cover image Homeland of My Body: New and Selected Poems

Homeland of My Body: New and Selected Poems

Richard Blanco. Beacon, $25.95 (202p) ISBN 978-0-8070-1297-0

This beautiful retrospective brings together selections from four of Blanco’s previous books—including his most recent, How to Love a Country—as well as vital new poems. Blanco contemplates identity, belonging, memory, and place as he writes about home, family, and love with a reverent and empathetic eye. In “Splintering,” he unflinchingly enacts the divide between body and soul, describing the moment when a child realizes what being is, as his mother tends to his wound: “I knew nothing of dying. Then she kissed/ the last bead of blood on my finger and said:/ I love you. Meaning what she’d love forever was more than my body, which suddenly split/ from me.” The new offerings powerfully bookend the collection, contextualizing Blanco’s expansive and impressive work. In “Become Me,” a poem written to his husband, the weight of love and death finds transcendence in a place that never dies: “Become my lungs,/ their last gap, nerves firing through/ every scene of our loving. Become the soil/ of my soul. There’s nothing more blessed/ than taking you with me into the ground.” Blanco’s expert command of craft and lyricism is evident in these pages as he offers readers a vision of the quintessential aspects that define humanity, even in the face of despair. (Oct.)