Invasive species

Nightboat. 2018. 96p. ISBN 9781937658939. pap. $16.95. POETRY
With her first full-length collection, BOMB Magazine Biennal Contest winner Helal gives us a deep look into her search for a homeland—a long and roundabout journey that takes her from Egypt to America—scored with equal measures of pain, ambivalence, and determination. Here are the places and pieces of her story, the voices of the people who aided or slowed her journey—all registered by a wise eye and recorded in a kaleidoscope of forms that include poems, essay, letters, reportage, diary entries, and news clippings. The collection is a moving contrast to daily news coverage of immigration that never rises above partisan politics: "The dilemma of my disorientation is this: sometimes. When I'm driving through the tunnel on Geary Boulevard-under Masonic Avenue-I look at the fluorescent lights overhead and feel sure that I'll find Cairo on the other side. I step hard on the gas like a child who believes she can dig her way to China." Helal cites the "uncertain certainty" of this feeling, which pervades the book.
VERDICT As the book jacket promises, "The result is gorgeous and gutting, rising to its own invocation."
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing