And then We Became

Devorah Major. City Lights, , $14.95 ISBN 978-0-87286-726-0
In her fifth collection, poet and novelist Major (The Other Side of the Postcard), a former San Francisco poet laureate, favors rich language and punchy lines as she ponders her place in the universe, and her relation to others similarly making their way. She captures emotions with economical precision, a trait that is evident in such poems as “Human,” a four-stanza ode to the grandiosity of the cosmos in which she notes, “i am less than a microscopic speck/ on the edge of the universe’s lens.” In the collection’s second section, “Other Selves,” Major shows how people’s interactions with the outside world reflect their inner character. Her poem “Brown Lady in White” explores racial passing, through a character in what one could call white-face: “she cannot become the/ whiteness she wraps around herself.” In the subsequent poem, “Any Name Will Do,” Major speaks to the ways in which race complicates bonds of intimacy, her speaker expounding on how racism serves to sabotage sincere efforts to connect person to person. In the fourth and final section, the poems return to the mysteries of the universe, its vastness considered as infinite potential, rather than an uncrackable code. Major ponders deep philosophical questions, but it’s in her more personal portraits that her poems really sing. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
Release date: 11/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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