Trébuchet

Danniel Schoonebeek. Univ. of Georgia, $19.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-8203-4992-3
This second collection from Schoonebeek (American Barricade), a 2015 National Poetry Series winner, finds the poet investigating the implications of capitalism, war, and dissent, both historically, and in a modern context. It’s a searing convergence of political commentary and folk tale; the opening poem suggests that America’s poor “should rear up and throw books of poetry/ through the walls of the White House.” Another poem consists of Internet-search phrases that have gotten Americans placed on government watch lists, hilariously including “who cooks the president’s breakfast.” The antiwar screed “Poem with a Gun to Its Head” works as a controlled plea for mayhem, while “Russets” provides an apt metaphor for poverty: “We hate potatoes History every day it’s potatoes.” Schoonebeek also conjures the fantastical, including sylphs, a man with the voice of “a legendary/ backwoods catcaller,” and a child called “Red Smear.” In “The Dancing Plague,” a woman and her village full of husbands are besieged by “hostiles” and forced to dance to their deaths. Schoonebeek’s collaborations with Osip Mandelstam, Federico García Lorca, and Sergei Yesenin emphasize the relevance of poetry to political conversation. The collection reinforces Schoonebeek’s status as a linguistic talent and dissenter leading a call to arms by example: “The time of writing books that don’t send us to jail is dead.” (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
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