
This is a literary analysis of Matuk’s book Is It the King? published on an online blog. The author analyzes Matuk’s work with mostly a sociological lens, and praises the author for the playful art involved with his poems, which is not only used as a vehicle to lead the reader to surrender to his work but also explore with him the meaning of self-definition and otherness, which in many cases can be seen as politically incorrect.
“If Matuk were white, he would be socially shunned, if not burned at the stake for certain imagery. His guiding thesis can be reduced thus: let it all hang out, messy and unpredictable. However, under protection of the social order and our crippling multicultural program of phony expressions performed to prove to our peers that we are culturally aware of the predicaments of officially recognized identities, he explores the meaning of self-definition and action” (Smith par. 3).
“Farid Matuk (Author of Is it the King?).” Goodreads. Web. 8 Jan. 2011.
This is a short biography of Farid Matuk, published on the interactive website Goodreads. The information provided here is identical to Matuk’s biography on his publisher’s website, however, Goodreads provides his birth date: July 18, 1974.
Gordon, Noah Eli. “Poet’s Sampler: Farid Matuk.” Boston Review July/Aug. 2009. Web. 8 Jan. 2011.
This is a critical analysis of Farid Matuk’s poetry published on a literary magazine. Gordon calls Matuk’s poetry appropriately “complex” for its political content, ambiguous in terms of exposing the authors’ view on race, class, immigration, and sexuality, and admirable for being able to situate readers and simultaneously hold them “ethically adrift” (Gordon par. 2).
“Within his poems, one is experientially situated though ethically adrift, unsure of what stance, exactly, the author is espousing...Would that we all had the courage to articulate a position that so embodies the bewilderment inherent in issues of race, class, immigration, and sexuality” (Gordon par. 2)
“This Isa Nice Neighborhood.” Letter Machine Editions. Web. 8 Jan. 2011.
This is a summary of Matuk’s This Isa Nice Neighborhood published at his publisher’s website. It introduced the text as experimental poetry that candidly tackles the complexities of our political, sexual, and social context.
Supplemental Sources for Allusions, References, and Topics in This Isa Nice Neighborhood
Allen, James, and John Lewis. Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America. Santa Fe: Twin Palms, 2005. Amazon.com. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.
The information found here is taken from an online version of the book. Note that it is not the complete version. On page 131 of the online source, there is a photograph showing the Brooks lynching. The photograph show a man brutally lynched on a tree. It shows the man’s head facing down, and mouth widening as the rope suffocated his throat.
Matuk included this photograph as part of his notes to portray his anger and frustration of mob mentality. The photograph exposes the terror and destruction from crime-related activities, delivering the sense of madness that surmount in Texas, especially in small towns that are vulnerable to attack by mobs. This signifies hate and intolerance, which Matuk emphasizes on many of his poems,questioning why humans behave mindlessly without considering the moral constraint of improper behavior.
Als, Hilton. “More harm than good; surviving the N-word and its meanings.” The New Yorker. 77.47 (Feb 11, 2002): 82(7). General OneFile. Gale. Malden High School. 14 Jan. 2011
In this article, Als explains the meaning of the “n” word and the use of it throughout our society, including its usage on Mark Twain’s book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This article starts with an excerpt from the book, a scene when Huck and Jim,a slave, are escaping to the North. The introduction leads to the generic definition of “n” in the racist South. Then the author comments on the use of the word in President Kennedy’s book. “N” originated from the word “nigger,” which meant black in the 1600’s and eventually turned into today’s derogatory form, an insult. The author feels like Kennedy failed to address the use of the word. Kennedy is naive to believe that the n-word could be used in a positive way because it defines characteristics of a person that people do not wish to be defined by.
“Had Till survived his trip to the South, would he have been inclined to call other black men ‘nigger’ as an expression of fraternity? Kennedy, like many black men, believes that the word, used among blacks, does not mean what it means when a racist white uses it. ‘To proclaim oneself a nigger is to identify oneself as real, authentic, uncut, unassimilated, and unassimilable-the opposite, in short, of a Negro, someone whose rejection of nigger is seen as part of an effort to blend into the white mainstream,’ he writes. And there are other public figures who agree with him. ‘Nigga is . . . almost like saying brother,’ the pop star Ludacris tells us in last year's MTV documentary ‘When Hate Goes Pop.’ ‘It's our way of speech. It's the way we talk, it's slang. I don't think it downs anybody.’ In the same documentary, the rapper and producer Ice Cube says, ‘It's a word that we've taken and instead of letting it hurt us, like it used to, we use it’” (Als par. 18).
“I used to think that a Southerner had to be always conscious of niggers. I thought that Northerners would expect him to. When I first came East I kept thinking You've got to remember to think of them as colored people not niggers, and if it hadn't happened that I was thrown with many of them, I'd have wasted a lot of time and trouble before I learned that the best way to take all people, black or white, is to take them for what they think they are, then leave them alone. That was when I realized that a nigger is not a person so much as a form of behavior; a sort of obverse reflection of the white people he lives among” (Als par. 25).
