Cape Verdean Blues

Shauna Barbosa. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6521-3
In her strong debut, Barbosa delves into how the nuances of identity are formed through intersecting struggles. She characterizes identity as mutable, flexible, and a means to keep the memories that shape a person. Writing of her Cape Verdean upbringing in Boston, Barbosa investigates what it means to be a woman of color and a cultural other: “While I study my aunt makes a few bucks with no English at the Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square. She’s sweeping like it’s a Saturday morning in her Cape Verdean home.” In Barbosa’s poems, the act of remembering can spur self-reflection as well as a political epiphany. In “An Email Recovered from Trash,” Barbosa contends with dating as a black woman: “Can you tell from my name, I’m still in search of a place to stay?” It seems that even when Barbosa wants to momentarily forget about otherness, the outside world serves as a constant reminder. Yet she finds an inner peace, writing “My noise so liberating/ it asks to be no one.” For Barbosa, the memories that are a minefield can also become a haven; those aspects of identity that arise through conflict can serve as a source of exceptional strength. Agent: Jack Jones Literary Arts. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/18/2017
Release date: 03/01/2018
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