From Unincorporated Territory [Lukao]

Craig Santos Perez. Omnidawn, $17.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-63243-041-0
This fourth installment in Perez’s “from Unincorporated Territory” series marks an important shift in aesthetic strategy and lyric impulse. The three preceding books—[hacha], [saina], and [guma’]—interrogated America’s colonial legacy and continuing military expansion in Guam using a wide array of appropriated text and formally varied lyrics that intersperse English and Chamorro. Some of those same elements are found here, though these poems are decidedly shorter, less frenetic, more formally conventional, and more narrative-driven. Centered on the birth of his daughter, this collection is first and foremost a family story and creation tale, albeit one in which the details of Guam’s ecological and cultural degradation, American militarism and capitalism, and the diaspora of the Chamorro people and language continue to play an important part: “is this the sound// of our ancestors pulsing/ your taught skin drum \\ // pele dances toward [us]/ \\is our house prepared// for birth \\ the ocean absorbs/ carbon dioxide then acidifies// \\ whales, birds, and fish/ change migration patterns// \\ my mom calls from california,/ talks drought and wildfires // // [neni] will be born in april/ of the hottest year in history.” Perez condenses his overarching sociopolitical concerns, bracketing the story of pregnancy, birth, an uncertain future, and a celebration of new life. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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