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posted Sep 28, 2016, 11:55 AM by kristin naca   [ updated Oct 11, 2016, 4:12 PM ]

Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Vigorous, self-assured, self-consciously youthful and proudly bilingual, Naca's debut should get many times the attention afforded most poets' first books. Poems short and long, made of family anecdotes and (like Neruda's) of impressionistic lists, poems of remembered place ("The Adoration at El Montan," set in San Antonio, Tex.) and poems of sexual joy between women give uncommon variety to the collection, even as Naca's fast pace, mixed English and Spanish (with bits of Tagalog), and first-person emphasis give it obvious unity. "Spanish means there's another person/ inside you," she remembers her father saying. Poems composed originally in English mix with poems composed in Spanish and printed with her English translations. The next-to-last poem finds Naca in Mexico City, "City so high that passion lacks heat... City where I spoke a word of Spanish, and like a spigot, my dreams squeezed shut." She also takes up, repeatedly, her Filipino-American background, the Pittsburgh of her youth, and the wide-open spaces she saw as an optimistic young writer in Nebraska. Chosen for the National Poetry Series' new mtvU award by Yusef Komunyakaa, the volume might be noticed by young people who may not otherwise purchase poetry but may discover Naca on cable TV. 

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Review by Library Journal Review

Winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series mtvU Prize, which is presented to a college student, Naca writes in three languages (American English, Tagalog, and Spanish), using these modalities to explicate the narrator's becoming within three disparate cultures. In "Uses for Spanish in Pittsburgh," the narrator's father says, "Spanish means there's another person inside you." It is this woman -daughter, sister, child, adult and lover-whom Naca tries to reconcile through verse. Many of the poems pay homage to litany, to delicately crafted and strongly imagistic lists. In one long series, Naca muses on the word house: "House is a five-letter word. It is pronounced /aus/, aus/, or, /auz/." Then she wonders: "What have you done with my 'h'?" In another about a woman removing a pair of gloves, the gloves appear "natural and improbable/ as found sculpture." Often wondering, sometimes wise, Naca is no stranger to the wit inherent in her discoveries. Verdict Highly recommended for anyone interested in contemporary poetry or multicultural studies and especially those interested in exploring the ways that language creates us.

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