cover image Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Daniel Borzutzky. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6522-0

Borzutzky's streamlined and unequivocally defiant follow-up to 2016's National Book Award%E2%80%93winning The Performance of Becoming Human unfolds across the streets of Chicago and along the shores of Lake Michigan, where he situates a fictionalized version of the Chicago PD's once-secret interrogation sites. Composed in long, proselike lines, this work explicitly places itself in the tradition of protest poetry, referencing such forebears as C%C3%A9sar Vallejo, Pablo Neruda, and Aim%C3%A9 C%C3%A9saire. Police brutality is a major theme, both as occasion for protest ("There are 7 of us in front of the mayor's house asking questions about the boy they shot 22 times") and enacted, as when "the police officers throw us to the ground hold their sticks to our necks put their knees to our backs pull our hair handcuff us take us to a holding cell where we are separated one from another and we cannot call our lawyers our friends our families and we scream from our cells until they tape our mouths shut." Authorities repeatedly attempt to normalize their brutality, claiming that this is "only war," that it is "only the beginning of war." Borzutzky engages with a history specific to Chicago, but the beach becomes a symbolic border zone where people suffer at the hands of capitalist power and, crucially, search for the means to fight back. (Mar.)