From Al-Khemia Poetica, 6-13-13:
"Alden Marin and Enrique Gonzales - Gonzales Avenue poets' The Problem with Oxnard"
by Marie Lecrivain
The Problem with Oxnard, a small (literally) chapbook of poems by Alden Marin and Enrique Gonzales – Gonzales Avenue poets – presents a conundrum of sorts. Google the phrase “the problem with Oxnard,” and in the top three Internet searches is the comment “a small city with big problems.”
Manifestos can come in any form – big, small, bombastic, unassuming. The cover, an image of a strawberry (one of the Ventura County's more popular crops), with an insert of the title, is intriguing in its simplicity. Oxnard packs a punch, with no apologies. The introduction explains, as many people are wont to forget, that Oxnard used to be part of what was once Mexico (or, Azteca, according to the authors). Anyone who has driven up the California Coast, or Route 126, will no doubt remember that the landscape is populated with fruit stands, and, in the warmer part of the year, with migrant workers who harvest the produce. The poets, whose roots go deep into the soil of Oxnard itself, invite the reader to experience the dichotomy that is Oxnard, with their straightforward and 'staccato' verse.
Oxnard contains seven poems, which seems a bit on the skimpy side, however, each little poem captures accurately, and beautifully, the sinister weirdness of living in a place millions obliviously travel through every year. The first poem, “Detour Use Gonzales,” tells the story of life's goals being detoured, by circumstance, class oppression, and diminished expectations. From there, the poems spell out the alienation, and, the discrimination, migrant workers, and their children, have faced/still face in land that once belonged to their ancestors.
The overall tone of the poems in Oxnard are strong, and, infused with the dignity of the migrant workers the authors extol; that's what saves this little gem of a book from the falling into the ponderous whirlpool of angry political poetry.
The Problem With Oxnard successfully documents what most Californians prefer to forget; the sins of history cannot be concealed by the sweet smell of (agricultural/retail) commerce. Poets like Alden and Enrique will always remember, and that is necessary.
Read the full review here: