cover image Dark and Perfect Angels

Dark and Perfect Angels

Benjamin Alire Saenz, Benjamin Alire Senz, Benjamin Alire SC!Enz. Cinco Puntos Press, $11.95 (130pp) ISBN 978-0-938317-23-4

Saenz's second book of poetry (Calendar of Dust won an American Book Award in 1992) moves through the vast and sometimes boggy territory of his Southwestern heritage. Constructed as a memorial for family and friends and as a view of the often weird intermingling of Anglo, Hispanic and Indian cultures, the collection inhabits a liminal space between cultures and times. There are the sharply drawn elements of memory: kitchens, cane fields, laundry, the ubiquitous bottle and articles of Catholic ritual with which the author, a former priest, is so familiar. These elements go a long way toward telling an engaging story, but there is confusion and inexactitude where the formal requirements of poetry are concerned. The book abounds in free-verse forms, none of which seem specifically suited to the author's unsparing, generally powerful voice. (Aug.)