cover image Curb


Divya Victor. Nightboat, $16.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-64362-070-1

Victor’s unsettling latest (after Kith) chronicles the violence perpetrated against South Asians by domestic terrorists, government bureaucracy, and other agents of the state. While the poems offer an impressive array of linguistic and historical referents, they locate their political critique of white supremacy in the American suburbs. It is on neighborhood stoops and among garden beds that Victor, in her distinctive documentary poetic style, explores how “a yard is a measure, a curb its end,” emphasizing the risk to nonwhite individuals presumed to be trespassing in white spaces. Sections alternate from lineated poems to prose that is a mix between reportage and memoir. For example, her retelling of the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla concludes: “On that day, I was pregnant & moving into my third trimester.” Victor explains, “All my poems are manifests/ for burials elsewhere,” and some poems even include GPS coordinates, inviting readers to seek out the places that are the impetus behind these mournful and angry reckonings with American violence. This stunning collection challenges readers to reconsider the fragile boundaries people share with one another as well as the reduction of bodies to mere scapegoats. (Apr.)