cover image American Faith

American Faith

Maya C. Popa. Sarabande, $15.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-946448-46-0

The poised debut from PW poetry reviews editor Popa is a book about the things and people—such as a boy from summer camp who was beaten to death by his mother—that “No logic, no language will bring... back.” These carefully tuned poems dramatize a classical sensibility shaken awake by the ceaseless shock waves of Trump’s America, where “The season turns over/ with perfect indifference,” and even “The Bees,” as the title of one prose poem claims, “Have Been Cancelled.” How, the poems wonder, can one come to terms with the realities of this dark moment but through understated irony: “The principle of the gun law is that anyone/ should have the right to buy what may kill/ a room full of people—this failure is freedom.// I’m sorry there can’t be more poetry in this.” Child of immigrants, teacher, woman in a vulnerable body, the speakers of Popa’s poems seek to set the record straight, knowing how little anyone listens—to poetry, of course, but to other people in general. “I want a kind of betterness./ Want it desperately. Is that faith?” she asks. There are no good answers to questions like this, which it is the job of poetry to ask. Popa’s questing and questioning lyric poems are kind company amid the uncertainty of the modern world. (Nov.)