Milkweed. (National Poetry). Aug. 2018. 80p. ISBN 9781571315052. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781571319913. POETRY
All poetry aims to refresh, reframe, even revolutionize language, but in an effort to find a new and better way to discuss the trans experience, Charles goes farther than most: "a tran is a thynge u leeve / wen u scape a streem / the grls putting ther saltie secks inn the aire" proclaims one poem. Elsewhere, "the trans knos / bieng at the hart off it / pumpynge the rowndes / her crop a 1000 holes inn everie grownde." The result sounds like medieval English but feels eerily modern; careful reading will untangle meaning, a task that will exhilarate some and exasperate others. Beyond the lushness, the sexual vividness, the "feemale depositrie room," the hemorage that recurs and rules, the sense of a life freshly and differently lived, there's a keen sense of political rebellion: "r reckage off trees existing tot & securelie / the wharing masckulin economyes."
VERDICT This book will shape the conversation on poetry and can make other collections feel ordinary, but its challenges are best left to serious poetry lovers.
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