An Incomplete List of Names

Michael Torres. Beacon, $16 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-8070-4674-6
In this innovative debut, Torres calls upon a wide range of traditional and postmodern forms, including prose and verse hybrids, couplets, lyric strophes, and fragments, unified by a concern with how writers can work within inherited constraints to expand the possibilities within them. “I’m leaving you with this,” Torres warns, “a heap of words. Names layered between/ the stanzas of a poem that ends just before it rains.” His poems are most moving in moments when experimentation and rebellion are met with a startling self-awareness, the lines reading as a reflection on his own craft and relationship to the reader as he contemplates boyhood and cultural assimilation. Many of these poems are remarkable for their dramatic tension, even as they reflect on ambitious questions of language, privilege, and power. He writes: “Thick glass between us, my brother and I each reach/ for a phone receiver. Mom and Dad behind me. His voice/ chipped with static. We have thirty minutes starting/ seven seconds ago.” In this accomplished volume, language can be the “thick glass between us,” impeding connection and understanding, but Torres’s writing offers a vision that is startling and far-reaching. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 10/06/2020
Genre: Poetry
Book - 978-0-8070-4678-4
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