This could help with how language and race are addressed in Matuk's work.
“Angelfood McSpade.” Enotes. Web. 18 Feb. 2011.
Referenced in one of Matuk's poems.
Barrett, Lindon W. Accelerating Possession: Global Futures of Property and Personhood. New York City: Columbia University Press, 2006. Google books. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.
In the essay “Mercantilism, U.S. Federalism, and the Market Within Reason,” Lindon W. Barrett unifies the “key modalities of Western modernity and its forms of personhood – phantasmatic, geopolitical, economic, and racial. . .,” that the “enslavement of African-derived persons is fundamental to the economic and political development of the modern West. Barrett unifies this thesis with historian Colin A. Palmer’s purpose to show “how the commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century was built upon slavery and monopoly, while the Industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century destroyed slavery and monopoly” (Barret, 99). These accounts from historians and economists view about the development of Western civilization:
According to Rodney (1970), “Human suffering was too high to pay for the monetary gain from trade in slaves and from the extension of capitalist production into the New World” (Barret, par. 121).
According to Steele (1998), “Mercantilism originated during the transition from the feudal economy to merchant capitalism and international commerce, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A strong central authority was considered essential to the expansion of markets and it was a mercantilist imperative that the power of the state should be enhanced by accumulation of national wealth” (Barret, par. 486).
According to Appleby (1984), “The eighteenth century two features of the market economy fascinated contemporaries: the reliance upon individual initiative and the absence of authoritarian direction” (Barret, par. 22).
According to Cobban (1969), “As an agency of destruction the theory of nationalism proved one of the most potent that even modern society has known. Empires or states that were not homogeneous in culture and language were undermined within, or assaulted from without” (Barret, par. 249).
Based on these quotes from economists and historians, this information can be used to highlight the changing attitude of the U.S. from different generation. In his poems, Matuk expresses his criticism on the undermining of foreign culture and language, and the predominant influence of culture in America as well as Europe.
Briante, Susan and Farid Matuk. “Susan Briante and Farid Matuk Respond to Marcella Durand’s “Traffic & Weather.” Futurepost. 1 Nov. 2010. Web. 8 Jan. 2011.
This is a literary response written by Matuk and his partner, Susan Briante, to Traffic & Weather by Marcella Durand, published on an online blog that presents responses to Futurepoem books by noted members of the literary community. Matuk and Briante respond to Durand’s work not with orthodox literary analysis, but with memories, reflections, and details of their lives, particularly involving their daughter.
Bui, Phong. Interview with Daniel Joseph Martinez. Daniel Joseph Martinez with Phong Bui. Brooklyn Rail. March 2008. Web. 9 Jan. 2011.
This is an interview with artist Daniel Joseph Martinez published on the website of the magazine Brooklyn Rail. Martinez discusses his childhood in Los Angeles (how the social and political climate of the time eventually became the subject of his work), his life as an artist, his inspirations, travels, and specific works of art. Martinez’s political and world views expressed in this interview illustrate and are echoed in Matuk’s This Isa Nice Neighborhood.
“What came to me, as we discussed earlier, was that there was an urgency to be politically engaged with the crisis that was happening in Los Angeles, in the United States, and in the world, which heightened my sense of social and political awareness. I am highly invested in various aesthetic political paradigms and try to rethink these things in order to apply new tactics and strategies to them. here has to be a new way to understand the political dimensions that confront us, and not end up with binary, polarized discussions that are of no use. A catastrophe of an epic scale will be required for people to think about ethical, moral considerations or responsibilities that we have to one another as human beings” (Bui par. 39).
“You and I benefit, like everyone else, from living in the Empire, and we are complicit in our own way, even though we fight against the institutionalization, capitalization, and free market globalization that is sending this world to its own destruction. I wonder if it would not be better to let us destroy ourselves. The result might give the human species a second chance” (Bui par. 39).
“L.A. in the 1960s was both a politically radical and a politically conservative environment, so in a most bizarre and peculiar way, it embodied a paradox about its own identity. It was constantly in flux, and provided strange phenomena that manifested itself in direct social relations. Growing up in L.A. in a working-class neighborhood and speaking Spanish wasn’t at all uncommon, but the immediate context of life was within a matter of four blocks. On one side were poor Mexicans in Lennox, and on the other side Watts with poor blacks, and the last was Inglewood with poor whites. Needless to say, my initial experience, in terms of understanding a multicultural relationship, was one of segregated environments. Yet they were able to interact as best they could. The subject of race in L.A. has always been one of extreme tensions that occasionally explode right through the surface, below which all sorts of untold, unknown interactions were contained” (Bui par. 43).
