With his latest collection of poems entitled American Jesus, poet Richard Vargas continues to explore the same themes and concerns from his first book, McLifeathe spectrum of three high and low points in a Chicano manas existence. The poems are candid and, at times, brutally honest. Relationships, sex, politics, religion, and the mundane reality of work are presented in the belief that poetry and art in general can establish a common ground between us while maintaining our individual identity and personal validity. American Jesus veers into a more prevalent political awareness only hinted at in the previous collection. The poet assumes a voice of dissent at a time when popular opinion considers such a stance to be unpatriotic. Vargas had handed out copies of his poems to strangers on the street, tacked them on community bulletin boards, and launched them into the Internet. Many of the anti-war poems in this book were printed and taped to the windows of his apartment, in plain view for his neighbors and anyone else to read. To Vargas, the majority of these people sat still as they appeared to be manipulated by government lies and deception. Seemingly swayed by corporate-owned media, many of them slapped yellow ribbon magnets on the backsides of their SUVs. American Jesus is also a response to Laura Bushas closing the doors to poets (who had been invited to the White House for a celebration of the works of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes) when she realized they would be voicing opposition to President Bushas qShock a Awe' war plans. While some poets often refuse to be political in their work (and thus unwittingly end up making a political statement), Vargas asks, qIf not now, when?q American Jesus is a plea to look within ourselves and find the strength to break through the walls of fear and ignorance which we have allowed to be built around us.Many of the anti-war poems in this book were printed and taped to the windows of his apartment, in plain view for his neighbors and anyone else to read.
|Publisher||:||Tia Chucha Press - 2007|