We Had Our Reasons
Poetry is similar to fiction in that it functions as a narrative. The differences stem from the details, such as the use of language, pacing, the visual format, and so on. We Had Our Reasons by Ricardo Ruiz and other poets is a glimpse into the narrative of Mexican immigrant workers. The book’s publisher, Pulley Press, creates these collections by way of a “poetry pulley,” which is a mechanism used to “reel in the poems made by rural poets […] and then glide these poems into the hands of readers.” This ideology is an inspiring one for the future, where writers are not in competition with each other, vying for a publisher’s attention. Rather, they are united in the uplift and amplification of each other and their stories.
The beauty of this collection is in the everyday. Outside of rhyme schemes and other techniques of poetry, their experience is the heart of the work. The narratives collected and shared take the readers along with the poets from the peril of making the journey to a new country of supposed hope and prosperity along with the side-by-side reflections of life for them now versus life then.
There is a quietness in this work. The common assumption is that the most powerful writing, especially in poetry, is shocking lyricism. But in taking their time and embodying this softness, we are walked into their experience, which makes some of the poems’ reveals all the more devastating: “this is to know poverty / this is why we came.” This collection is collectivist in its printing as well, with poems featured in both English and Spanish as a way of creating communication between folks who may not have otherwise understood each other. The tones shift in a way that mimics life: joys and triumph to fear, weariness and desperation, “I just go to work Every Day. / Every Day. Every Day.”
The imagery is spectacular as well. In a way that is not too adjective heavy, we are taken to sights of coyotes, country roads, and LA. Readers get to know these orchards and fields intimately. This collection is especially genius as to dispel the notion that any one person can speak for the entirety of their community. Rallying these voices shows not only their similarities but also their differences, and the breadth of their individual experiences shines through. With tenderness and care, Ruiz and his community of writers bare their love and truth. With their voices is the beauty of their humanity.
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