Father | Genocide

Margo Tamez. Turtle Point, $18 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-93352-704-8
The bracing latest from Tamez (after Raven Eye) movingly explores the genocide of Indigenous American peoples, weaving it into the story of Tamez's father's death, as well as the death of her father's mother when he was a child. Formally, the poems appear in discrete sections, punctuated by vertical lines, as in the book's title. Tamez likens this effect to the penitentiary posts she counts in the book's opening poems. "When I was a girl/ the river wasn't a border," she writes, and the poems enact this push and pull between memory, possibility, and ongoing violence in the "liquid flow" of circular time. While the book is prompted by a cassette recording of Tamez's father speaking, the most complex and lyrical moments emerge when she traces a feminist arc through her family and cultural history: "I am a polity, the lawmaker, my grandmothers are/ the roots of fecund rose and swan lady of the lake." Many of these pages are filled with Tamez's reflections on, and advocacy for, traditions that have survived despite colonialism's most malicious efforts at control: "Live softly on earth./ Have a good system to live softly on earth," she advises. This is a necessary, urgent, and affecting work. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 09/02/2021
Release date: 08/01/2021
Genre: Poetry
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