The Hunger Wall: Poems

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9780802134783: The Hunger Wall: Poems

In 1992, critically acclaimed poet James Ragan was in Los Angeles when riots exploded across racial and class lines. That same year he was also living in Prague when Czechoslovakia divided into two separate nations, motivated by the principles of "nationalism." This odd coincidence forms the crux of his new, eagerly anticipated book of poetry. The poems in The Hunger Wall, named for a wall near the Prague Castle, take these two cultural sensibilities that seem worlds apart and explore the subtle nuances of their unlikely similarities. In beautifully crafted and metaphorically rich language, Ragan studies what it means to set a "border," whether it be political, racial, or economic. The Hunger Wall examines a continually changing world — a world of shifting cultural identities in which the widening gap between the rich and the poor is dangerously explosive.

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The Hunger Wall which are poems by James Ragan seek the core of feeling in the intertwined personal and political dramas of eastern Europe and southern California.

From Library Journal:

The jacket copy informs readers that Ragan was inadvertently caught in the center of two cultural explosions-Prague when Czechoslovakia revolted against Soviet domination in 1968 and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. There's also a flashback to the Watts riots of the Sixties. Yet the most important elements missing from these poems are energy and immediacy. Pompous and presumptuous, his Prague poems betray a tourist sneering at tourists. The poet lives in Southern California, so we turn to the Los Angeles poems in hopes they'll be more insightful. Instead we find cliches. From a reflection on the Pacific Ocean, "a whale dives up/to branch the shores of memory extinguished in our hearts." These are "selfish" portraits: the poems carry dedications, lives are cryptically described (facilitating recognition by family and friends), then laid on the page like stagnant, uncaptioned pictures. There is no movement, and consequently no emotion. Not recommended.
Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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