Summer continues to swelter on, sending us all scampering inside to savor the sweet sensation of … air conditioning. I couldn’t think of another s word. Either way, while you are waiting for cooler weather, here are some new poetry books to help you pass the time.
Buffalo Girl by Jessica Q. Stark, starts with a warning. Stark aligns being a woman with being Little Red Riding Hood, and society as the Wolf waiting to devour her. But Little Red has much more agency than is realized and holds some dangers of her own. Exploring her mother’s immigration to the U.S. from Vietnam, Stark shows the racism faced by a family just trying to exist, the worst coming from the ones who should have been the most understanding. Oscillating between the past and the present, Stark explores her own upbringing as a part Vietnamese woman, and feeling alienated from it. Both women deal with a world that treats women’s bodies as a commodity and find ways to navigate that world. Stark uses her mother’s photography to create collages in the work to create an almost storybook-like effect, and shows that finding a way out may mean having to find a way in.
Auto/Body by Vickie Vertiz is an examination of how the expectations on the bodies we inhabit, the lives we live, and the society around us, can sometimes use a tune-up. Growing up surrounded by car culture, Vertiz seeks to understand the inner workings of her youth. Vertiz explores the mechanisms of colonialism and racial violence perpetuated by society, and how even now colonies do not benefit from colonialism. Vertiz seeks to show how in womanhood, there is a lack of ownership of their own bodies afforded to women. But she also finds joys and pleasure in the body and finds community within the queer culture. Society often tells us what is wrong with our identities and our bodies, but what if we were our own mechanics, would we find the same diagnosis?
Skeletons by Deborah Landau is a fun delve into what hides beneath the flesh. Starting at the beginning of the pandemic, Landau seeks to understand not just the bodies we inhabit, but how they connect to others. She remains impressively upbeat even in the wake of political turmoil and unprecedented public health crisis. Showing the isolation through the lockdown, Landau also shows the inherit loneliness that comes with being alive throughout her series of poems entitled “Skeletons.” Interspersing her “Skeletons” poems, the “Flesh” poems seek to uncover an understanding into our desires and the intimacy we find with others. Diving deep into what defines us, Landau seemingly finds what sustains us when the outside world ceases to make sense.
Enjoy these books and more at A.K. Smiley Public Library, and let’s hope for some cooler weather soon.