Cannon, Lou. President Reagan: the Role of a Lifetime. Google Books. New York City: PublicAffairs, 2000. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.
An account by journalists who covered the Reagan White House. The coalition of disparate but impassioned groups on the right helps us understand the political climate in which Matuk grew up .
Clark, Robin. “Tunnel Rats' Terrorize A Border -- Illegal Immigrants Prove Easy Prey For Castoff Young Thieves.” The Seattle Times. 26 June 1994. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.
This news article discusses the danger of “tunnel rats,” children who inhale soda cans and live in underground sewers. They rob and kill immigrants who are trying to enter the United States through underground passages. The existence of these homeless children is due to lack of shelter and education. The term tunnel rats is used in Matuk’s poem, “Southside Free” and its Spanish translation “Lado sur Libre” is the title of the second section in Matuk’s This Isa Nice Neightborhood.
Ellen. “News Hounds: Mark Fuhrman Freaks Out Over O.J. Simpson.” News Hounds. 17 Nov. 2006. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.
This article reports on the the former detective and Fox News contributor’s response to O.J. Simpson’s upcoming interview. O.J. was found not guilty in court of law and planned on publishing a book on the murder of a wife and friend. Fuhrman made the statement that people like Simpson “will kill somebody and go have some chicken at KFC.” Matuk also used this quote in his poem “I remember voices saying…”
Fletcher, John. “Marquis de Sade: Overview.” Reference Guide to World Literature. Ed. Lesley Henderson. 2nd ed. New York: St. James Press, 1995. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Malden High School. 31 Jan. 2011
Marquis de Sade is a writer based on his writing and style. However he is known for his philosophy that all people are born evil and goodness is calculated. He showed through his work that human beings can create erotic pleasure from making others suffer. Matuk references one of Sade’s quote in the poem, “I remember voices saying ‘voda,’ then the felt of their tents.”
“Focus: Joseph Beuys.” MoMA. Web. 17 Feb. 2011.
This is a general look at Joseph Beuys’s carrer as an artist. Matuk cites him in the email interview as one of his influences.
“Francisco Pizarro Biography.” Biography.com. Web. 17 Jan. 2011.
This is the biography of the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Matuk’s poem “Of Our Porvenir (future, fortune)” makes an allusion to him greeting Atahualpa. Pizarro was with Vasco Núñez de Balboa. when discovered the Pacific Ocean during an expedition in 1513. He traveled to Peru in 1526 and entered the city of Cajamarca and captured and killed the Inca ruler Atahuapla. He went on to found the city of Lima, which is Peru’s capital today.
Ghostmonkeygeneral. “FILM: The Dinah Shore Portal To Hell.” My Eyes Hurt and My Ears Are Broken. 20 Sept. 2005. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.
The video is a collection of clips and interviews not seen on television. It highlights the interview with Richard Pryor who makes jokes while high on coke. In Matuk’s poem, “But Richard will you show me an Ethnics of Freedom,” the author uses some lines from the interview where Pryor tried to make him unavailable to human connection.
Graham, Jorie. “Overlord.” New York City: Harper Collins, 2005. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.
The online summary of Jorie Graham’s work, Overlord, explores mysterious questions about life. In Overlord, Graham’s metaphor on war develops her view about sustaining one’s self amidst difficulties in life. Graham ultimately tackles the question on what it means to be free from oppression.
Matuk used Graham’s probing theme of internal conflicts to emphasized upon his own struggle in life. Matuk is saying that as humans, internal struggle from the mind is a conflict of freedom from oppression. In his poems, Matuk visualizes his own oppression through his encounter with other people in Texas.
"Heart (novel)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 3 Dec. 2010. Web. 30 Jan. 2011.
This is a summary of the children’s book, Cuore by Edmondo de Amici, which tells the story of a schoolboy. Written in diary form by a boy named Enrico Bottini, the story presents many moral lessons and role models to young children. The book also became popular during the unification of Italy because of its patriotic themes. Marco and Amedio, the two characters used in Matuk’s poem, “Southside Free” is based on Cuore by Edmondo de Amicis.
“Hernán Cortés Biography.” Biography.com. Web. 17 Jan. 2011.
This is the biography of the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Matuk’s poem “Of Our Porvenir (future, fortune)” makes an allusion to Cortés talking to Montezuma. Cortés unlawfully sailed to Mexico and took over the natives’ lands in brutal fashion, capturing Montezuma II and raiding the Aztec capital. He left the city due to Spanish prosecution for his unlawful departure from the country, and when he returned his troops were driven out of the capital due to a rebellion. Eventually he defeated the Aztec Empire, and spent the later years of his life trying to achieve recognition for his achievements in Spain.
Hillman, Brenda. Death Tractates. Hanover, NH: University of New England, 1992.
