The Flayed City

Hari Alluri. Kaya, $16.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-885030-47-4
Alluri (Carving Ashes) paints textual cityscapes that rise above particular locations in his electrifying second collection. In these poems “the city” elevates into a transformative chant, creating something mythical beyond buildings and land. The text itself also transforms; Alluri moves between short stanzas, paragraphs reminiscent of memoir, and beguiling long lines. He measures the stretch between two continents and the complications of immigration, including the cultural expectations to become part of another group: “In the city I just left, I wrapped and wore my lu¯ngi in broad daylight on the regular to show off my scorn for assimilation, inside my flat where it was most rampant.” Alluri interrogates the incongruities between lived experiences and the ways that the present is bound to a past marked by family, memory, and geography. Inside these parameters Alluri locates contingencies of displacement and lineage: “Every generation wishes for itself a better mop.” This is a sharp, intimate collection full of aunties and uncles, tender brotherhoods, street sweepers and street dogs, and a longing marked by time and distance: “Gradual, the petitions of things we cannot find—lightning storms as everyone enjoys, but from afar.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2017
Release date: 03/01/2017
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