Some Poems by People I Like

Alland has collected works by Chrystos, Naila Keleta Mae, Jorge Lara Rivera, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha and Andra Simons in this anthology. These are solid poems that hit you hard with their unabashed anger and joy. It’s especially a treat to see some of Chrystos’ work collected as most, if not all, of her books are out of print and often tricky to find. In “Trailer Park at Dawn,” Chrystos writes “Here in the trailer park we don’t have BBQ gatherings / or bowling teams or borrowed sugar / Just a vast sky raining on us / exactly the way she touch-es the rich / and their endless gravel drives.” These poets address lifetimes of struggle against violence through poverty, racism, abuse–giving strong narratives of walking through fire and lessons learned. There’s fierce beauty here. Highlights include new work by Piepzna-Samarasinha, telling stories of navi-gating love in the midst of homelands at war, where prayers mesh with the horror of interna-tional news reports and minutia of daily events in meditations on survival and strength. Whether it’s chain-smoking indignantly while ranting about an ex-lover’s new partner’s lack of an ass, or delicately describing moving through pain together while watching the headlines on Al Jazeera, her poems are vivid, physical, full of sweat and passion. In the final stanza of “After 31 years of loving in the war years,” she writes “I think I should be an expert at this / should know how to kiss away every trauma / how 31 years into loving in the war years / I still don’t know how to do this / but we cross this water / together / still alive.” If you’re feeling politically apathetic, this collection’s a swift elbow to the gut, and if you’re struggling in the thick of things, it will be a welcome balm. Well done, and highly recommended. (Sarah Pinder)

poetry chapbook, editor Sandra Alland, issue , $7, Sandra Alland,61 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON, M5T 2K2, [email protected]