In this book, there is a poem is called “Much Hurrying” by Brenda Hillman. Farid Matuk uses the line “though the edge” in his poem “Southside Free.”
“Jeannie Simms - Bio.” Jeannie Simms. Web. 8 Jan. 2011.
This is the biography of the artist Jeannie Simms published on her official website. The biography states that she is a visual artist who deals with biography, speech, and historical legacy, with a goal to “explore the interconnections between subjectivity, language, environment and representation” (“Jeannie Simms - Bio” par. 1).
“Karzai Brothers Drug Kings of Opium Trade Financing Terrorists.” Politicol News. 28 Oct. 2009. Web. 14 Jan. 2011.
This newspaper article revealed that President Karzai of Afghanistan and his brother are linked to the opium trade in their country. Money from the US has been used to support Afghanistan but it is now known that it has been used to support the opium trade. US cannot stop the trade of opium because Afghanistan economy depends on it. The article ends with the topic of corruption both in Afghanistan and the US for supporting illegal drug trade. President Karzai and the use of opium is used in the poem “Hollywood” by Farid Matuk.
Kastner, Jeffrey. “Daniel Joseph Martinez - 2008 WHITNEY BIENNIAL.” Whitney Museum of American Art. Web. 9 Jan. 2011.
This is a page on the Whitney Museum of American Art website in which a small biography of the artist Daniel Joseph Martinez can be found. Martinez was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1957 and still resides in the city. His work is famous for its political charge and social commentary. He uses a wide range of media to produce his art, including text, image, sculpture, video, and performance. His work is featured extensively throughout and on the cover of Matuk’s This Isa Nice Neighborhood which shares many thematic elements—among them issues of individual and collective identities, race, immigration, and sexuality—with Martinez’s art.
“Daniel Joseph Martinez continues to create work that unapologetically probes uncomfortable issues of personal and collective identity, seeking out threadbare spots in the fabric of conventional wisdom” (Kastner par. 1).
“A recent series of animatronic selfportraits— including Call Me Ishmael, The Fully Enlightened Earth Radiates Disaster Triumphant, an installation for the Official United States Pavilion of the 2006 Cairo Biennial in which a robot version of the artist convulsed in a paroxysmal seizure whenever viewers came near—constitutes an elaboration of Martinez’s abiding interest in interrogating both artistic transparency and audience complicity” (Kastner par. 3).
Kirkley, Elizabeth. “Hitler Jugend.” Shoah Education Project. 2003. Web. 14 Jan. 2011.
Hitler Jugend, also known as Hitler Youth, was Hitler’s method of training young men and young for the military. Hitler Jugend was based on blind obedience and brought up young men who were cruel and anti-Semitic. It also provides statistics on regarding its members, leaders, and history. Hitler Jugend is referenced in the poem, “I remember voices saying,‘voda,’ then the felt of their tents” by Matuk.
Knapp, Bettina L. “Huysmans's Against the Grain: The Willed Exile of the Introverted Decadent.” Exile and the Writer: Exoteric and Esoteric Experiences--A Jungian Approach. University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991. 75-92. Rpt. in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Janet Witalec. Vol. 122. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.
In the excerpt, Knapp discusses K.K. Huysman’s anti-hero des Esseintes’s self- imposed exile and inability to love others as a result of a lonely childhood. Des Esseintes entered into exile in hopes of creating his ideal of beauty. The exile was a move for Des Esseintes from reality to fantasy. After being isolated from the rest of the world, he started to develop sexual feelings for the world of materialistic objects. The author analyzes many objects such as the house, books, and rugs that symbolize Des Esseintes’s lack of love towards humans. Des Esseintes was also confused about his sexual identity because he did not know how to love and was never loved. The poem “History as a War of Poses” references Des Esseintes.
“Exile and introversion might have been a salutary way for des Esseintes had he analyzed his acts objectively and assimilated his fantasies consciously. Because they were used exclusively to cultivate his eroticosexual pulsations, to encourage hallucinatory reveries, and to fill the void which was his life, exile and willed introversion endangered his already weakened ego to the point of virtual dismemberment” (Knapp, par. 7).“Lindon Barret, 46.” 4 July 2008. Los Angeles Times. Web. 16 Jan. 2011.
“What does the house signify that des Esseintes chose not only to withdraw into it but to furnish it in keeping with his aesthetic sense? A mother symbol, it represents a containing, protective womb, and it is also tomblike. Like the mother, it is empowered with both positive and negative attributes: if the house is creative, nourishing, and fertilizing, it encourages growth; if it imprisons mind and psyche, it has the power to destroy life, to encourage rot and decay.” (Knapp, par.10)
“As suggestive powers, books encourage him to displace himself via reverie or dream without ever leaving his chair. As a thinking/sensation type, he can experience with ease distant lands, mountains, ports, continually varying sounds, textures, odors, and sights. The libido he concentrates on the book (or any object) is so intense that it leads to its overvaluation. Moreover, his apperception of a volume encourages an introjection of his own inner state: a transfer of an unconscious content onto the object.” (Knapp, par. 14)
Litt, Toby. “How do you view your life? Toby Litt discusses the theme of self-thinking in Joris Karl Huysman’s Against Nature.” Penguin Classics. 2011. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.
