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The poems of Gary Soto

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  1. Introduction
  2. The sole purpose of Soto's poetry
  3. The purpose and importance of people
  4. Narrative and description to give items a story
  5. Objects and people with stories behind them
  6. Conclusion

Throughout the three texts, A Fire in My Hands, Neighborhood Odes, and Where Sparrows Work Hard, Gary Soto uses small and normally insignificant items as the focus of many poems in these texts, celebrating them with odes and sharing the stories behind them in narrative poems. He does this in order to show one of his primary audiences, children, that everything and every person in the world has a story that deserves to be heard. He is teaching them that everything and everyone has a purpose, a story, and importance in the world. Similarly, Soto is also teaching his readers that everything can be a subject for good poetry. He proves that poetry does not have to always be about abstract or confusing ideas. By taking everyday objects that most people can relate to, Soto shows that poetry can be a celebration and a storytelling of even the smallest and most insignificant things.

[...] Soto starts the poem talking about the generic features of the library-the ?Quiet Please!? signs, the water fountain, the librarian with ?glasses hanging from her neck?. But then he goes on to talk about how he wishes he could have flown his abuelitos or grandparents out to his home, to show them his library. He begins to talk about the marks that he has made on the library that would make it his territory-the mural he helped paint, the books he read for a read-a-thon, and the globe that he dropped. [...]

[...] Poems such as Widow Perez?, ?Joey the Midget?, Outpatients Selling Bibles in Goshen City? and ?That Girl? are all poems about specific people who have unique stories of their own. For example, from Where Sparrows Work Hard is a long poem of nine sections which each tell a different story about Chuy's quirky and almost freakish behavior. For example, Chuy ?would sit spoon in hand, striking the ants that unraveled from spools of dark holes?. He would ?laugh when they were a stain spreading Chuy also fell for a girl on a can of peas, collected stolen hubcaps, discovered that light bends and write in his journal ?Light is only so strong?. [...]

[...] Widow Perez? tells the story of a widow and her loneliness at the loss of her husband, with her always awaiting, his return in vain. ?Joey the Midget? is a person who is also an eccentric character who understands the plight of the smaller things in life such as ants and sparrows. His story shows that although he is different, he still has feelings and enjoys the same things as other bigger people. ?That Girl? comes from Fire in My Hands and it is a story about a girl who the speaker admired as a child. [...]

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