cover image Suelo Tide Cement

Suelo Tide Cement

Christina Vega-Westhoff. Nightboat, $16.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-937658-80-9

Begun at an interdisciplinary residency in Panama where the residents were tasked with learning from and creating with soil, the poems in Vega-Westhoff’s debut feel as if they have risen from something earthy and pre-linguistic. Shaped by various typographical eccentricities and a near total renouncement of titles, the poems create a pulse more than a narrative or lyric arc. Vega-Westhoff is an accomplished translator, and this is evident in her obsession with hidden words, words that shape themselves into other words. Readers see “reseeding” receding across the page, or the husk of an “art(if) (act)” lost. She mines human attempts to communicate in these poems—the misunderstandings, failures, and ways language is used to colonize and demoralize. Readers may be struck by the clarity of a line like “as if some presidents safer than others” in the midst of so much linguistic deconstruction. Vega-Westhoff seems chiefly concerned with the ways people try to contain the uncontainable: the Earth, other people, sensations of longing. This book works to let go of such attempts at control in favor of a more communal sensibility. If poetry is, as Ricardo Gullon said, meant to “transfer an intuition,” then Vega-Westhoff has composed an entire collection of impulse that throbs on the page, knowable and familiar in its refusal to be either. (June)