This literary analysis discusses the theme of self-thinking in Joris Karl Huysman’s Against Nature.The analysis is based on Des Esseinte’s method of self thinking through comparison of the self with what is known of the selves of others. Des Esseintes’ self consciousness and exercise of self control shows that in order to understand life, it must be categorized into periods of time and experiences. The poem “History as a War of Poses” by Farid Matuk is based on Des Essiente.
“The world-view of des Esseintes is adolescent: contemptuous of the everyday, easily bored, hypersensitive, sulky. As he cries out at one point, like a teenager refusing to go out with their parents: ‘But I just don't enjoy the pleasures other people enjoy! (Litt, par .7)
“Marco.” Isao Takahata. YouTube. 6 Feb 07. Web. 11 Jan 2011.
This YouTube is an old cartoon in Japan about Marco and his monkey companion Amedio leaving home in search of his mother last seen headed for Argentina. Farid Matuk uses these two characters in his poem “Southside Free.”
Marti, Fernando. “The Mission District- A History of Resistance for the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition.” Asian Neighborhood Design. Dec. 2006. Web.10 Jan. 2011.
This article is about the history of the Mission District where the title This Isa Nice Neighborhood originated from. It speaks of the history of the first displacement movement, how a community changed from the first eviction to a community of immigrants. The Mission District shows the effects of immigration on a community, showing not only violence, but the art and culture. The title of Matuk’s book, This Isa Nice Neighborhood, mocks the irony of immigrants being pushed out of the community in order to build the Moscone Center convention in San Francisco, the very place where the art project was suppose to have originated from.
“The first wave of Latinos began arriving in the Mission during World War II, ‘recapturing’ their old turf. Many came from the Rincon Hill area, pushed out by the Bay Bridge construction in the 1930s. Others came from the old Latino neighborhood that had grown up around our Lady of Guadalupe Church in North Beach, pushed out by rising rents, in the same way that many are being pushed out of the Mission today. Other Chicanos, the children of bracer laborers brought in by Federal programs to fill worker shortage during World War II, moved in from the fields of the Southwest and Central California. Many came from Nicaragua and El Salvador, fleeing repression from the dictatorships in their countries. Due to its historic ties to Central America, San Francisco soon became the city with the highest Central American population in the U.S.” (Marti 5)
“The most important of the radical moments in the Mission was the case of Los de la Raza, seven local youth accused of killing a police officer. El Comite para Liberar a los Siete de la Raza, inspired by the Black Panthers, preached self-determination , and formed free food programs and free health clinics in the neighborhoods.” (Marti 6)
“Redevelopment was the most visible tool of Capital’s assault on the working class. In this process, cities would declare certain areas “blighted,” and would target them for destruction, buying up properties by eminent domain, and “redeveloping” them into new neighborhoods. In San Francisco, this meant targeting working class strongholds: the South of Market bastion of unionized longshoremen (the veterans of the ’34 Strike) as well as elderly Filipinos, the Black neighborhood of the Fillmore, and the Latino neighborhood of the Mission.” (Marti 7)
“The Mission’s people and culture was slowly being eroded and in some cases, literally erased, as with the famous Chuy Campusano mural that once graced the Lilly Ann factory building, whitewashed to make way for a dot-com advertisement. In 1999-2000 the Mission had the highest eviction rate in the city, with over 600 recorded Ellis Act evictions in one year- this was not counting the many other kinds of evictions that go unrecorded.” (Marti 8)
Matuk, Farid. “Hollywood.” 23 Apr. 2010. Indiefeed. Web. 8 Jan. 2011.
This is a podcast in which Matuk does a reading of his poem “Hollywood,” provided by Indiefeed. It is fourteen minutes long, the first six minutes is Matuk doing a reading of the poem in a detached, monotone style. The next eight minutes are taken by a speaker who briefly talks about Matuk’s biography and then drifts to unrelated topics.
---. E-mail interview with Xi Gao, Brian Lam, and João Nascimento. 16 Jan. 2011.
In this e-mail, Matuk answers the following questions about his biography and his craft:
1. After doing extensive research on your biography, we are finding little information about your biography. Would you care to share anything you feel is important? For instance, we noticed that you immigrated from Peru when you were a six year-old. We are all immigrants ourselves, and we are very interested in your experience. If you feel like it is at all important to a more in depth understanding of your poems, we would appreciate it if you shared.
