cover image Every Day We Get More Illegal

Every Day We Get More Illegal

Juan Felipe Herrera. City Lights, $14.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-87286-828-1

The timely, urgent book from Herrera (Notes on the Assemblage) pays homage to the “migrant children,” “immigrant children,” those “who died in custody,” and those “separated on the road north,” highlighting societal issues while exploring the nuances of how silence operates within a larger political discourse. A variety of forms ranging from prose poems to lyric fragments work in service of social justice, as Herrera questions the willful refusal to listen to those ostracized by a dominant culture. In “Border Fever 105.7 degrees,” he writes: “why do you cry/ those are not screams you hear across this cage/ it is a symphony—the border guard says.” Herrera’s use of white space within the poetic line evokes the fragmentation of the individual voice within this “symphony” of injustice and suffering. Elsewhere, the importance of paying witness through writing becomes evident: “Leap/ every human being in the village is an ever-opening story/ yes you must write about each one—it is the bravest gesture/ you must.” Herrera’s formal versatility lends subtlety and nuance to essential political considerations. (Sept.)