Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
Although a compelling and award-winning voice in contemporary American literature, the work of Frank Xavier Gaspar (1946-) has not received the attention it deserves. Apart from an article by Alice R. Clemente,(1) to my knowledge, there are no other scholarly publications touching upon his writings, all of which published in the course of the last seventeen years. While his work appeals to all audiences in the United States of America and even abroad -- Portugal in particular -- his poems dealing with issues related to his ancestral culture and ethnic background are the ones which have sparked the attention of Portuguese Americans. Prompted by Clemente's pioneer article on Gaspar's poetry and prose, in this essay my goal is to touch upon quintessentially Portuguese American issues left unaddressed in her piece. Furthermore, while I view Gaspar as a native-born American writer who resists ethnic tags, his Portuguese American background provided him with relevant materials and -- to a certain extent -- the impulse for writing. This is evident in his first volume of poems, The Holyoke (1988), where "ethnic signs"(2) loom more forcefully compared to his most recent work, Night of a Thousand Blossoms (2004). Although it is possible to detect traces of his ethnic background in all of his published works, in The Holyoke and Leaving Pico, however, these certainly strike the reader in a more forceful manner than in his other three titles.
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