2. You seem to tackle identity, as well as social and political issues throughout your poems, i.e. “Talk,” “All Stories Great and Small.” What compels you to write about these issues in poetry, do you see any advantage in using this medium? What is it, in our social behavior, that you find problematic, if at all? And how does that connect with the political?
3. You evoke many different locations in your poems, i.e. “An American in Dallas,” “I remember voices saying, ‘voda,’ then the felt of their tents,” and geography appears to play an important role throughout your poems. What is it about geography, and geographical boundaries, you find important in your life or in poetry?
4. Besides the texts which you reference in the “Notes” section at the end of your book, are there any texts we should consult to better understand where you are coming from politically and artistically?
5. You include several pictures by the artist Daniel Joseph Martinez and a picture by the artist Jeannie Simms in your book. Why supplement your poetry with this form of art? What is the role of other art forms in your poetry?
6. Your poems are packed with historical references, particularly to historical figures that go as far back as the Spanish invasions and as early as Richard Pryor. Are some of these figures influences? Why do you draw so extensively from historical references?
---. E-mail interview with João Nascimento. 10 Feb. 2011.
Murr. “Against Nature" J.K. Huysmans.” The Lectern. 13 Aug. 2006. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.
This blog discusses the book Against Nature by J.K. Huysman and the anti-hero Des Esseintes. The book is believed to have launched Modernism. Des Esseintes, who Farid Matuk uses in his poem, is “weedy aristocratic aesthete with an unlimited budget who retires from the world in order to build his environment of artifice” (Murr, par. 1).
Christison, Kathleen and Bill. "Neoconservatives." If Americans Knew. 13 Dec. 2002. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.
This is an article written by former CIA political analysts Kathleen and Bill Christison, which analyzes the ideological movement of neoconservatives and how it has evolved overtime. This article connects to Matuk in that it serves to provide a range of broad-interpretation in going about tackling politics for the best interest of either the U.S. or individual gain.
N.W.A. “Niggaz 4 Life Lyrics.” PureLYRICS. Priority Records, 1991. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.
These lyrics from N.W.A are obscene, containing explicit and slang language that expresses anger, hate, and frustration. There are many N-Words and many F-words and many MF-words.
Matuk used some of these lyrics in his poems to show the verbal abuse he experienced while residing in Texas. Matuk characterizes the English language as unwelcoming in part because he heard it used in an inappropriate manner. For an immigrant who arrived to the U.S. and learn basic communication skills in English, no person would ever feel so threatened by such verbal exchanges. The improper use of language that immigrants would hear further detach them from the very society they are trying to fit in at the same time.
“. . .Why do I call myself a n-----, you ask me? /I guess it's the way shit has to be / Back when I was young gettin a job was murder / F--- flippin burgers. . .” (N.W.A. Lines 14-17).
Paez, Angel. "PERU: President Admits Corruption Has Tarnished Government." Global Geopolitics Net and Political Economy. 30 July 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
This article discusses of the continuous pattern of corruption in Peruvian government. Although President Alan Garcias has admitted that corruption is a large problem in Peru, he has not taken action in punishing those involved. Then the articles includes corruption cases that Garcias and his cabinet were involved in. Growing up in Peru, Matuk lived in a corrupt government where money solved most problems.
"Peru: Fujimori sentenced to 6 years for corruption." America's Intelligence Wire 30 Sept. 2009. General OneFile. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
“Profile photo of Farid Matuk.” 8 Aug. 2007. Goodreads. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.
“Rescuing the tunnel rats: the Mexican border.” The Economist. 1 Feb. 1997: 29. General OneFile. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.
The article speaks of volunteers who have built a shelter to help tunnel rats along the Mexican border. Children who have been abused and abandoned and live in drains below the ground in sewage and garbage that seeps downhill from Mexican to Arizona are known as “Tunnel Rats.” An estimate of 200 made these sewage outlets their home. Not only do they get high from inhaling paint sprays but they also run drugs for cocaine cartels and rob illegal immigrants trying to cross the border. The children are left abandoned because of parents who don’t have jobs to support them. Volunteers have opened, “Mi Nueva Casa” for children to have a home, a place to learn and food to eat.These children, also known as “Lado sure Libre” inspired a section of Matuk’s poetry book. The idea of abandoned children trying to make means of survival through stealing and selling is seen in many of Matuk’s poems.
“But the bajadores are no less victims of the same dream. Thousands of impoverished agricultural workers ride freight trains, hitch-hike or walk from the interior to border towns such as Nogales in search of work. They have heard that they can earn good money in the American-owned maquiladoras, or assembly plants. In reality they are not equipped for even semi-skilled factory work, and find themselves instead with no job, medical benefits or proper housing. The unemployment rate in Nogales is more than 50%, and 80% of its 270,000 citizens live in wood and cardboard settlements with no services of any kind. In such conditions drink, drugs and desperation often lead to children being abused or abandoned.” (“Rescuing the tunnel rats: the Mexican border,” par. 3).
