Fort Red Border

Kiki Petrosino, Author . Sarabande $14.95 (87p) ISBN 978-1-932511-74-1

The sharp, witty sequences in Petrosino's debut reveal a poet who has more fun with language, and who shows more range, than most. The titular series, whose moniker uses the same letters as “Robert Redford,” describes an imaginary affair with him, highlighting their differences in taste, in status, in race: “ I gather my afro into a plain elastic hoop... Redford's face goes coltish & aware.” Petrosino has more to say about lust and romance and social class than Redford's celebrity. Other series put more pressure on the sounds of words, in the propulsive sentences of her prose poems or in irregularly rhymed short lines: “The field saint in my skin/ who rakes:// I balm. I slake.” Ten poems all called “Valentine” include kiss-offs, come-hithers and advice: “Ordering food/ is really ordering some of the food... But:/ You can't order some of the love.” Drawing on popular culture, invoking sex often and flirting, or trying to shock, Petrosino rings some of the same bells as Frederick Seidel. But she repeats herself a lot less often, and her jokes are her own generation's: “Who would win, Jack White or Jack Black?” Her poems should attract anybody who wants to find out. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/20/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
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