POETRY

Concentrate: Poems

Graywolf Nov. 2022. 96p. ISBN 9781644452103. pap. $17. POETRY
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Winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Taylor’s arresting and powerful debut excavates and commemorates the life of Latasha Harlins, a Black teenager killed by a Korean shop owner following a false accusation of theft—a killing that served as a catalyst for the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles. Taylor’s collection explores, in part, the tension between Asian American and Black communities in the United States, as well as the country’s complex interplay among race, sexual violence, and erasure. The collection also memorializes a young life, foregrounds tremendous care between elders and children (as in the brilliantly moving opening poem, “Arizona?”), and employs an inventive fractured style. “Consider that our ansisters have incredible side eye—the talent of of seeing things they are not directly looking at,” says one poem, and it’s a talent amply on display throughout the book, which utilizes visual and textual collage, time line, historical artifact, and personal story to reassemble an unflinching narrative of honesty, attention, and intimacy.
VERDICT Simply put, one of the best books this reviewer has read in the last 12 months.
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