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Monica De La Torre, Author . Switchback $14 (80p) ISBN 978-0-9786172-0-2

Accomplished translator de la Torre (Reversible Monuments ) draws on frame breaking, self-questioning contemporary art and on her Mexican background in this quirky first collection of her own poems in English. Prose and verse poems assemble memorable, quotable fragments, odd details and estranged claims about a partially obscured self: the opening piece hopes "To rip kites so they may stay on the ground.// To forget jokes and misunderstand common sense." Sometimes cerebral, even jokey in her uses of found texts, sometimes neosurrealist in her fluid shifts of scene and referent, de la Torre's whimsies and passions make her clearly hip, yet hard to place: "Thirst is not fear, thirst is not green, but has wings,/ like dragons, or airplanes." Dialogues feature men and women who talk straight past one another; lyrical series decry "over-protective toddlers," "narcissistic dorks," and "myopic brutes," and a series of short poems (scattered through a longer poem, "Texas") comprise fantasias on single letters: "Slowly soften stiff surfaces, study severity." The very quotable prose poem "On Translation" stands out for its insight, not just into how de la Torre recreates Spanish-language poems in English, but into how she composes English verse of her own: "Not to search for meaning, but to reenact a gesture, an intent." (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
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