Woman Without Shame: Poems

Knopf. Sept. 2022. 176p. ISBN 9780593534823. $27. POETRY
Nearly three decades have passed since the award-winning Cisneros’s previous collection (Loose Woman), and what a joy to immerse oneself in the richness of those years! From the slow attention given nesting golondrinas (swallows) to a refreshingly bawdy chronicle of a woman’s lovers, these poems sparkle with levity, empathy, sensuality, and sight. An appreciation for the aging self, its evolving body and understanding, threads the work, as do wit and humor. Cisneros’s hilarious riff on Dylan Thomas urges “women who have squash-/ blossomed into soft flesh” to “Rage, rage. Do not go into that good night/ wearing sensible white or beige.” Many poems feature the gently thrilling—and often humorous—turn of the haiku: the loss of hearing in an ear, no reason to lament, because “I only half listen/ Anyhow.” Meditations on aging, death, and injustice nestle amid the poems’ humor, as in the tellingly titled “A Boy with a Machine Gun Waves to Me,” or in the speaker who notices that “Even in a town/ named for an armed angel/ love finds a route.” Rather than avoid pain or suffering, the poems explore their coexistence with wonder and beauty.
VERDICT Woven with perspective, melded by dual languages and countries, attuned to sense and place, this generously alive collection--sin censura ni vergüenza--will delight both devoted fans and those who may not often read poetry.
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