Home Movies of Narcissus, by Rane Arroyo
Home Movies of Narcissus.|
University of Arizona Press, 2002.
80 pages, $14.95 (paperback).
Look in the mirror and who do you see? At the end of "Bad Disguises," Rane Arroyo asks:
Am I Quixote on crack?
Someone in a devil's mask
demands my green card. It's a joke
but not for me. When is this home?
Many of the poems in Home Movies of Narcissus, Rane Arroyo's fourth collection, deal with acting, masks, and the taking on of personas, pointing to the author's unease with questions of Identity. The Latino and Midwestern United States cultures mix unsteadily, conflicting and converging with the poet's life as a gay man. Any one of these identities could be used to pigeonhole the author. But where among these many selves is the real Rane Arroyo? "There are mirrors and there are masks, // and there are always masks in the mirror." In "Hungry Ghost: The Ponce de Leon Poems," a series of poems surrounding a request by the spirit of the Spanish conquistador for a memorial in verse, Arroyo shows how the competing demands of history, politics, poetry-as-art, and the present's ever-changing relationship to the past can frustrate even the best intentioned writer's efforts to do justice to a subject.
Arroyo begins "Write What You Know" with the question, "But what do I know?" This moving, often witty and satisfying collection shows that Rane Arroyo knows quite a bit—most particularly how who we truly are is often the sum and uneasy intersection of our various parts, not just the obvious surface roles we may find ourselves asked to play.