Chris Abani Dog Woman. Red Hen (CDC, dist.) $14.95 (112p) ISBN 1-888996-82-XThese poems reveal a prodigious imagination, which is enlivened by sardonic wit and an inexhaustible capacity for irony and empathy. Daring to span a historical continuum that takes us as far back as the rituals of Christ suffering, through the tragic history of the Mayans of Mexico, to the starkly modern concerns of contemporary life, these poems find beauty and grace in the most painful things. The achievement here lies in the poet’s ability to bring an engaging intelligence to bear on the complexities of race, gender and memory. Abani’s line has a sharp precision that turns a scream into a line of memorable lyric music without losing the emotion and force. That he does this again and again in poems of such vulnerability speaks highly of Abani’s art.
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