IN AN ANGRY SEASON

Lisa D. Chavez, Author . Univ. of Arizona $14.95 (90p) ISBN 978-0-8165-2152-4

The aged and exploited "Geronimo at the World's Fair," a "Young Wife Dreaming" in a Florida cannery, "Allakariallak, who played Nanook in... Nanook of the North" and a series of "white" women from captivity narratives—some resentful, others grateful—speak and are spoken for in Chavez's rawly effective second book, whose verse monologues, narratives and portraits largely portray Native Americans' "century/ of dishonor, suffering and pain." Chávez (Destruction Bay) has done careful historical research, and it lets her give stark details from many scenes of oppression. A set of poems about World's Fairs takes in a man from Dahomey, "bearing regal as a king's," whom the white Americans of 1893 term a cannibal. Later poems, set in the present (and much like short stories), look at the economic and sexual subjugation of working-class women. "He was the one I couldn't resist," one narrator begins, before disclosing that her "bad boy collapsed/ into this ruined man"; a later prose poem decries "desire that shackles me still to a past I must never admit." Some readers may find Chávez's speakers and her portraits lacking in formal invention and nuance or in variety; even when her speakers tell different stories, they do so in the same, direct, narrative forms. Yet the poems' indignation, moral force and historical interest compel careful, engaged reading. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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