Prado, Holly 1938-
PRADO, Holly 1938-
PERSONAL: Born May 2, 1938, in Lincoln, NE; daughter of Philip (a newspaper circulation manager) and Gladys (a homemaker) Johnson; married Harry Northup (an actor and poet), May 12, 1990; stepchildren: Dylan Northup. Ethnicity: "Anglo." Education: Albion College, B.A., 1960. Politics: Democrat. Religion: "Southern California Jungian." Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, cooking.
CAREER: Poet and author. Secretary, 1960-65; high school English teacher, 1965-73; writer and teacher of writing, 1973—. University of Southern California, teacher in writing program.
MEMBER: Analytical Psychology Club, Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: First prize, Fin de Millennium
L.A. Poetry Award, Los Angeles Poetry Festival and Poets Anonymous, 1999; winner of Sense of Site poetry competition, Writers at Work, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, and Durfee Foundation, 2002.
Feasts, Momentum Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1976.
Nothing Breaks Off at the Edge, photographs by Vicki Brager, New Rivers Press (New York, NY), 1976.
Losses, Laurel Press, 1977.
How the Creative Looks Today, Jesse Press, 1980.
Gardens (novel), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1985.
Specific Mysteries, Cahuenga Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1990.
Esperanza: Poems for Orpheus, Cahuenga Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1998.
Holly Prado: Greatest Hits, 1976-2000, Pudding House Press (Johnstown, OH), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including Exquisite Corpse,Denver Quarterly, Kenyon Review, and Colorado Review.
ADAPTATIONS: Prado's work has been recorded on the spoken-word album Word Rituals, New Alliance Records, 1993.
SIDELIGHTS: In her collection titled Esperanza: Poems for Orpheus, Holly Prado uses the metaphor of Orpheus to illustrate the nature of creative inspiration. Prado also, according to Women's Review of Books contributor Alison Townsend, shows how mythology is a part of our everyday life. She starts by describing the mythic character of Orpheus in her introduction. Orpheus's music enchanted people, animals, and gods alike. Even trees uprooted themselves in ecstasy. As Prado notes in her introduction to Esperanza, "Orpheus becomes the background for all inspiration and represents a personal union with the divine."
In Townsend's opinion, Prado has also become one with the divine or a spiritual force in the creation of these poems. The reviewer noted that Prado has the capacity in her writing to unite the tangible and the spiritual, using the backdrop of everyday life. For example, in Prado's poems angels experience creative blocks. In another poem Orpheus sits amongst cars in a traffic jam. Prado takes the Orpheus analogy one step further: Orpheus was torn apart at his death. The poet must give of herself/himself in a similar way during the act of creation. To illustrate this idea in a poem titled "We Move Our Food Outdoors," Prado says "this is what gods want; their / sparks on flesh. creation as unfinished product." According to Townsend, Prado recognizes that, since spirituality is such a part of creation, no poet or artist ever entirely owns his or her creation. In another poem Prado speaks of returning poetry to its source and acknowledges the "greater-than-ordinary energy" required to create original works.
Townsend called Prado a Los Angeles literary legend who deserves a wider readership. The collection, in Townsend's opinion, captures the everyday details and the mysteriousness and spirituality that are an inherent part of creativity. Reviewer Robert Peters, in the Chicago Review, also gave the volume a positive review, commenting, "Many of the poems in Esperanza rank with the most ambitious poems on personal visions published today. . . . Prado has fashioned a most memorable verse suite, an impressive advance over her earlier fine collections." That reviewer found Prado to be "primarily an elegiac poet whose flashes of humor palliate the dourness. She is also attentive to psychology, particularly to Jungian ideas, without ever turning slick or gimmicky."
Prado's debut novel Gardens is the intergenerational story of three women coping with age-related transitions. Kate is a middle-aged artist with a stop-and-start career. As the novel begins she is working through a creative rut which manifests itself in many red and orange paintings. Her husband is taking up his art again after a twenty-year vacation. Her daughter Sheila hopes to pursue a literary career and is as anxious to get out of the house and start college as Kate is to have her stay. Kate's mother is a poised, business-savvy woman who has just retired as the vice president of a retail clothing line. Gardens received mixed reviews—a Publishers Weekly reviewer found the plot weak, the dialog stunted, and the characters undeveloped. Anna Shapiro of the New York Times Book Review commented similarly and noted that the book and dialog read like a cast of characters that is stoned. However, in an article for the Sewannee Review, Gary Davenport praised the novel, commenting, "writing an unsentimental novel about lives in emotional crisis remains possible. . . . Prado's Gardens is an encouraging debut in this regard, managing a bracingly objective and yet poetic narrative about three Los Angeles women." The reviewer also commented favorably on the book's floral imagery as an embodiment of the passage of time and found that the present-tense narration preserved the novel's objective style. Davenport concluded: "The nature, human and otherwise, to which this prose holds up a mirror is often intensely moving, and it is to . . . Prado's credit that she sees no need to exhort her characters . . . to a degree or kind of feeling that is not inherent in the world she presents. Such a grasp of art and life is unusual in our age of exploitative and recreational emotionalism." Sharon Dirlam of the Los Angeles Times Book Review also praised the novel and wrote that the book is a "gently told story, with a strong sense of place and a respect for human yearnings."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Prado, Holly, Esperanza: Poems for Orpheus, Cahuenga Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1998.
Chicago Review, summer, 1998, Robert Peters, review of Esperanza: Poems for Orpheus.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1985, p. 976.
Library Journal, November 1, 1985, p. 112.
Los Angeles, March, 1987, p. 84.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 24, 1985, Sharon Dirlam, review of Gardens, p. 12.
New York Times Book Review, November 17, 1985, Anna Shapiro, review of Gardens, p. 30.
Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1985, review of Gardens, p. 84.
Sewanee Review, fall, 1986, Gary Davenport, review of Gardens.
Women's Review of Books, July, 1998, Alison Townsend, review of Esperanza, pp. 34-35.