Amantes y traiciones (Lovers and Betrayals)

Dago Castro

Publisher: Palibrio Pages: 143 Price: (paperback) $11.95 ISBN: 9781463375454 Reviewed: November, 2014 Author Website: Visit »

In this collection of 150 poems, Cuban-American writer Dago Castro explores themes of love and romance.

His introduction states that the poems are presented chronologically—in the order in which he was inspired by life’s moments—which perhaps explains its lack of narrative cohesion. In largely free verse, Castro muses on love, romance, women, women’s bodies, and his favorite topic: yearning after women who are no longer in his life. Many of the poems consist of listing the clichéd qualities these women possess, such as their “eyes like stars” and “skin like silk.” The poems feature recurring imagery of lips, tongues and mouths; Castro is clearly aiming for sensuality, but falls short with phrases that lack originality.

A few pieces strike a more troublesome note. In “Mujeriego” (“Womanizer”) and “Mujer-machismo” (“Woman-machismo”), he bemoans his own inability to remain faithful, then a few pages later, seemingly without irony, chastises women for falling into the arms of other men. At times, an uncomfortable undertone of misogyny runs through the collection; Women who are placed on a pedestal can be just as quickly denounced as putas (whores) and perras (bitches). The poem “Y no soy maricón” (“And I’m No Fag”), a superficial look at the life of a Cuban-American who enjoys art and theater but is no maricón, is unlikely to win Castro any fans.

Some of the poems appear to be incomplete or half-thought out: The six-line “Buenos Aires,” for example, feels like little more than a Facebook status update. Its inclusion, along with other poems that simply rehash ideas and imagery, seem to be here simply to bulk up the collection.

The poems in this volume begin to blur together after a while, so unvarying is the subject matter, imagery and language used. The collection would benefit from being extensively slimmed down to remove repetitive, unpolished material and focus on achieving quality over quantity.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Fort Myers, Florida
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