Father’s Day

Copper Canyon. Sept. 2019. 96p. ISBN 9781556595783. pap. $17. POETRY
In frank, unadorned language that pours stream of consciousness–like down the page, suggesting urgency and unbounded emotion, William Carlos Williams Award winner Zapruder (e.g., Sun Bear) offers a moving mediation on fatherhood. He addresses his relationship with his son, who is on the autism spectrum, while also discussing his own fraught relationship with his father and fathers in a brave new world (“we are the first/ new fathers /ours failed/ where we cannot”). As he states in an afterword, his son’s diagnosis made him “painfully aware that despite my own superficial iconoclasm and rejection of typical paths for my social class, I was deeply invested in traditional markers of success and conformity.” That assessment comes through forthrightly, as does his acute and repeatedly expressed concern for social justice issues in our chaotic world, only heightened by his son’s experience: “the children sleeping/ alone in some/ detention center/ don’t need/ our brilliant sincerity.” Zapruder ably articulates his struggle—the feeling of being “forgotten in a dark/ closet where exhausted/ shadows argue/ what is sorrow/ cannot become joy,/ but I am here/ from the future/ to tell you/ you are not.” And he also confirms the special beauty his son brings.
VERDICT A profoundly heartfelt and thoughtful book for all readers.
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