Monday, May 1, 2017
IMAGINE RENAISSANCE by NAOMI BUCK PALAGI
M. EARL SMITH Reviews
Imagine Renaissance by Naomi Buck Palagi
(Moria Books’ Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)
As riotous and dramatic as the revolution against both Donald Trump and his particular brand of vile invective portends to be, one must remember that, even in the throes of revolution, everyday life must go on. Initially, that is what poet Naomi Buck Palagi sets out to do: live her life as she did before, at the dawn of Trump’s America. After all, it’s the little things, such as “I love the smell of bacon on a woman”, which the author repeats in the first poem, radio ii, that make life worth living, am I right?
Even in this desperate cling to normalcy, however, we see the first shifts of personality, moving from hardened…. wait a minute, this poem was written in 2010? Before the nightmare of 2016? So, when the poet writes about a Prius becoming a working car, a town with boarded-up windows, and all the other views of dystopia, she’s referring to Obama’s America, and Trump’s?
Hm. Looks like the seeds of revolution were planted long before Trump took office. Granted, his ascension to leader of the “free” world was like a shot of Miracle Gro to the vile and the insane, but none the less, it’s odd to see that Trump is just a symptom of the disease of capitalism, and not the disease itself.
Thankfully, neither the disease or the festering cancer that is the symptom that keep the poet from creating. Taking the opening line of this chap to heart (“We can’t let him dominate our imagination.”, words uttered by South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg), the poet takes us on a six-part exodus from her kitchen table to her basement, and back, entitled radio. Part Jumanji and part self-reflection, the intensity of what could happen when one crosses the threshold of the safety of one’s next to the dark dredges of the lower parts of one soul is profound. The nightmare of Trump’s American returns when the poet states “Pause. Let’s take a breath. I wasn’t sad this morning, and/the news is not all bad. But/polite doors have been closed, a darker door is opened.” Instead of the flood of immigrants that trump tried to scare us with, those rushing through the door are the haters and the hated, Aryans and Neo-Nazis and Kluckers and all stripes of hateful, alt-right savages, willing to tear down our society because a rich white son of an immigrant told us that the immigrants are the ones to be feared.
Well, perhaps one son of an immigrant is to be feared. But, just as Palagi’s volume ends with a prayer, perhaps we should end this nonsense with a thought, provided to us on the last line:
“There is much mystery here. Let me be alive and wonder.”
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.
Posted by EILEEN at 8:00 PM