CINCO PUNTOS PRESS
 
With roots on the U.S./Mexico border, Cinco Puntos publishes great books which make a difference in the way you see the world.
CINCO PUNTOS PRESS
childrens books
young adult books
poetry books
fiction books
non-fiction books
graphic novels
first concepts
featured titles

about us
customer service

social
Teacher's Resources
View & Print our Bilingual Catalog
View & Print our YA Catalog

<< Back to Vatos

Vatos

Foreword Magazine
"Historically, I knew women had been ignored and erased. But I suddenly realized that, outside the historical record, the men were also ignored and erased. The modern Xicano/Mexicano/ Latino man was invisible."

This strong belief that someone had to speak out, be a voice for all these fathers, uncles, and brothers, drove Urrea to create the Hymn to Vatos; vatos who will never be in a poem. Chiefly of Los Angeles, California and Tucson, Arizona, these vatos, the dudes/guys, are represented through the words of this litany. Well outside the usual style of what is considered mainstream contemporary poetry, Urrea draws strongly upon the repetition of oral tradition and in his own words, the poem is like the chanting of "100 grandmothers praying to Guadalupe." The more distant indigenous roots of the Americas are also evident.

The rhythm Urrea produces flows along the pages under an arresting collection of photographs taken by Galvez over the past thirty years. Each photo is captioned and dated, and a helpful and informative index is provided at the end of the poem and photos. The index section, entitled Photo Captions, takes the thoughts provoked by the poetry and photography to a more complex level. In reading the caption of an already striking photo entitled "Don Marcos Romero, 1978," the flat black eyes of an almost unbelievably old man suddenly harden into the challenging focus of a man who has seen more than most people, and knows it. He gazes out from under his straw ranchero hat, a Mexican flag draped behind a portrait of the crucifixion that hangs on the wall of his Tucson home. He sits on the iron-framed bed for his portrait. "Don Marcos Romero, AKA El Charro Negro. He rode with Pancho Villa."

In other photos, readers see first communions, car-hopping competitions, Pachuco gangsters dressed to the nines, war veterans, farm workers, tattooed vatos in public parks, and vatos double-clutching Budweiser cans. A grandfather holds onto his small grandchild as if he is holding on for his life. In fact he is, holding onto his very life itself. In "Altar Boys 1986," a boy with a divine expression seems to be miles away from the two clowning fellows he stands between. Where he seems celestial and somehow elevated above worldly concerns, in his alb, the other boys appear childish.

Urrea is a novelist, essayist, and poet who resides with his family in Chicago where he teaches. He has received many awards including the American Book Award and the Western States Book Award for Poetry. Galvez is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who has worked with the L.A. Times and other newspapers, in addition to freelance photojournalism.

"All you vatos, you are not forgotten."
Midwest Book Review
Vatos is a joining of the photographs by Jose Galvez and the poetry of Luis Alberto Urrea. The word "vatos" is Chicano street slang for "dude, guy, pal, or brother". The poem comprising the text is Urrea's "Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never Be in a Poem", and is an evocation of Chicano manhood and a shining spotlight on Chicano men who are typically ignored or misrepresented by the surrounding culture, from migrant workers and barrio homeboys to blue-collar husbands and social activists. Jose Galvez's memorable, black-and-white photographs throughout Vatos bring its reverberant poetry to life, creating a unique visual and cognitive experience. Highly recommended.
Dallas Morning News
Vatos is a collaboration between Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer José Galvez and Poet Luis Alberto Urrea. Vatos, “street slang for dude, guy, pal, brother,” is taken from the title of the books’ single poem, “Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never Be in a Poem.” Despite its prediction, the poem celebrates vatos in every line, ending with the affirmation (and promise), “All you vatos, you are not forgotten.” Mr. Galvez’s 65 black-and-white photographs remind us that there is no single “Hispanic experience,” that Hispanic culture is not monolithic. The rich diversity of these images of life in Los Angles, Tucson and elsewhere combines with Mr. Urrea’s deeply rhythmic litany in a way that is by turns haunting and inspiring.
KLIATT
Vatos is a haunting and powerful tribute to all men of Chicano, Latino, and Hispanic descent. The word "vatos" is street slang for "dude, guy, pal, brother." Urrea recognizes and features Chicano men of all ages and sizes, and in all different situations and states. The cadence and repetition within the poem's stanzas weave softness around even the harshest words, romancing the reader into an appreciation of all facets of the subject, even the ugliness of Agent Orange and prisons. The text is enhanced by Galvez's vivid b/w photos, which capture the hope and heart of his subjects despite their hardships and harsh realities. Spanning several years and several states, the photos unify the Chicago people, punctuating Urrea's point that although they may not be in the spotlight, they will not be forgotten.

KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults.
New Mexico Magazine
This vibrant book, billed as a tribute to Chicano men, began as an unlikely collaboration. Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer José Galvez was dragged by his wife to a reading by Luis Alberto Urrea. Although he had no initial interest in going, he was immediately hooked by the writer’s words. As Urrea read aloud his rhythmic jazzy, “Hymn to All the Vatos Who Have Never Been in a Poem,” Galvez began to see a parade of his own photographs in his mind’s eye.

What began as a chance meeting has turned into a unique and original book. Luis Urrea defines vatos as “street slang for dude, guy, pal, brother… It’s a Chicano term derived from the once-common friendly insult chivato, or goat.” The collection takes us into the hearts and souls of Chicano and Latino men. Indeed, as Edward James Olmos says in his blurb, “to all men everywhere.” Each line of the poem is illustrated with a photograph. Here we find workers sleeping in a tent, a man at his mother’s table, gang members, devoted fathers, musicians, veterans, choir boys, lawyers, Aztec dancers, the homeless, grandfathers and new immigrants. These are ordinary people whose feelings and identities are each unique, noticed, captured, remembered by poem and photograph—“All you vatos, you are not forgotten.”

If a coffee-table book is a glossy volume of images where the text is often ignored, then Vatos is not your standard coffee-table book. The text is as important as the pictures. The subject matter can be disturbing and confronts the reader to think and feel. But if a coffee-table book is one a reader wants out in the open, to pick up and browse for inspiration, to reflect on in a quiet moment, then Vatos fits the bill.
www.imdiversity.com
"Photographer José Galvez and poet, essayist, novelist, Luis Alberto Urrea, have drawn from themselves, from who they are as Mexican Americans and whom they're not now, to bring us a testament of male bonding in Mexican North America, this hybrid culture—indigenous, Hispanic—largely transplanted, that's now being reshuffled by assimilation. In contrast to the whole of Chicano culture which is struggling not to be subsumed by the Anglo order, Galvez and Urrea posit an aspect of that society, the street subculture, that remains unthreatened."

Vatos, a handbook of images and a poem -- "Hymn To Vatos Who Will Never Be In A Poem" -- is a paean to Chicano malehood. Photographer José Galvez and poet, essayist, novelist, Luis Alberto Urrea, have drawn from themselves, from who they are as Mexican Americans and whom they're not now, to bring us a testament of male bonding in Mexican North America, this hybrid culture—indigenous, Hispanic—largely transplanted, that's now being reshuffled by assimilation. In contrast to the whole of Chicano culture which is struggling not to be subsumed by the Anglo order, Galvez and Urrea posit an aspect of that society, the street subculture, that remains unthreatened.

Described by Urrea as "Chicano street slang for dude, guy, pal, brother," the use of vatos approaches the way nigger is parried, intra-hood, amongst African Americans: "They were able to take the sting out of racism by calling themselves a bunch of names assimilated 'good Mexicans' didn't like," he tells us. (Thus, the ownership of slang becomes a sealant of male bonding, as do nicknames. Wino, Jefe, Gordo, and Flaco pepper and insulate "Hymn To Vatos...")

It is a curious exercise for a woman, this reviewer, to visit Vatos and intrude upon men within the inviolable realm of men, "...sleeping in the hillsides", "...down por vida homeboys", "...even the cabrones", where women appear as extensions of this curious bonding without intimacy, as do their mothers and children. We find ourselves on or in their arms, broad-butted, dolled-up, appendages for a Sunday afternoon stroll. Galvez especially has afforded us access to a macho culture (macho as distinct from machismo) that is, not only mythologized, but more salient than that of the embra.

