My Own True Name
  • The New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age List, 2001
  • Tayshas High School Reading List, Texas Library Association, 2001
  • Finalist, Writers’ League of Texas, 2001

Mango Juice
Eating mangoes
on a stick
is laughing
as gold juice
slides down
your chin
melting manners,
as mangoes slip
through your lips
sweet but biting

is hitting piñatas
blindfolded and spinning
away from the blues
and grays

is tossing
fragile cascarones
on your love's hair,
confetti teasing him
to remove his shoes
his mouth open
and laughing
as you glide
more mango in,
cool rich flesh
of México
music teasing
you to strew
streamers on trees
and cactus

teasing the wind
to stream through
your hair blooming
with confetti
and butterflies

your toes warm
in the sand.

© 2000 Pat Mora
20th anniversary 2020

My Own True Name
Arte Publico Press
Download a hi-res jpeg of the book jacket.

Readers of all ages have long admired Pat Mora's extraordinary literary gifts. Her poems and prose works alike, written for both adults and young readers, have received awards and critical acclaim for their grace, luminosity, and craftsmanship.

In this anthology, Pat Mora has gathered the best of her poems with young-adult readers in mind, and has added to them several new poems published here for the first time. Using the cactus plant as her guiding metaphor for our existence, she presents more than sixty lyrics grouped variously into "Blooms," "Thorns," and "Roots." Each section opens with a line drawing by artist Anthony Accardo, and the whole is prefaced by a brief introduction, "Dear Fellow Writer," in the poet's uniquely warm and informal voice. Much like a blossoming young man or woman, My Own True Name has been fifteen years in the making. And lovers of poetry will find it - like a lovingly tended garden - an eye-opening and delightful place to enjoy and explore.

On November 29, 2012, Pat's poem "Teenagers" from My Own True Name, originally published in Communion, was featured on The Writer's Almanac. Listen here.

Using Reader Response Theory with My Own True Name
Download a pdf about a new teaching strategy using the book. The source is a professional development workshop, The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in High School.

A Note from Pat
I enjoyed selecting poems for teens from my first three poetry collections, Chants, Borders and Communion. I’ve also written some new poems for this book and a letter to young writers. My hope is that young adults who read the book will write their own poems and enjoy the word-play as I do.

Highlighted Reviews
“Interlaced with Mexican phrases and cultural symbols, these powerful selections, representing more than 15 years of work, address bicultural life and the meaning of family...The rich, symbolic imagery, raw emotion, and honesty will appeal to mature teens, and young writers will find inspiration in the warm introduction addressed to ‘Dear Fellow Writer,’ and its challenge to ‘Listen to your inside self, your private voice … explore the wonder of being alive.’”—Booklist

“Mora...has chosen poems with themes that are accessible to, yet challenging for teens, a few of which appear in both English and Spanish. Occasional footnotes explain historical references or Spanish phrases. The introduction encourages young writers, as do the poems themselves. This anthology speaks to a young adult audience, and it should find many readers.”—School Library Journal

“Pat Mora’s new collection of nonrhyming poetry calls on young adults to embrace their identity with passion … Again and again, she compares generations and speaks of differences, of changes. Mora’s goal is to provide confidence for her young readers and to encourage a path of passion and interest without misrepresenting the difficulties they might encounter.”—Austin American Statesman

“Mora gives voice to the soul of the American Southwest … This anthology will enhance unit studies in multicultural issues, American diversity, immigration, and the Mexican-American experience. Using the subtly vivid palette of the desert, Mora applies rich brushstrokes to her canvas to create a Mexican-American reality.”—Linworth Publishing, Inc.

"This collection does know life, flower, and song. It is a collection for young adults to build upon their own voices, right above Pat Mora's bones."—Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy

"In "My Own True Name," Pat Mora investigates the origin of identity through 62 poems, crafted to give the reader a more-than-cursory view of the Mexican-American's status in this country … Mora is careful to illustrate how important language can be. When words are combined with the spirit of the land, the poet reveals the secret of language's power. Because she is a native of the southwestern United States, Mora translates that area into a homeland that rises above borders and nationalities. There is an indomitability accompanying that region, and it gives its people the strength to survive."—"Mi Poema Es Tu Poema: Mora celebrates multiculturalism in multilingual verses," Home News Tribune