From Dirt Paths to Golden Streets
Book Review by Dennis Moore
Merle Fischlowitz has compiled a poignant book of poems that are the personal stories of immigration to the United States, from the 19th Century to the early 21st Century, "From Dirt Paths to Golden Streets."
The author has a personal and introspective affinity for these poems of immigrant experiences, as his adopted son, Benjamin, whose artwork is on the cover of this book, is an immigrant of Vietnam.
Typical of the poems in this reflection of America, the "Land of Opportunity," is the following:
THANK YOU NOTES
Darwin was right!
The strong and fit will find a way,
Some marry the American dream;
This golden land receives the gifts
We whose lives are blessed
This poem could speak of immigrants from Haiti, China, Mexico, or Iran. Fischlowitz weaves all their stories in this beautiful tapestry called America.
These poems are often in the voices of New Americans from many different cultures: African, Arab, Hungaraian, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Polish, Russian, and Vietnamese. The poems explore their reasons for immigration as well as the challenges and benefits of becoming American. One such poem is "A Second Tongue," which Fischlowitz so eloquently delivers:
Do I have a second tongue,
When I hear a stranger's speech
Then I hear and know those thoughts
Additionally, "Reach Tomorrow" is based on a true story told to the author by a one-time Vietnamese "boat person" refugee, now a successful businesswoman in north San Diego County.
As five of the author's poems were drawn directly from related San Diego Union-Tribune news articles; "On the Mountain," "Golden Wheat," "At Manzanar," "Port of Entry," and "Somalia in San Diego," Fischlowitz' book seems to cover every human condition and nationality, making this a must read for everyone. These poems and stories tug at your heart strings.
This book is a reminder,that we all are immigrants to these shores, so passionately demonstrated through the poetry of the mind of the author, a book that I highly recommend.
Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors
Guild and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter
for writers. He is also a freelance contributor to the San Diego Union-Tribune
Newspaper. Mr. Moore can be be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.