What It’s About
Everything. Race, family and identity, language, the loss of a friend, the flight of a drone, the motion of a spinning top. The only thing all these poems have in common is that they’re all brilliant.
Why I Think You’d Like It
If you’re the kind of person who sometimes struggles with poetry, but wants to like it, this is a perfect book for you. Even as he uses all the devices that make poetry, well, poetic, he is careful not to let the reader lose the point. He never mistakes incomprehensibility for brilliance. He is also fun. Even when dwelling on a difficult topic, there will be lines that startle you into smiling at their witty incongruities. If he references older work or academic esoterica, it will either be because that’s what the poem is about, or he will be careful to give enough context for the reader who is less familiar. He will never use them in a way that distances you from a topic you should be able to relate to. I wish I had found him earlier; he would have helped me get from my “wanting to like poetry” stage to my “actually liking poetry” stage much faster.
At the same time, well established literary nerds will be delighted by his wordsmithing. He uses nearly every structure and device under the sun with equal brilliance, and he’s clearly one of us. Whether the goal is beauty or tragedy or irony or humor, he can put his goddamn words together.
The balance between entertaining and thought provoking is splendid, and the craftsmanship is awe inspiring. This went straight to the top of my must-buy list.
Some of the poems are about violence, racism or bullying. One, Abecedarian, talks about (among other things) a teenager pressuring his girlfriend into having oral sex.