Every Day We Get More Illegal

City Lights. Sept. 2020. 88p. ISBN 9780872868281. pap. $14.95. POETRY
This latest collection from Herrera (Notes on the Assemblage) continues his legacy as poet, performer, and activist after his having served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. With the title echoing Lucille Clifton’s poem “won’t you celebrate with me”—“everyday/ something has tried to kill me/ and has failed”—these poems embody his travels and bear witness to what he has since experienced, carrying even more meaning in light of today’s political climate and social unrest. Many of the poems here read like chants, almost like a Greek chorus, offering a litany of wrongs and rights and prayers for unity. Herrera makes liberal use of anaphora as well as lists, with or without punctuation, all of which propel the poems into a kind of purposeful music. “We will chant our many births/ about the abyss and the aurora/ about the sacred dizziness as we broke/ through all the cries of wars and redemption of being/ —this blurred world,” proclaims the poet. Yet even in these turbulent times he finds hope: “somewhere in there/ there is change—Change-speakers/ Change-churners even in the tiniest things/ —a falling leaf.”
VERDICT A timely and propulsive work; for all collections.
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