Cervantes' first collection is an extremely mature book. The poems are lyrical and well crafted; images recur and build upon one another as the book progresses. Personal but never confessional, she holds emotion in check.
Emplumada is Lorna Dee Cervantes’s first book, a collection of poems remarkable for their surface clarity, precision of image, and emotional urgency. Rooted in her Chicana heritage, these poems illuminate the American experience of the last quarter century and, at a time when much of what is merely fashionable in American poetry is recondite and exclusive, Cervantes has the ability to speak to and for a large audience.
A writer of unusual emotional strength, Cervantes uses the material of her own life to write poems that speak to everyone. . . . For an understanding of personal courage, it's a great book. Cervantes' command of her art is exciting, and her ability to draw the reader in is sure. What I wanted to do after finishing Emplumada was to read more work by this author: let this be the beginning of a beautiful career.
A remarkably easy book to read.
No book before Lorna Dee Cervantes' Emplumada has so completely and sharply drawn the East Bay and San Jose, California experience with full justice. No book has so successfully made the Californian urban and rural worlds of unfinished freeways and 'spinached specked shoes' of cannery workers come alive. No book has so carefully elucidated what living as a Chicana in the West means, and how 'an intelligent, well-read person could believe in the war between races.' Emplumada offers a number of troubled and delicated portrait of a woman's world and how that antipatriarchal world has come to have meaning.
A brilliant first collection of poems by this leading Chicana poet. Sensuous and lyrical, she also sings of the heartbreak of injustice.
The strength of Emplumada is the impact of a collection presenting the Chicana and the nature of her coming of age. . . . In Cervantes we have a talented woman who dares to tell us about her struggle to achieve her identity in a world hostile to her attainment of it. . . . The importance of the poems collected in Emplumada is their presentation of the emerging identity of a particular Chicana.
Lorna Dee Cervantes' revelations about herself and her land are as refreshing as the surprise spray of peacock feathers in an open field.
Real feelings -- not merely manufactured effects -- mark the first book of the promising young Chicana poet Lorna Dee Cervantes. She creates many scenes of dramatic intensity, made all the more powerful by her wise use of understatement. . . . [T]he poet allows neither propaganda nor self-pity to mar her well-constructed verses, whose moving core of universal human experience transcends their ethnic origins.
Lorna Dee Cervantes was born in 1954. She is the author of From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger and Emplumada (1981), which won an American Book Award. She is also co-editor of Red Dirt, a cross-cultural poetry journal, and her work has been included in many anthologies including Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Women Poets, and After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties. In 1995 she received a Lila Wallace- Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.