I ASK THE IMPOSSIBLE by Ana Castillo

I ASK THE IMPOSSIBLE

Poems

KIRKUS REVIEW

“I ask the impossible: love me forever,” Castillo’s second collection begins. This curious mix of ambition and limitation—if one is going to ask for the impossible, “love me forever” seems almost petulant—stalks the book, making its poems seem both weighty and insubstantial, at some times strident and at others safe. Chicagoan Castillo (Peel My Love Like an Onion, 1999, etc.) presents poems written over a 12-year period. Her utterly unsentimental subjects range from autobiography (including a marvelous poem, “Chi-Town Born and Bred, Twentieth-Century Girl Propelled with Flare Into the Third Millennium,” whose title is an accurate description of its content) to political activism (as in “Like the people of Guatemala, I want to be free of these memories . . . —Sister Dianna Ortíz,” which describes in excruciating detail the tragedy of an American nun captured and tortured by the Guatemalan secret police), to poems of heterosexual and lesbian love (the best of which is perhaps “La Wild Woman,” a fable about a woman who steals a bride away from her own wedding). A few of the poems are in Spanish, with translations by the poet Rosario Ferré. But although bilingualism is a fact of the book, it never becomes a point of intense exploration in the way it does for a writer like Gloria Andalzúa. The poems tend to stop short of real radicalism either in form, language, or statement, instead exerting a kind of steady pressure on the wrongs of urban life and on the violence directed against the disenfranchised. Ultimately, the love poems tell the most nuanced stories of the book, showing strong women who “make the impossible / a simple act.”

Energetic, down-to-earth.

Pub Date: March 27th, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-72073-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2000




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