Cruel Fiction

Wendy Trevino. Commune, $16 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-934639-25-2
Trevino powerfully argues that “poetry is not enough” in a sharp debut that recognizes the limits of art as a political antagonist. To immediately underscore this point, she opens with an inventory of remembrances from a brief stint in jail. “I heard at least 5 pigs lie at least 5 times,” Trevino writes. Her tone is conversational throughout, whether in lyric poems or hybrid-prose pieces. The book’s middle and final sections comprise extended sonnet sequences. In “Popular Culture & Cruel Work,” Trevino details profiteering from racialized death spectacles and other capitalist perversities. She also muses on personal issues (“The self-absorption & myopia/ I’m capable of. I’ll come back to that”) and ruminates on Tejano singer Selena: “If a woman illegally crossing/ The us-Mexico border can sing/ The Border Patrol agent’s favorite/ Selena song, will he still detain her?” Lastly, “Brazilian Is Not a Race” sees Trevino illustrating the “relational” nature of race, notably in her native Texas, “where I learned/ I’m not white & what that means & how what/ That means changes & doesn’t & to who.” Trevino’s work goes beyond mere sloganeering; for her, poetry is inseparable from the world in which it’s made: “I can see why/ People have compared it to dance, but have you ever/ Danced in the streets? It’s better not to do it by yourself.” (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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