Slow Lightning

Eduardo C. Corral. Yale Univ, $18 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-300-17893-7
This debut does many things: there are melancholy poems about love between men in the age of HIV, sonnets in strict and forceful rhyme, poems addressed to paintings and art installations, poems that mix English and Spanish, elegies and protests, and difficult family memories. Corral rarely repeats a form: beyond sonnets, there are clipped, blocklike texts, page-long chants, lines squeezed down to nothing (“The soul,/ like semen,/ escapes/ the body/ swiftly”) and hard-edged, digressive free verse: “The sand calls out for more footprints./ A crack in a boulder/ can never be an entrance/ to a cathedral/ but a mouse can be torn open/ like an orange.” There is outrage against the border-related policies that keep on killing Mexicans and other immigrants, and there is tenderness expressed toward erotic partners and toward artistic allies, from Frida Kahlo to the avant-garde disco cellist Arthur Russell. Finally the binational struggles of migrants can seem to stand for other struggles in life, erotic, familial and literary: “my love took me through the desert. My breath/ crumbling like bread.” Corral’s first book is also the first pick for the venerable Yale Series of Younger Poets from new judge Carl Phillips. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 96 pages - 978-0-300-17892-0
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