“Known as bajadores or "tunnel rats", they run drugs for the cocaine cartels, rob unwary passers-by and attack people being sent through the tunnels and across the border by the "coyotes", smugglers of illegal immigrants. In some places you can see abandoned shoes, scraps of clothing and empty wallets and handbags littering the ground-evidence of the moment when immigrants' dreams of a better life in the United States came to an abrupt end.” (“Rescuing the tunnel rats: the Mexican border,” par. 5).
Rex, Hudson A. "Peru - Elites." Country Studies. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1992. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
This article discusses the wealth and elite class of Peru. It starts with a brief introduction on the traditional elites who were mostly Spanish, dominant and wealthy. Their ideas of wealth included servants and opportunities. Then the article discusses the modern elites of Peru. Many modern elites are those who live in the city, Westernized, and often has lost their indigenous culture. Upper class wealth is no longer solely based on wealth, instead it mostly focuses on business, industries, banking, and political opportunities. Matuk's father is considered partly indigenous and European. Ethnicities, culture, and race plays a large role in Peruvian social class. Moreover, Matuk discusses his culture in his poems.
“Richard Pryor Biography.” Biography.com. Web. 17 Jan. 2011.
This is an extended biography of Richard Pryor. This biography speaks of Pryor’s early life with his parents’ struggle to be together and Pryor finding interest in the theaters. After Pryor left the military, he became an entertainer. The biography speaks of his early debuts on television including appearances in On Broadway Tonight and his rise to fame. Pryor’s humor in racial divide and acting led to two Emmy Awards. Pryor’s proves to be a successful American African. However, Pryor’s personal life is filled with broken marriages and substance abuse. The poem “But Richard Will You Show Me an Ethic of Freedom” by Matuk addresses Richard Pryor for his sense of humor and success as an African American. Matuk is inspired by Pryor’s efforts to resist normalcy but Matuk views this sense of success and hatred from the rest of society as lonely.
Romo, David Dorado. “Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez.” El Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 2005. Web. 11 Jan. 2011.
Romo’s presents facts, personal accounts regarding lynching, and executions of Mexicans in and around El Paso, Texas. The 124 deaths occurred between the span of 9 years is a significant number because Texas remains the only state that have so much violence. Although 9 years is long, the re-occurring killing between Mexicans and Whites are devastating to many innocent people living there. There is so much violence there that some observers believe its actually more than 124 deaths. According to Romo (2005):
“One hundred twenty-four individuals of Mexican origin were lynched by mobs in the United States between 1911 and 1920. This figure only includes the documented cases of mob lynchings. It does not include the hangings and murders of Mexicans along the Rio Grande Valley by Texas Rangers during the mid-teens” (Romo par. 64).
“If Mexico objects to Texas [lynchings], the proper thing for Mexico to do under the circumstances is to keep that class of her citizenship on the other side of the border, where they will certainly be safe from Texas mobs” (Romo par. 65).
According to Johnson (2001), “Even observers hesitant to acknowledge Anglo brutality recognize that the death toll was at least three hundred. Some of those who found human remains with skulls marked by execution-style bullet holes in the years to come were sure that the toll had been much, much higher, perhaps five thousand” (Romo par. 64).
Matuk, in one of his poems, re-stated clearly the Mexican lynch in El Paso. His use of specific information in his poems help to convey the atrocity that humans behave at times.
Sampson, Fiona. "Mirror Image." Rev. of Overlord. Jorie Graham. Guardian 25 Feb. 2006. 29 Jan. 2011.
The online review by Fiona Sampson describes in detail about the internal conflicts experience by individuals (especially, those soldiers who are in war). Sampson interprets Graham’s work as a war that convey “mirrors of death and culpability,” which would help individuals understand about being present as human.
Matuk uses what Sampson interprets as “mirrors of death and culpability” to reflect blame for much of his conflicting self and society.
Schulman, Bruce J. The Seventies: the Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2002. Google Books. Web. 13 Feb. 2011.
This book tells a good general history of the 1970s period. Its content connects with Matuk’s life in terms of politics because it reveals how the America became a trouble nation from the Ford and Carter Presidency. These two presidency provided little progress and relief from these accumulating economic and political problems.
Scott, George Riley. A History of Torture. Simsbury: Bracken Books, Nov. 1999. Web. 19 Jan. 2011.
George Riley Scott was the author of A History of Torture. In the book, the author analyzes “the justification of torture in human societies.” Scott approaches torture by looking at the psychology of torture itself, history, and technique.
“Susan Briante.” Ahsahta Press. Web. 17 Jan. 2011.
