cover image Public Domain

Public Domain

Monica De La Torre, . . Roof, $13.95 (97pp) ISBN 978-1-931824-30-9

In her hilarious, deeply cynical second book, de la Torre (Talk Shows ) interrogates language public and private, often directly inviting the reader to participate in parsing authenticity from bullshit: “read into a microphone making all p's pop” is the instruction at the top of one “p”-heavy text. Born in Mexico and reared equally on the high and pop-culture of Latin America and the U.S., de la Torre is especially indebted to the Language poets and the New York contemporary art scene (she is the senior editor of Bomb magazine). These six poems and sequences co-opt various kinds of discourse—the list (“Lists are what you write when you're feeling eager”), the sales presentation (“Our patented Emergency Restraint Chair... will restrain a combative or self-destructive person who needs to be interrogated or force fed...”), even e-mail (“believe it or not, my name is also Monica de la Torre”)—to show how these forms are misused or can be recontextualized to make new meaning in an age when language has been deeply debased. All the while, de la Torre's own mischievous voice, interspersed, reminds us that even when cynicism is the only logical response, there are still reasons to believe: “This piece might not seem transformed enough to you, but I intend it to be transformative for me.” (Jan.)