The Portable Famine

Rane Arroyo, Author . BkMk at Univ. of Missouri–Kansas City $13.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-886157-53-8

Proudly Puerto Rican and gay, well-traveled in the U.S. and Europe, and devoted to the modernist projects begun by Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane, Arroyo (Home Movies of Narcissus , etc.) makes all those identities and commitments evident in his compact, intelligent and sometimes sexy seventh book. Arroyo directs many poems here at artists and writers, among them Stevens; the Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas (subject of the film Before Night Falls ); and, in the opening lyric, "The Singer Enrique Iglesias as My Muse in These Troubled Times": in Iglesias's song, "Music yields to the yes underneath breath." Arroyo's well-controlled stanzas describe mourning, love and especially travel: New Orleans (before the hurricane); Chicago (where he grew up); Florence, Italy; London; Miami; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Provo, Utah; Palm Springs, Fla.; Reykjavik, Iceland; Ohio (where he teaches) and Puerto Rico offer subjects for solid poems. Arroyo's goals of modernist density and erotic immediacy sometimes get in each other's way. At his best, though, Arroyo (like Timothy Liu) can depict desire, frustration, a high culture heritage and an unwilling distance from that heritage, all in the same few lines: "My body," Arroyo writes, "wants/ to be someone else's history," even as he continues to show his readers his own. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/24/2005
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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