Negro League Baseball

Harmony Holiday. Fence (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-934200-42-1
Chaotic and mesmerizing, with sex, violence, music, history and semantics moving at breakneck speed, Holiday's debut is a rare event: in prose poems and in isolated lines, her long unruly sentences take in a mother's funeral, a tumultuous love affair, Mississippi family roots, Northern branches, and the partly improvised, often confrontational styles of advanced African-American music from be-bop and post-bop to hip-hop and whatever lies beyond. "I do not believe in one polished vortex narrower at the core because I do not believe in anything yet," she says, "or before or future except that displacement has been one revolution meaning I turned around and said your name." That part of one sentence gives Holiday's flavor at her most passionately direct, in one of "these many languages I favor." The New York poet (whose late father was a soul singer) also sports a mode of teenage defiance, giving loud voice to "Us kids, us kids just learned to whistle/ The things we'd know were whistleblown." Hers is an amorous world, full of puns, embracing opportunities, but also one where violence can pop up anywhere, making her "proud of the things I favor, so sore from them." Few poets move so fast; few promise so much so enticingly. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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