Lake Michigan

Univ. of Pittsburgh. Mar. 2018. 88p. ISBN 9780822965220. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780822983316. POETRY
Inspired in part by the reported horrors of Homan Square, Chicago's notorious covert interrogation site, 2016's National Book Award winner for Poetry Borzutzky (The Performance of Becoming Human) continues his literary crusade against the socially destructive consequences of neoliberal capitalism, privatization, and police brutality. He envisions an Orwellian future in which the city's poor and underserved are exiled en masse to a lakeshore concentration camp, suffering torture, humiliation, and death, only to relive those abuses even after dying. Closer to a performance piece than a narrative poem, this collection presents 19 "scenes," sheets of litanic, declarative sentences, most in a collective first-person voice bearing feverish witness to state-sanctioned mayhem, ("The dead boys kept dying and the beach kept swallowing us and they beat us even though we did nothing"), others are plainly accusatory ("The Chicago liberal gives birth to the fascist").
VERDICT While Borzutzky drives home his timely message with relentless, often eloquent fervor, the repetitive imagery and structure of his polemic can be numbing over the long haul. Nevertheless, this work will appeal to readers who appreciate unabashedly activist poetry.
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