Kyle Dargan’s new collection of poetry reflects his many passions as a poet, his deep engagament with what it means to work in the African American literary tradition, and his lively voice, infused with hip-hop sensibility and idiom. Skillfully blending vernacular and elegant diction, his clipped and reflective phrasings create animated poems that take on a myriad of concerns. Moving through such subjects as a midnight wait in the Washington, D.C., bus station, men on exhibit at the 1904 World’s Fair, the sights and sounds of an Indiana karaoke bar, and an imagined escaped slave turned to stone, Dargan’s work continually shifts lenses to examine an America increasingly stifled by dogmas and inept social categories. At the core of the book is compassion for the individuals who populate it, and from that compassion grows a hunger for the old identities, in which we encase ourselves, to come undone.
From “Palinode, Once Removed”: The day we pursue metaphor, I will / teach them about the brain–how there is a center / to catch discrepancy between the expected / and the perceived. Stimulate the mechanism. / you are working in metaphor. / Though surprising / I am not a metaphor. This is: I am a period, / small and dark. If you read me correctly, / you are to stop. Pause. Breathe.