Reviews in 200 Words

My American Kundiman by Patrick Rosal

In Poetry on June 17, 2011 at 3:26 am

You’ve got to believe in love, and lust, to read these poems. Rosal tells us that the Kundiman is a traditional Filipino song of unrequited love. That’s a whole lot of yearning–a whole lot of attempt. And love wins, sometimes. But these poems remind us–intensely–what it’s like to be with a girl or a boy for the first time. They remind us what it’s like to fall so deeply into that hole, how wonderful the fall can be, and what it’s like to land. That pain. Damn, that pain. And this isn’t entirely about men and women, about bodies and touching. Or, it’s all about these things, but also about cars and countries and culture. It’s about the things we can’t help, the abuse we endure, the sorrow that comes with happiness. We have certain emotions on different levels. What’s the difference, really, between wanting so badly to defend your own honor and wanting so badly to please a lover? We think we are not in love / And no one can hear us // We are moaning for each other’s air. Rosal makes longing necessary and normal: where would any of us be without it?  

-Micah Ling


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