cover image Hotel Oblivion

Hotel Oblivion

Cynthia Cruz. Four Way, $16.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-954245-11-2

In these brilliant and ethereal poems, Cruz (Guidebook for the Dead) inhabits an almost-invisible subject: someone who, because of the trappings of class and society is “touched and tendered, but never nourished, never fed.” Cruz asks: “how can you love me/ if you don’t know me.” With haunting imagery that feels like “the top layer of a dream,” these poems navigate worlds of artistry and desire, questioning the purpose of living a life of the mind, particularly when the body “is its own/ strange, and mystical language” and language is “always broken, and imperfect.” Cruz interrogates the ways class intersects with art, and what happens when an artist is “afraid most of the time of [their] own intensity.” She also addresses the way in which poetry might offer a “new language,” but only if society is willing to hear it. “Shame,” Cruz seems to say, is what an artist will “carry... everywhere.” This collection offers a deeply necessary exploration of the role of the artist in society, and society’s responsibility toward the artist. While these curious and inquisitive poems reach for the universal, Cruz’s poetry is wholly her own. (Feb.)