Copper Canyon. Sept. 2021. 176p. ISBN 9781556596223. pap. $18. POETRY
What if Spaniard Federico García Lorca, Chilean Pablo Neruda, and American Walt Whitman had collaborated in writing a series of poems about their impressions of the United States? The end product might approximate the social consciousness of this aptly titled bilingual collection of poems. Granada-born Valverde (The Insistence of Harm), a member of a younger poetic generation in his homeland and currently teaching at the University of Virginia, visited sites associated with American violence, namely that of lethal firearms. Appalled and repelled by the ubiquity of gun violence, he offers a visceral response that forms the heart of the collection, highlighting eight mass shootings by lone wolves, from the University of Texas tower in 1966 to the First Baptist Church in 2017. Elsewhere, he pairs individuals as subjects: civil rights activists Ruby Bridges and Martin Luther King Jr.; Hernando de Soto and Jeff Buckley, whose corpses were both submerged in the Mississippi River. Translator Forché, an engaged poet in her own right (In the Lateness of the World), faithfully captures with verve these verses that throb and mourn.
VERDICT With subject matter as contemporary as today’s headlines, Valverde shows that poetry has never been more relevant and immediate.
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