This is an extended biography of Susan Briante, Matuk’s partner, published on her publisher’s website. She speaks about majoring in journalism and then moving to Mexico City, where she worked as a translator for a publication. After returning to the United States, she became a teacher and poet. She claims that writing poetry is a form of political resistance.
Stieber, Michael. "Migration and the Mantaro Valley: Central Peru." 25 Feb. 2005. Web. 12 Feb. 2011.
This article speaks of the migrations in Mantaro Valley in Peru. The Mantaro Valley region is a series of rural districts that live by traditional Incan culture. However over the years, many people have migrated from these small towns to large cities for new jobs. Over the years, people have tried to maintain their culture, but several changes have occurred in Peruvian society since the moves. The article examines the effects of the migration in Mantaro Valley and criticizes the change. It also examines the social classes in Peru and how indigenous people are viewed differently than those who live in cities. Farid Matuk's father was partly indigenous and Matuk often speaks of the subject race in his poems.
Swarns, Rachel L. “Failed Amnesty Legislation of 1986 Haunts the Current Immigration Bills in Congress.” New York Times 23 May 2006: A20(L). Gale World History In Context. Web. 19 Jan. 2011.
This article speaks on how Congress is making a new bill to grant illegal immigrant legal status but the problems of the 1986 Amnesty Law passed by Reagan still haunts them. In 1986 President Reagan passed the Amnesty in hopes of granting legal status for illegal immigrants, punishing businesses for hiring illegal workers, and securing the border. As the Congress attempts to make a new Amnesty Law, they are doubtful because Reagan’s Amnesty Law failed. Most of the documentations filed were fake. Like the past, most of the documentations filing for legal status would consist of many frauds. However, the government is thinking of new methods to prove that illegal immigrants will pay their taxes and prove legal work status through businesses. Due to Reagan’s Amnesty Law, Matuk was granted legal status in 1986. However in 1995, so many people doubted in Reagan’s choice such as Newt Gingrich that the rights of many legal citizens such as Matuk were almost taken away. Immigration played a significant role in Matuk’s life and influenced many of his work.
“Tunnel Children Irk Border City.(National Desk).” New York Times 27 Mar. 1994. General OneFile. Web. 14 Jan. 2011.
Residents call Mexican kids who emerge from sewage holes to steal and beg as “Tunnel Rats.” They climb through sewage tunnels that connect Mexico to Arizona. Residents in Arizona refuse to allow these kids into America because they are known for stealing. Residents refuse to waste any money on them and offer no sympathy. Kids living in these sewages are also exposed to bacteria from the water that can cause cholera and hepatitis. These tunnel rats call themselves Lado Sur Libre, or “Southside Free” which is also the title of one of Matuk’s poems. In the poem, Matuk mentions these Tunnel Rats stealing and believing in only gold. Throughout the book, Matuk repeats the act of children having a motive to steal such as the poem “Talk” when a young Moroccan boy plays with the trust of others.
“Some of the youngsters live in the 1930's-vintage drainage system, the authorities said. And more children have gone underground since the Border Patrol closed holes in the border fence and increased patrols in recent weeks.
A 17-year-old nicknamed Mochis said he had been living in the tunnels for nine years.” (“Tunnel Children Irk Border City (National Desk),” par. 7).
"If they're not stealing, they're begging from you," said Jeannie Stich, a resident. "And I didn't breed them, so I don't want to feed them." (“Tunnel Children Irk Border City (National Desk),” par. 4)
Whitman, Walt. “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” The Poetry Foundation. 2010. 11 Jan. 2011.
In “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed,” Walt Whitman mourns by describing the aesthetic nature to those people who gave their life away. Whitman emphasizes the attributes of a lilac and how it can be used to honor those who had lost their lives in war. Whitman’s idea of the “tallying song” is how best to do honor to the dead and how he would decorate the tomb. He suggests that he would fill it with portraits of everyday life and everyday men. The poem shows a feeling of disconnection between man and nature.
In Matuk’s poems, he referenced the title “Tallying Song” from Walt Whitman’s poem “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed.”
“. . . Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul . . .” (Whitman Line 188).
“. . . And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul . . .” (Whitman Line 201).
Matuk used Whitman’s idea of a ‘Tallying Song” to emphasize how many deaths occurred from lynching in Texas. Moreover, this adds to his criticisms when the speaker of a poem experiences racial conflict with a white man and woman. Racial inequality, as the author suggests, may contribute to the number of deaths in lynching.
Zhou, Min. "GROWING UP AMERICAN: The Challenge Confronting Immigrant Children and Children of Immigrant." Annual Review of Sociology. Vol. 23. Annual Reviews, 1997. 63-95. Ohio State University Library, 12 Oct. 2005. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.
This article discusses the effects of immigration on second generation immigrant children. It focuses on a better understanding of immigrant children through their adaptational outcomes. The article discusses the the context of immigrant children based on different levels of wealth and their effects on society.