Friday, May 5, 2017



Check & Balance by Luisa A. Igloria
(Moria Books’ Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)

               There’s an old theory in stand-up comedy that idiot presidents like George W. Bush make for the best material. The same held true for Bill Clinton and his lurid dalliances, although, to be fair, the presidency of Barack Obama must have only provided material for the bigots and idiots of the world. Trump, it seems, has completely changed the game, not only for comedians, but for poets as well. For as much as the president would like for us to forget how he mirrors the dictators of the past, the poets are damned sure not going to let him forget it.

            Luisa A. Igloria, in Check & Balance, sets out to do just that, although to call this volume just a railing against Trump would be selling it short. Oh, make no doubt, the poet sets out to remind the oligarch that he is far too similar to dictators past (a point she makes in “What I learned from the Thrilla in Manila” when she quips “The strong/and powerful/the hideous and hateful alongside the beautiful – all/reap in time the reassurance of the uncertain future”), she also takes a moment to show off poetic chops that, in the same way a master painter carefully applies paint to a canvas, paints a vivid display, one that leaves us weeping with both joy, at having seen it, and envy, knowing that we can never replicate it. The best example of this is in “Rondo: Dying World”, where she finishes thus: “…Now/it is exquisite to be able to remember even the smallest/kinds of texture: slubbed crinkle of a dress, specific/weight of a spoon; pooled honey in a wooden floorboard/splinter breaking through skin’s calloused barrier.”

            As delightful as these insightful, introspective versus are, we never lose sight of the poet’s missive. For no sooner than the president may feel as though he can relax, she crucifies him with words once again. In “Restriction”, where we learn that the US Embassy told a group of female Tibetan soccer players that they “have no good reason to visit the US”, Igloria suggests that the best course of action would be “…to get people together to kick something/really hard, send it sailing into a clearly marked/target rimmed in orange at the end of a field/and score and score and score and score.” If that doesn’t portend one to think that the revolution may start with the kick of a soccer ball, then there is no set amount of allusion that will ever wake them to a coming revolution. 


From works for children to the macabre, from academic research to sports journalism, and from opinion essays to the erotic, M. Earl Smith is a writer that seeks to stretch the boundaries of genre and style. A native of Southeast Tennessee, M. Earl moved to Ohio at nineteen and, with success, reinvented himself as a writer after parting ways with his wife of eleven years. After graduating from Chatfield College (with highest honors) in 2015, M. Earl became the first student from Chatfield to matriculate at an Ivy League institution when he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. The proud father of two wonderful children (Nicholas and Leah), M. Earl studies creative writing and history at UPenn. When he’s not studying, M. Earl splits time between Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chattanooga, with road trips to New York City, Wichita, Kansas, and Northampton, Massachusetts in between.

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