Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Dr. Patricia Gantt
Poets Pat Mora and Gary Soto have long been a presence in anthologies citing their multicultural content, yet their work has not been placed as part of the classroom canon. By leaving their work out of the classroom, we have lost the benefit of their diverse poetry. As the demographics of Utah shift, including works such as Mora and Soto’s becomes more essential for student success. In a close textual analysis of seventeen poems by Mora and Soto we can see that each poet uses a variety of themes to frame their verse. Not only does an overall analysis show the literary value of their work, but a more specific comparison of their work according to theme shows the possible applications for the classroom. I have placed each poem in a group with other poems that share similar themes. Each section can be read on its own or as a part of the entire analysis for easier application.
While each poet has her/his favored style, many of the themes overlap. For example, both writers place an emphasis on the border between life and death. They use several poems to discover various perspectives and their respective relationships to death. On the other hand, Soto frequently uses organized religion as a theme, while Mora uses the land and family as her spiritual connection. In the final section, Cultures, both the Soto and the Mora poems embody their style and cross multiple borders. These are at the end to signify that cultures include all the previous sections, as does the style contained in the final two poems analyzed.
Throughout the analysis, Mora and Soto’s work has shown that people can cross the cultural and linguistic boundaries that divide them, but the process requires skill and patience. Mora’s emphasis on family and determination contrasts Soto’s emphasis of humor and action, but both seem to agree through their poetry that only by attempting to cross these borders can we truly begin to connect people with each other, overcoming generations of prejudice and hate.
For my mother, she listens to all my tales of woe then sweetly reminds me that I can do anything; I just cannot do everything.
Bowden, Amber Christine, "Crossing Borders: Cultural and Linguistic Passages in the Poetry of Pat Mora and Gary Soto" (2011). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 89.
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