A few years back, I reviewed the poetry collection Losing Miami by Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué for Terrain.org. The collection was later a finalist of the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry, which didn’t surprise me at all, because the work was outstanding. It was so outstanding, in fact, that when I learned about Gabriel’s new collection with Nightboat Books, Madness, I was excited to read it and curious where the poet would go after Losing Miami.
Where Gabriel went was a faux-collected works format, a book that created a fictional poet (Luis Montes-Torres) and attributed the real poet’s work to the fictional one. Each section represents a fictional collection of Montes-Torres’s and a preface by the fictional editors provides a biography. It’s a poetry collection in a fictional frame. Totally brilliant.
The poems themselves present the same accessible insight as those in Losing Miami, often focused on themes of ecological change and queer identity explored in the previous work, but in new, fresh ways.
I ended up reviewing Madness for Rain Taxi Review of books. The review is in the print edition, which you can get here. It’s only 5 dollars and there’s lots of other great content and leads to new reads. You should pick up a copy of Madness and then read my review and let me know what you think!
John Paetsch’s experimental poetry collection, Ctasy, of shapes off shore, (Hiding Press, 2020) reminded me a lot of the Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Blvd in Los Angeles. By blending antiquated scientific language and concepts with optical and personal imagery, the poet, like the quirky museum, challenges the ways we make meaning. The book is beautifully made and formatted. There’s even a confusing map to help you get started on your journey off shore. You can read my review here at Full Stop.
Of all the books I read and reviewed this year, Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué collection of poems, Losing Miami, was my favorite. Like many people, I primarily encounter climate change in numbers – numbers of degrees average temps have increase, number of species lost, number of fires, number of hurricanes, and so on. In Losing Miami, Ojeda-Sagué reminds us of the cultural losses we will soon face. He reminds us that geography is an element of culture and when we lose places, we lose ways of being. Things that can’t be expressed in numbers; things best expressed through poetry.
My review for Joe Pan’s poetry collection, Operating Systems (Spork Press, 2019) is up at Heavy Feather Review. I mostly focus on Pan’s long poem that ends the collection, “Ode to the MQ-9 Reaper,” which is awesome.