POETRY

Shadowboxing: poems & impersonations

Omnidawn. Oct. 2017. 88p. ISBN 9781632430434. pap. $17.95. POETRY
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In a dazzling display, Rios blends prose poems, dramatic dialogs, and punch-in-the-gut verse to record the life of Chicano adolescent Josefo, not incidentally showing us working-class California along the way. There are "Two Josefos," the hardworking, hard-drinking laborer who wants to make it in the ring—sections are styled as rounds, and Rocky is referenced—and the aspiring poet who can cite Czeslaw Milosz and (presumably) write a line like, "That moon over 24th street just as loud/ as gold shoes in the mud"). Both foul-mouthed and astute, raucous Josefo is a fully realized character as he punches his way toward his multiple dreams.
VERDICT A one-of-a-kind debut; it's easy to imagine both experienced poetry readers and teenage newbies burrowing into this book.

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