Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize,Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz's second collection demands that every body carried in its pages--bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers--be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness.
Violence against Indigenous people is not just historical but ongoing, systemic and institutional, Diaz reminds us ... This knowledge, however fraught, emboldens Diaz to celebrate her survival as a queer Aha Makhav woman living in the 21st century ... the book rejects stereotypes that cast Indigenous people as monocultural ... Postcolonial Love Poem is charged by the often violent intersection of colonizing languages (in this case, first Spanish and then English) with an Indigenous one (Mojave). That’s not to say the poems long for a pre-colonial culture ... There is an extreme lushness to the language Diaz uses, especially about love, sex and desire ... This book asks us to read the world carefully, knowing that not everything will be translated for us, knowing that it is made up of pluralities ... Diaz’s collection is no doubt one of the most important poetry releases in years, one to applaud for its considerable demonstration of skill, its resistance to dominant perspectives and its light wrought of desire.
It’s poetry as myth-making in order to flesh out experiences that the predominately white gatekeepers of the mainstream publishing world have seldom given the attention and audience they have always deserved. Yes, this collection is postcolonial. And yes, it is one long love poem—the bliss and thirst brought by the body of the beloved run through these poems like the copper arroyos flash-flooding through the book’s intimate and vast desert landscape .... For this reader, it was a revelation—bringing to the center of awareness a tumultuous, gorgeous rapture, in which two women contain and then explode the earth and the universe itself ... utterly corporeal and unforgettable ... Lest one think this book is all fire, light, and fury, there is a sly humor that edges in ... It’s a pleasure (and perhaps a momentary relief) to find oneself chuckling out loud at these witty and yet wickedly apt commentaries. This is stunning work—painful, embodied, and glorious.
Conveying clear ideas through crisp, dazzling images, Diaz’s poems typically unfold in long lines grouped into short stanzas. She instructs and inquires; she mourns and rhapsodises ... Despite the difficulty of breaking free of this fable, the balance of love poems in this book are truly intimate, electric transmissions from one to another. Queer love defies another myth: the heterosexual, nuclear family. Diaz suggests that intimacy can create a sacred, even holy space, 'like church', an 'escape' over which the lovers have dominion. She has written another breathtaking, groundbreaking book, an intellectually rigorous exploration of the postcolonial toll on land, love and people, as well as a call to fight back. In her soaring poems, she deepens and revises the word 'postcolonial', demonstrating not only that love persists in the aftermath of colonialism, but that it provides a means of transcendence, too.