Ciento: 100 100 Word Love Poems, By Lorna Dee Cervantes: A Review

Ciento Front Cover

Ciento: 100 100 Word Love Poems by Lorna Dee Cervantes was published by Wings Press, September 2011. This vibrant new collection from the acclaimed Chicana poet bears testament to her experimental style and far-reaching voice. The collection was born out a writing challenge the poet set for herself: Every week Cervantes would receive a new word from the website “One Word,” and with this she would have to write a 100-word love poem. The image on the front cover is a photograph of the remains of a young man and woman buried in a lover’s embrace c.4,500BC, near Mantua, Italy. This image is as timeless as the collection itself, evoking the longevity of human love. Furthermore, the title, Ciento is a spirited play on the Spanish words, “ciento” meaning “hundred” and “siento” meaning “feel.”

Just a quick scan through the table of contents reveals the range and diversity of Cervantes’s love poems: “100 Words Towards Possibility”, “100 Words to Win You”, “100 Words for My Ass”, “100 Words to Nail You”, “100 Words to the Oddities of You”, “100 Words to Google.” This echoes the experimental style of Cervantes’ acclaimed collection, Drive: The First Quartet (2006) in which the poet experiments with a range of styles and genres from the traditional haiku to free verse and elegy.

The poems in Ciento vary in tone from serious to passionate, from playfully humorous to zestfully erotic and hopelessly romantic. The most mundane and unusual words are transformed in poems that are truly written out of a soul that is awash with love, life and energy. See the video below for a reading of one of the poems by Cervantes In Galaria de la Raza, San Francisco:

Again, Cervantes writes with the zeal, sincerity and focus that is so evident in her previous collections, Emplumada, From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger and Drive: The First Quartet. Ciento is a versatile collection that the reader can indulge at their own pace. Whether it is read from start to finish or from the middle outwards, its luminosity will seduce you again and again. It is a book that calls out (in Cervantes’s words from “100 Words to Content”), “Come. Come content, and contend with me.”

Ciento is available in print, ePub and Kindle. Click on the Wings Press link above for more information.


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This entry was posted by americasstudies on Sunday, August 21st, 2011 at 1:37 pm and is filed under America, books, poetry . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. […] This statement brings many lines of poetry to my mind. The most potent are from a poem by Lorna Dee Cervantes called “Lápiz […]

  2. […] A Review of Ciento: 100 100-Word Love Poems by Lorna Dee Cervantes Lorna Dee Cervantes at the American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco, 26/05/12 […]

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