Book Reviews By Emily Pérez
Cruel Futures by Carmen Giménez Smith from the Boston Review
Cruel Futures, Carmen Giménez Smith’s fifth collection of poetry, presents a nimble mind navigating a ruptured world where “Workplace shows tout hypercompetence and workaholism!” and the “strategy is grabbing pussies.” With humor and outrage, Giménez Smith reflects upon capitalist, misogynist, media-obsessed cultural conditions and how this environment molded the “I” in this collection. She investigates the scars that have become armor for “the girl writing / her idyll, staring out the window, the one / who fantasized she’d live in the wealth-porn lifestyle of MTV in the 80s.”
The verging Cities by Natalie Scenters Zapitco From Letras Latinas
Like the not-quite mirror images of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, would-be doubles populate Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s debut collection The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing, 2015). In “A Place to Hide the Body,” a poem that occurs almost at the center of the book, a boy is doubled: his story told directly by the narrator and also by “the film of Southwest culture” she watches in her “ninth-grade history class.” The version from the documentary is familiar to us, for we’ve seen that documentary, too: the boy is migrating illegally, signaled by his clothing—“faded polos and dress shoes two sizes // too big”—and his lack of preparation: “The documentary says he never brings / enough water.” The film casts judgment; as its viewers, so do we.
The Book of Funnels by CHristian Hawkey From Gulf Coast
In Christian Hawkey’s first collection of poetry, The Book of Funnels, forces of nature transport us to an alternate Oz, one where both speaker and reader negotiate heightened landscapes. The funnel is appropriate transport, for it lifts the ordinary objects of the world and blends them in unexpected ways. Though John Ashbery rightly calls the landscape of Hawkey’s work, “an open, undetermined space in which all kinds of crazy mental and physical things are going about their business simultaneously,” Hawkey’s speaker helps the reader manage this overwhelming place, often breaking it into fragments as if it were viewed through the funnel itself.