Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazon Book Review

Codeswitch: Fires from Mi Corazón by Iris De Anda

Codeswitch: Fires from Mi Corazón by Iris De Anda

In time for National Poetry Month, Iris De Anda just released, “Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazon,” which is her first book of poetry.  Much like a heart/corazon, the book is split into four chambers/sections: Rage; Love; Revolution; and Evolution.  The poems were separated well, as each section provides different emotions.

The first section, Rage, lets you know right away that this poet is coming from the spoken word scene of the poetry world.  Many of these poems are righteous calls to action that rely a lot on rhyme and sound, and there are not many other poetic elements that an avid poetry reader might be looking for.  One exception is the following: a beautifully crafted stanza from the introductory poem, Revolucion, which is packed with imagery, rhyme and alliteration: “Dreamt about my ancestors shouting/ into my veins about the bruises on their souls/ left behind by the assholes in control.”

De Anda can be a playful master of alliteration and sound when she chooses.  Near the end of the poem, Water es Vida, she writes, “like these words/ water will flow/ free forever/ flow forever/ flow free.”  Rhyme, however, is her biggest strength, as she shows repeatedly throughout the book, like in the following two lines from the poem, a girl’s strife: “tattooed spirit and glossy eyes/ pierced skin and deep sighs.”

In the Love section of the book you can find poems like Wanderer and Oh, my warrior that can be best described as “trippy.”

she stole his heart

in one second of intoxicated bliss

revolving around eternal kiss

if i close my eyes

a vision of astounding quest

the planets begin to converse

moments between here & there

tumbling through cracks of wonder

intergalactic space traveler

These last nine lines from Wanderer might leave the reader feeling spaced-out, which to me is the perfect way to describe the feeling of love.  Other highlights in this section include, Epic Story of a Teen, with lines like, “If it hurts to be in love or/ out of love I don’t know,” and Red Leather Heart, a touching homage to the author’s mother: “She stands here still/ weaving our lives with love/ & warming our bellies with masa/ her tears transformed into agua ardiente/ that runs in my veins.”

The poems in the other two sections are similar in style with their heavy reliance on rhyme and not as much imagery as some students of poetry might want.  But to describe the rest of the book as “more of the same” would be a huge disservice this poet’s work and her intentions.  She reminds us of this with the appropriately-titled poem, This is not Just Poetry, which includes the lines, “This is not just poetry/ it is death beckoning us/ thru dark nights/ this is the typist bleeding.”

What the collection lacks in simile and metaphor it makes up for in emotions.  This book is full of them because this poet is full of them, and you can tell they are directly channeled from her heart to her pen.  In his poem, So You Want to Be a Writer, Bukowski says, “Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket…don’t do it.”  Well, these poems do come out like a rocket, and you can tell they’re straight from the corazon.

— By Nikolai García

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One Response to Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazon Book Review

  1. m sedano says:

    Effective work, Nikolai García. You can’t have it all, rhythm and rhyme plus rhetoric and prosody, it seems, or that’s what the poet and form demand? Interesting observation that today’s spoken word world demands calls to action, rhyme, and sound.

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