Friday, July 22, 2011

Out from Otoliths—Philadephia's Notebooks by Carlos Soto-Román

Philadelphia's Notebooks
Carlos Soto-Román
36 pages, full color
Otoliths, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9807651-9-9
$14.95 + p&h

Carlos Soto-Román writes from the center of Empire with a sense of play (game pieces included) and clinical examination. Philadelphia's Notebooks is the work of an artist/world citizen who critiques the daily interrogations that come with being a new immigrant. The fun fact that Ellis Island was greatly expanded with landfill in the late 19th -early 20th century provides a basis for Soto-Román's signage marking poetry's place in a disposable culture. There are workbook exercises that encourage creative ways to answer the calls for loyalty oaths with a demand for radical possibility the host country includes in its PR material. This work also includes what the USA brand doesn't advertise—isolation and moments of utter despair. It is a truly American poem in that it's internationally inflected, from George Perec to German cinema to self-immolators from all over the world. Philadelphia's Notebooks could not be a more artful and timely reminder that “Every heart is a revolutionary cell.”—Frank Sherlock


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