poetry analysis

“So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs From Americans” by Jimmy Santiago Baca is a free verse poem. This uses non-rhyming lines that follow the natural rhythms of speech. (Poetry Foundation) Likewise, another poem by Baca, “Main Character,” is also written in free verse, and its themes are similar.

Jimmy Santiago Baca was born in 1952 near Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is of Chicano and Apache descent. He was abandoned by his parents and put in an orphanage. He ran away from the orphanage when he was 13 and began selling drugs. He served five years in prison. He wrote “So Mexicans Are Taking Jobs From Americans” while in prison.

His writing is concerned with social justice and marginalized people. The free verse style reflects his own experience as an outsider to the American Dream.

“Main Character” is also a free verse poem, about the dispossession of Native Americans. During the showing of a Western film, a drunken Indian rose cursing and sobbing and the narrator is left looking for the main character.

In “So Mexicans are Taking jobs From Americans,” the tone goes from playful (“Oh yes? Do they come on horses? with rifles, and say, Ese gringo, gimme your job?”) to brutal (“The rifles I hear sound in the night are white farmers shooting blacks and browns”) to resigned (“What they really say is, let them die, and the children, too”) (owlcation.com)

I responded strongly to this poem. To begin with, as the child of an immigrant and a friend to so many more, I believe that immigrants are a positive force for our country. Also, I have great admiration for Jimmy Santiago Baca and the way he was able to overcome his difficult upbringing and his time in prison, to become completely self-educated, and to reach out to those who are struggling.

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