cover image The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer

The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer

Eric Tran. Autumn House, $16.95 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-938769-51-1

Tran addresses the loss of a friend through meditations on art, pop culture, and identity in his vibrant debut. “I want it in public/ loud and bold so walls/ remember our scent,” he states in a poem that juxtaposes the smells and flavors of his childhood foods with physical yearning and desire. Though the poems express grief, the collection is radiant with hope and healing: “Every crack is a door/ if you lean in hard. Every second/ a second chance.” Divided into three parts, the book spans the gamut of subjects and styles, from an abstract poem inspired by Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger to a reinterpretation of the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s installation piece Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), in which words scatter across page to invoke the candy represented in the installation, and the subtext of violence underneath. In “Amadeus Cho’s The Totally Awesome Hulk,” he addresses “Ammy”: “I hope you’re terrifying, aggressive,/ haughty as I devour in print/ .../ Toothy, artful, heroic./ Toxic, angry, hellish.” Readers will find that these complex and contradicting qualities are enacted in the collection itself. (Feb.)