At the same time, the timelessness of the male images shot in black and white, tinged nearly to sepia, still further removed by the sfumatura and the mantra-like lines of the poem, proscribe judgment. Too, there's a certain pathos evoked in us as women when we perceive the vulnerability beneath the bared chest ("Tattoos"), the longing to return to Mother's lap of the junior vatos looking for trouble ("Heading Out"), the father's regret he has so little to give his daughter ("Father and Daughter").

The pages strain at times to partner Galvez's already existing image with Urrea's independently conceived lyric, and sometimes I see the visuals as a public statement, a coming out, that betrays the privacy of Urrea's mantra— "all the vatos sure that no one loves them", "all the vatos never in a poem". Nevertheless, photos and text call me to pour over them, and over again, to peer through a window hole into a previously unpenetrated world.

Vatos were forged by the cities in which they "hang", preen, get busted, and make love. "El Super Chido", "Crying for a Friend", and "Walk on By" are powerful urban images. But, more for me are those of their precursors and rural counterparts, the braceros...
All the vatos sleeping in the hillsides
All the vatos say goodnight forever ("In the Avocado Groves")

...because there is no "goodday" in the avocado groves. The six migrant pickers are framed by the plastic tent under which they live, their tattered work clothes ill-fitting and too weighty for their frames. Their heavy, torn, work boots are as portentous as their grim, young, searching faces that appeal to the camera to memorialize their lot.

"Harvesting Asparagus", out of context as well, is for me the masterpiece of the book. The asparagus picker faces the camera alone, the field behind him a blur of time and place; he is a symbol of all farm workers in his isolation, and by extension, all Chicanos; his form is bent but not stooped, his face resiliently handsome, but universal. This is a Neorealist rendering of a Social Realist icon, a recalling of the idealization of the working man lost since early in the last century.

Galvez's earliest photograph for this book was taken in the late 1960's ("Uncle Geraldo"). It could have been shot today. I'd be curious, as time for all displaced groups in this country accelerates, to reopen my window hole on Vatos in ten years.
- Carol Amoruso, Contributing Writer, 
Book Dragon
Urrea’s hymn is a lulling chant, drawing you into a vast vato world, offering glimpses of solidarity and exclusion, struggle and joy... For all the forgotten Latino men, Urrea rhythmically chants them back into existence. And page by page, with Galvez’s surprising, poignant, revealing photographs, the invisible men appear, ready to be recognized and ultimately remembered.
Luis Alberto Urrea‘s “hymn to vatos who will never be in a poem” provides the lyrical frame onto which Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer José Galvez showcases the everyday challenges and celebrations of the Latino experience. This slightly sepia-ed homage to masculinity-on-the-fringe was a 2002 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association.
“Vatos,” Urrea explains, “– street slang for dude, guy, pal, brother– sprang from the highly stylized language of the Pachucos (los chukotes) in the ’50. It’s a Chicano term derived from the once-common friendly insult chivato, or goat. It had a slightly unacceptable air to it, which the Locos and Weesas of the Chico world enjoyed. They were able to take the sting out of racism by calling themselves a bunch of names assimilated ‘good Mexicans’ didn’t like.”
Here are the vatos: young and old, with their mothers, wives, girlfriends, and daughters, surrounded by their friends and rivals, fleeing and getting caught, working and waiting, singing and praying. Dressed up, dressed down, tattooed, uniformed, riding bikes and cars, the men and their families here are caught forever … never-changing, never wavering, the music always playing, the bodies smoothly swaying, the children forever playing.
Urrea’s hymn is a lulling chant, drawing you into a vast vato world, offering glimpses of solidarity and exclusion, struggle and joy. Each page is a near-wordless story, sometimes warm – “All the vatos and their abuelitos,” with a grandfather safely snuggling his sleeping grandchild in his arms – and sometimes mournful – “All the vatos sure that no one sees them,” sleeping off late night reveries sprawled across the front steps of a closed bar, a “Welcome Home!” sign ironically painted on the bar’s entrance doors.
For all the forgotten Latino men, Urrea rhythmically chants them back into existence. And page by page, with Galvez’s surprising, poignant, revealing photographs, the invisible men appear, ready to be recognized and ultimately remembered.
- May 22, 2011 

books for kids | young adults | poetry | non-fiction | fiction | on sale | featured titles
submissions | about us | customer service | contact us | bilingual books
search | privacy statement | ©2001 - 2017 Cinco Puntos Press
Designed by
Stanton Street 

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.