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Mend now my spirit, 0 God, weaver of the / good, that I may walk away from here feeling whole.” The internal rhyme at closure soul / whole moves one from ragged pain to a sense of order that embodies hope. Villanueva’s most recent collection is a chapbook gathering of ten poems driven by the dynamics of memory and a writer’s confrontation with the blank page: Primera Causa / First Cause gests how directly and how consciously Villanueva continues to develop the concerns that have been with him from the early years of his career: “Memoria que no cesa / Memory That Never Ends”; “Imagin6 un papel / I Pictured A Page”; and “Teorfa de la redenci6n / Theory of Redemption:” The Cuban-American novelist and poet Virgil Suarez recently told me, “I read and re-read [Villanueva’s] poems for their simplicity of words, their directness Of message…. [He] sets a courageous example for all of us.” “I’m a human being first,” Villanueva said, responding to a question about how he sees himself. “In terms of nationality, I’m an American, since I was born in the U.S. and have gone through the educational system of this country. I also carry an American passport. In terms of an ethnic label, well, again, I’m an American, but I’m also an American of Mexican descent who along the way has formally learned and taught himself to express himself in both English and Spanish…. In the end, I’m just a writer.” There are complexities of concept and tone in the statement that are akin to the markedly inclusive spirit of his work. A long poem, “At The Holocaust Museum: Washington, D.C.” \(published in Partisan Review lanueva apparently changing the direction of his attention. In reality, though, he is extending in this poem the concerns that have been with him since the beginning of his career: the intense relationship between self and other. His approach is predominantly contemplative, though he is keenly alert to the terrible pain in the other and a burning need for personal responsibility in himself: being as vivid as the self, the other becomes a part of the self. Reginald Gibbons has called this quality of Villanueva’ s consciousness “political compassion.” Looking at his accomplishments from another direction, Martin Espada said that, along with Gary Soto, Villanueva “virtually invented a genre of poetry,” serious literature about farmworkers. “That in itself,” Espada added, “guarantees Tino a place in literary history.” Where then is Villanueva’s work heading? He recently said that after he finished Scene From the Movie GIANT he “began to feel an irresistible attraction toward Penelope, Odysseus’ wife.” What might we expect from that? Who knows? The process of discovery can take a writer many places; but the range of Villanueva’s concern has always been inclusive and read carefully, his work shows that he carries a great tradition with him. James Hoggard’s most recent books are the novel Trotter Ross, Medea In Taos & Other Poems, and the translation of Stolen Verses & Other Poems by Oscar Hahn. e distraigo y me levant. siento otro, ontra el sol. cribo y como el salmista siao escribiendo fin de dar con los verslculos que faltan, con la junta entonacion de lo que importa. Escribo porque escribo y pasan minutos, pasan nubes. Y puesto que ya es tarde, todo va oscureciendo y se empieza a dibujar un cielo constelado. Entretanto, me dejo llevar por la condicion de la memoria primera causa que me nombra que me persuade a escribir sobre lo escrito. Ser y seguir siendo: soy el que solo existe mas si esta escribiendo. to Sometirn get so When I come back and it’s noon on a Thurs I write, and like the psalmist I keep at always searching for that missing yerse, the one with just the right to e I write because I write and time p clouds pass ., And now, with the advent of evening things turn to dusk and stars get drawn out across a darkening sky. I, meantime, trail off into a state of memory first cause to name me to move me to write upon things that are written. To be and to continue to be: a man, making more of life only in writing. Primera Cauca / First Cause MAY 12, 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25