Still Dirty: Poems 2009–2015

David Lau. Commune (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-934639-18-4
“I had seen the edge of global shipping’s blast radius,” writes Lau in this challenging, erudite, politically conscious, and experimental collection that collects his work since 2009’s Virgil and the Mountain Cat. The book is both hydra and chimera, a polyphonic monster composed of vocal layers culled from international unrest. Though these poems channel something unidentifiably American, Lau unleashes many tongues to decenter this geography and mobilize the reader with an unrelenting urgency. These poems are products of a global crisis and united in revealing how humans have failed one another with social systems built around oppression, dominion, and submission. Lau’s phantasmagoric chorus begins by channeling skater-style slang from L.A. and the uproarious voices of the Occupy movement before moving outward to incorporate cries of protest from those caught up in Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, Mexican cartel violence, ICE raids, and the Iraq occupation, among others. “Morelia Marxista conocido./ An Egyptian dimension/ of the Twitter-scape/ vanquished all amigos,” Lau writes. This frenetic code-switching reflects the anxiety of the world that Lau depicts: one of forced disappearances and demagogic promises of deportation. Lau’s poems are not a single mirror being held up to the reader, but an entire hall of mirrors that one must walk through to experience all of imperialism’s terrifying angles. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2016
Release date: 09/01/2016
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