Sightseer in This Killing City

Penguin. (Poets). Jun. 2019. 112p. ISBN 9780143133841. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9780525505648. POETRY
In this new collection from Anisfield-Wolf Award winner Gloria (Hoodlum Birds), a felicitous poem that mostly reminds us what we should not be—that is, too rigidly defined—ends resoundingly by declaring “Be the sound in your locomotive soul.” It’s a great line summing up a book defined by movement, as seen explicitly in “Zones of Contact,” whose supertramping speaker, infused with the melancholy longing entailed by the Portuguese word saudude, declares that “to inhabit the present is to revisit a work of art” and journeys toward a grand moment of arrival in Europe. But not for long; as a speaker elsewhere says, “Call me Mr. Gone,” and propulsion defines these poems as much as it does the jazz Gloria references throughout. But this is not an argument for escape; Gloria firmly faces the political moment in the angry, thrumming “The War on Drugs,” the unsettling and slightly surreal “Thirteen Dreams and One Duterte” (“Duterte is a verb as in ‘to be Duterted’ or/ to be body-bagged”), and the caustic “Implicit Body” (“Hand me your gun, America,/ and let my body be the soundtrack/ to the spectacle of our recent events.”)
VERDICT Filipino American poet Gloria ably articulates contemporary crisis on both sides of the Pacific, using fluid language to remind us that we must move forward.
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