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VANISHING POINT. by Kimberly Reyes


by Kimberly Reyes

Pub Date: April 5th, 2023
ISBN: 9781632431196
Publisher: Omnidawn

Reyes presents a collection of poems exploring race.

The political is personal in this poetry collection that focuses on issues of race and the poet’s own identity as a Black Nuyorican woman. Reyes begins by contrasting a letter from Frederick Douglass, in which he praises the Irish’s treatment of him, with her own experience of racism as she traveled from England to Ireland. In “On the ghettoization of childless women,” she observes that “Life is shorter & narrower than it should be for / those of us not meant for your social security.” In “séance at the Beauty Parlor,”she compares Black women who use relaxer to elephants evolving to lose their tusks. Reyes incorporates research into her poems, sharing that at least 40% of White households in New York included a slave in 1711, as well as a New York Timesstatistic citing the alarming death rate of BIPOC women due to pregnancy-related causes. The author includes several visual elements, including victim sketches by the prolific serial killer, Samuel Little, as well as a copy of the 14th United States census circa 1920. Throughout the book, Reyes rails against marginalization and censorship by “well-meaning white folks.” But weariness seems to set in by the end: “Do you ever stop / & wonder what you too lost / Or nah, it’s cool here” (“ghost thought”). The author plays with form—even the color of the text—to suggest truth fading away. The writing is as clever as it is complex: In “The crow is barking up a storm,”the author writes, “Five black males talk, / they call it a murder.” Her descriptions strike a delicate balance between beauty and brutality, such as the “Crimson-black grapes” that “hang taut before / the harvesting / flame” that are part of the “cruel horticulture” of winemaking (“Paradise as tinder”).Reyes deftly combines historical fact with modern cultural touchstones such as director Tim Burton and the 23&Me DNA testing service. She also includes QR codes that link to YouTube readings of her work. The chaotic narrative could make some readers feel overwhelmed and unmoored—this may be the poet’s intention.

An unflinching collection of poems from a bold literary voice.