PositiveHarvard Review... a complex examination of the body as the principal site for pleasure, pain, violence, and everything that goes on in the intellect ... Corral imagines himself into his subjects’ bodies and minds; his poems restore identities to people who have been brutalized into anonymity and personalize the experiences of migrants to readers who may otherwise think of them as statistics. Corral doesn’t limit his concern to the tortured body, though pain is central to the way he occupies his own body, and to his conception of desire ... For Corral’s speaker, these are the two sides of desire. You may lose yourself in your present, so absorbed that you believe the lover can be consumed; you may also be so aware of yourself as seen by the other, or of your body, that the encounter feels unbearable.
Carmen Gimenéz Smith
RavePloughsharesGiménez Smith nestles the book’s sprawling, associative, surreal title poem amongst the clear, often incisive ones of the other two sections of the book. The book’s first poem, Origins,... lays the groundwork for the complication that Be Recorder addresses ... sections of more narrative, crystalized lyrics help us approach the title poem, \'Be Recorder,\' which beats like a hidden heart in the center of the collection. The poem is remarkable, epic, and important. It inundates us with the often-uncomfortable realities of living in a time and place that bears down on the self and enforces conformity and adherence to white supremacist, sexist, and heterosexist values; xenophobia; and desperate capitalist consumption ... the chaos, dissolution, and bleakness of this vision of the world underpins the quieter, more narrative poems in the collection and is matched by the urgency of the speaker’s \'revisionist chronicle\'—her fantasy of a future...and her petition for us to...\'to turn hate/into light.\' The vision presented in Be Recorder, then, isn’t completely bleak. Hope is seated in that active, astute, and vigilant speaker, who is capable of recording the monolith, deconstructing it, and reassembling it as a world that looks a little more like one we can bear.
PositivePloughsharesThese poems of grief and doubt are the strongest in the collection. There’s much to be admired in the poems that follow them—they are the affirmation of life and love that the doubt that begins the book asks for—but they don’t consistently have the power of the poems that begin the book. The kernel of grief that sets the speaker on his course, and which seems to fascinate him across time, is also what fascinates us. The crystalized, perfectly-clear articulations of grief that begin the collection ring through it, though, making it impossible to read even the simplest lyric in The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write as light.
PositivePloughshares... contains all the sharpness of something acidic—the pain and the brilliance, the pleasure, the stinging accuracy ... By linking the violence her speaker experiences to larger forces working on us politically and socially, Scenters-Zapico highlights the ways that gender can be a site at which our cultural and social systems inscribe themselves upon us—and how gender itself is a cultural expression created not just by larger culture, but by the ways we define ourselves against each other, as men do against women, as the United States does against Mexico.
PositivePloughsharesRestores pleasure as a site of serious thought and, even more, as a mode in inquiry in itself, while Gay’s wholesome (but never saccharine) voice convinces us that a mode of inquiry, a way of thinking, too, can be a pleasure itself ... Pleasure, then, for some, becomes as an act of resistance against a racist status quo, against a world that locates sorrow within blackness, which allows society to ignore the sorrow of black people completely. This idea, which recurs throughout these essays, elevates the idea of delight and the act of cataloging it, to something important, serious, and necessary.