Natural Takeover of Small Things
The book opens with an image of Fresno as “the inexhaustible nerve/in the twitching leg of a dog/three hours after being smashed/beneath the retread wheel/of a tomato truck en route to/a packing house that was raided/by the feds just days before the harvest.” It ends with “Adios, Fresno,” an astringent farewell to the city: “You can keep your fields,/the sun will follow me./I won’t reconsider./I’ve overstayed my welcome/by three generations.” By then, we have toured the breadth of the San Joaquin Valley, have tasted Fuyu persimmons and lengua, have witnessed a home crumbling to foreclosure, and listened to the last words of a dying campesino. We’re made aware that this is an atmosphere scented by an entirely organic stew—a melding of culture, objects, and forms. This is a place where rubble mirrors the refuse of lives. But garbage is also compost. And if we squint, we can see through the wreckage a few small patches where love could be taking root and hope might actually be sprouting.
“The Natural Takeover of Small Things delivers what many readers of poetry want: vulnerability and imagination; lyricism and intensity.”—Southwestern American Literature
“Hernandez’s second book of poetry proves again his mastery of the provocative image, with the beautiful wreckage of rural California in full view.”—Booklist
“This collection is distinctive in its ability to utilize crisp imagery, lyric, musicality, and narrative to create a collection that flows smoothly and opens the reader to a new window in the Chicano experience.”—Matthew Shenoda, author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone: Poems
“A lyrical invocation of the San Joaquin Valley’s semi-arid landscape, with a loving and deft portrayal of those who grow up, toil, and die within its vast, flat expanses.”—Diana García, author of When Living Was a Labor Camp
“Tim Hernandez’s poems are a rich, rapt, blooming wonder. These songs, sutras, terrific long poems, portraits, visions and anthems are rooted in the soil of California farming towns like Fresno and Salinas. Hernandez has a deep and true sense of the hidden sacred in every gritty bit of life.”—Amy Gerstler, author of Dearest Creature
“What is most prominent in Tim Hernandez’s poetry is how he gorgeously underscores the entwined relationship between the journeys of everyday people, especially the farmworker communities of the San Joaquin Valley, and the land in which they live, love, die, and breathe. His poetry does more than dignify lives; it elevates their joys and sufferings to the artful realm of enchantment, and yet, there is nothing pretentious or hollow about his poems. With an intimate appetite for the fantastical, his tone switches between the reverent and awe-inspired to the comedic and whimsical. I count him as one of the best emergent poets writing today.”—Major Jackson, author of Holding Company: Poems