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Cadences of Time


By Neila Todd

A Review of Collected Poems 1964-1979. Anson Gonzalez. Diego Martin: New Voices.1979. (paperback, 106 poems, 163 pages)

This anthology represents a comprehensive sampling of the author's selection of his works covering the period 1964-1979. It is meant to record his growth to maturity. The one hundred and six poems have been arranged according to his thematic concerns and they give insights to his personal vision, his responses to his craft and his society.

Collected Poems 1964-1979 is a heterogenous work. It can satisfy avowed poetry lovers who will find fulfillment in its poetic resonances. It can provide the elitist literary critics with the opportunity to explore a variety of style, theme and attitude. It appeals, above all, to those who simply wish to review nostalgically the kaleidoscope of event, ideas and attitudes that has shaped sensibilities in this country, the region and contemporary society.

The reader is permitted controlled glimpses into the poet's personal life. His overriding concern however, is bridging the gap between esoteric verse and external society. consequently he avoids narcissism, and analyses instead man's social world, his adaptation to it and his desire to change it. Gonzalez chronicles man's relation to his family, his role in the family and his interaction in the larger society. He examines too the conflicts and tensions between classes, between groups or simply between individuals. Collected Poems 1964-1979 presents poetry synchronous with the frenzy and complexity of today's world. Gonzalez takes the reader through a labyrinth of imagery and metaphor. There is strong evidence of his cosmopolitan literary heritage and religious background,which enriches his work in direct references, allusions or annotations. The poet reviews folkways and mores in poems as Tabiz, Cocoa Dancers, Humming Bird and Cane Ballad. He looks too at nature and its sometimes annihilating effect on man, as in Alma.

Such a mosaic as Collected Poems 1964-1979offers a range of style and form. The poet feels unrestrained to explore the multifariousness that his muse has afforded him. He is equally at ease with the conventional, lyrical stanzaic patterns or the long, loose chant-like lines of primitive verse or the starkness of contemporary poetic prose. His rhythms are derived from the familiar cadences preferred by modernistic poets. In mood he shares the poet's preoccupation with the burden of his craft.

The now trendy, and almost poetic angst creates in him morbidity, cynicism, despondency. He, too, sings the blues. He sees life in terms of a fight, a bitter struggle. human relationships are tinged with uneasiness and the fear of latent exploitation. The bitter mood is carried over to his political utterances. He sees philistinism escalating, being compounded by the refusal to listen to distress signals, hence his frequent auricular imagery.

Collected Poems 1964-1979 deserves attention. As a collector's item it will reward and gratify as a poetic as well as an historical statement of these times. It also affords its readers the opportunity to possess Phase One of Gonzalez' evolution as a poet. In his author's preface he intimates that he is now on the "threshold of the state of purity". This declaration partially absolves him from minor lapses in this collection. His readers, therefore, can await the fulfillment of this promise.

Neila Todd 1980