Flamenco Hips and Red Mud Feet
"Duality" is at the center of Flamenco Hips and Red Mud Feet, a striking collection of poems both intimate and grand. The poet, Dixie Salazar, has spent a lifetime forging her own identity out of two cultures: "On one side was my father's world: Spanish speaking from las montanas. On the other side was my mother's world: a deep Southern drawl wafting from the magnolia and chinaberry trees." As her poems reveal, she is a product of both cultures but not completely at home in either one.
In the two sections of the book--"Inside" and "Outside"--parallelism and symmetry interact with themes both public and private. Flamenco Hips and Red Mud Feet presents thirty-nine poems in free verse and traditional poetic forms, especially the sonnet and adaptations of the sonnet. The sonnet--usually consisting of the octet (eight lines) that sets up the main idea of the poem and the sestet (six lines) that resolves, answers or completes the poem--is a natural form for a poet whose identity is divided. Double sonnets and "double-linked sonnets doubled" reflect the duality the poet feels inside her skin. And the poems written to and for a "lost sister" reinforce the theme.
Throughout this provocative book, Salazar navigates the alienation of her cultural in-between-ness. By the end, she appears to become more comfortable with her status of "outsider," deciding that she doesn't need to give in to pressures to pick a side or to accept others' ideas of where her own "borders" begin or end.
'Dixie works at the tense points of the ordinary and unlocks the extra-ordinary. Here, the city, the shores, the streets, the display windows, the family rooms--and those that inhabit these spaces--are all cast in hard light and raw truths. Yet, she is singing. All comes back to life in this manner, the text seems to say. An incandescent and brave voice for our times.' --Juan Felipe Herrera, author of Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems
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