Mersini's Reviews > Anagnorisis: Poems

Anagnorisis by Kyle Dargan
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really liked it
bookshelves: netgalley, poetry

Kyle Dargan is an award winning poet, so it comes as no surprise that his latest collection has something to say about America and the world as we know it. Or rather, as we are coming to know it. “Anagnorisis” is happy to point out flaws in the way we navigate the world, as behaviours and attitudes change. It is a book about racially motivated micro-aggressions, like crossing the street to avoid a couple of young African-American men, as well as what it is to be a person of colour in an America that swings violently between left and right extremes.

Dargan is unrelenting in his reminders that America is a country for white people by white people, and that it was built on the backs of black and indigenous peoples. He is unflinching in highlighting the dichotomy, the unstable power structures that lean in favour of the white, with phrases like:

“Vote a “black” man into a white house. It’s still the White House – symbol of everything we’ve been escaping – not a beacon, never rescue” (avenger., loc 58 Kindle edition)

Referencing Barack Obama’s presidency and the thought that it would result in a cultural shift towards more racial equality, while pointing out that this is inherently impossible in a country where coloured bodies are seen as other, even when they occupy the highest rank in the nation. And so we have a recognition of reality, a slow dawning that things are not quite as they seem to be.

With poems looking at gentrification, the displacement of people who cannot afford to move anywhere else, as well as inevitably talking about police brutality against black Americans, it is a hard look at the reality of living while black in a place where the legacy of the white people is the oppression of the black. It is increasingly relevant to have artists coming out with these stories, immortalising experiences, dissecting events; not allowing silence to fall when there should be discussion, especially when it comes to the mistreatment of an entire subset of people.

He also juxtaposes western ideas of race and culture against those of the Chinese, with Dargan depicting his time in Beijing, Washington DC’s sister city. There is finds himself struggling to fit in though in a way far different from his home nation. Where in the United States there is distrust and suspicion, in Beijing there is curiosity and laughter at an inability to pronounce words correctly. It is almost a relief to get to this part of the book after the horrors written about earlier.

Throughout “Anagnorisis” we get a deeply thought though sometimes harsh insight into the state of the United States today. Easy to read, with its rhythm and elegant style, it nevertheless is not easy to digest, and will leave you thinking about it for some time afterwards.

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Reading Progress

September 3, 2018 – Started Reading
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: netgalley
September 3, 2018 – Shelved
September 12, 2018 – Finished Reading

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