Images for Radical Politics

Vanessa Jimenez Gabb. Rescue, $16 trade paper (116p) ISBN 978-0-9860869-7-7
Gabb, an educator and co-founder of the journal Five Quarterly, calls for a more revolutionary politics in her trenchant debut collection. In a world rampant with racism, sexism, queerphobia, and economic injustice, she reminds readers that “the conditions are always there/ waiting for you to realize them/ they are a serpent in the still of the night/ coming way before it sinks its teeth/ into your skin.” Gabb addresses the economy, global warming, capitalist educational incentives, and America’s biased justice system. These subjects, among others, allow Gabb to grapple in the poems—both explicitly and in more subtle nuances—with ideas of what constitutes the political: “Everything is political/ A little black dress/ A woman/ Saying no/ Is political.” These subtleties appear at the heart of her best work, a series of imagined workday logs by workers of various colored collars . Here, she elicits empathy for even the most ostensibly privileged laborer by revealing the demented logic that underpins late capitalism. Gabb tinkers with lyric form throughout the collection, and her often staccato rhythms generate a stirring, feverish urgency. Gabb welcomes comrades with her brazen, well-informed, and emotionally cathartic poems: “to think about exploitation and say this/ this is what i think of and want to speak of/ walk with me.” (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2017
Release date: 11/01/2016
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