Antidote for Night

Marsha De La O. BOA Editions (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-938160-81-3
De La O (Black Hope) counters Southern California's sunny image and reveals it to be filled with darkness, thirst, and hunger in this evocative collection, winner of the 2015 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award. "Hunger is the first and/ last word. When all words in California/ slide into the sea, hunger will be the last to fall," she writes, her lines unhinging the region's secrets through memories of everyday people—her working-class father, her late mother, and the women and men who journey to California only to brutally fail. De La O demonstrates deft control through a sense of restraint—in terms of both narrative and melodic rhythm—that is noticeable in her enjambment, and she creates tension via selective disclosures of information: "Did I mention I'm afraid of the dark?" Drawing from the symbolic imagery of the corvid, De La O parallels the haunting quality of the insatiable bird through her portrayal of women: "That night I felt a bird enter and sink down/ through me, the bird that is thirst// the bird that could drink an ocean and not be quenched." Like the women and birds she depicts, De La O's California offers transcendent mystery as an end in itself, and in doing so, transforms a regional poetry into something more universal. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/2016
Release date: 09/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 104 pages - 978-1-938160-82-0
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